Pray on purpose

My prayer life has lagged lately. Yours, too?

So often when I pray, it seems random. I talk to God about this and that, but have a tendency to become distracted. I lose my train of thought. Or, the prayer conversation becomes one-sided. I do all the talking.

Surely I am not the only one to sometimes struggle with prayer, or even praying at all! Maybe that’s why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They saw Jesus retreat again and again to the hills and into the wilderness to spend time with His Father, and perhaps they wanted to know how they could better connect.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us we are to, “Pray constantly.”

This week I have found that when I am more strategic and focused in my prayers, my heart is open to the constant flow of conversation with God the rest of the day.

God’s Word is the most powerful prayer conversation starter. As His child, I have full and direct access to the Author Himself! And when I think about the people He has given me to care for, minister to and invest in, I want to be talking with My Savior about them! I have not been as disciplined as I should about praying for my family, my church, my co-workers in Christ and those people I have the privilege to serve.

This week I got tired of knowing what I should do, and started doing it.

My Prayer Book

My Prayer Book

Because I need help to focus during prayer, I made a book. It certainly isn’t elaborate. It’s just a folder, with printed verses and prompts. I tabbed the pages to separate Scriptures for my husband, son, daughter, church, ministry leaders I work with, and people I serve in ministry. It cost me about $3 (and if you have the spiritual gift of deal snatching/super saving/price matching :), you could make one for less!). I would be happy to share these prayer prompts and pages I have in my book; just send me a message! I didn’t come up with these on my own. Here are some of the websites that helped me get started:

It is possible and attainable to pray on purpose. I’ve started by using this book to pray for 10-20 minutes each morning. I pray one or two verses over each person in my family, for my church, co-workers and those in my areas of ministry. If the Holy Spirit leads me further, I continue.

This focused prayer has opened the rest of my day to conversation with the Lord. Those people and Scriptures are on my mind. My spirit is more in tune with God’s, and He prompts discussions with me as I go about my daily routine. We have those random and stream-of-consciousness chats, too. God is truly my best friend.

Praying on purpose is leading me toward praying constantly.

I know this method may not work for everyone. However, let me encourage you: make prayer a priority! Pray on purpose. Ask God how you can better be in touch with Him throughout your day. Get into God’s Word. Talk to Him about what you are learning. Pray for those God has given to you. Include Jesus in the details of your everyday life. Don’t just know what you should do; actually do it!

Feeling useless?

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

– 2 Peter 1:5-8

Routines can often grind a person down to going through the motions. Life’s requirements and the laundry list of responsibilities (and sometimes literally the pile of laundry) can weigh down commitment and desire.

God knows we need continual focus and renewed satisfaction that comes only from Him. Instead of looking only to our to-do list and trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations, God wants our hearts to be captivated and motivated to action in these ways:

  • Goodness
  • Knowledge
  • Self-control
  • Endurance
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly affection
  • Love

These aren’t just to be added to the already long list of tasks for the day. Our faith needs them. God wants these qualities to be increasing in our lives, so that we will be useful and fruitful to Him.

That is what I want. I want to be useful to my Savior.

So, if my day doesn’t involve showing goodness, spending time with God and growing in my understanding of His character and plan, receiving strength to be self-controlled and staying committed to what is right, becoming more like Christ, and loving others like Jesus loves me, it doesn’t matter how clean the kitchen is or if the beds are made.

Being useful to God has nothing to do with the ability to cook a gourmet meal or successfully navigating a merger or managing a multiple-line reception phone.

It is when I exercise my faith that God is most pleased.