Persistent Prayer. How do you do it?

Note: Congrats to the winners of the Hearts at Home comment contest. The gals who will receive a copy of my book A Life That Says Welcome on the topic of hospitality are….. Shannon and Karalin! Ladies, email your home address to karen@karenehman.com to claim your freebeeJ

Now, if you have made your way here via the Proverbs 31 devotion I have running on Crosswalk.com, welcome! Let talk some more about that devo and its topic. If you haven’t read the devotion, it is called A Dime in My Pocket and you can read it here. 

Prayer. There is nothing I believe in more.

And nothing I find more difficult to do.

Really. My mind wanders. My grocery list suddenly interrupts my thoughts urging me to locate a sticky note before I forget something of monumental importance. You know, like that I need more eggs. Fear strikes as I mentally visualize my to-do list for the day and wonder how I will ever get it all done. Better cut my prayer time short so I can begin to check off the day’s tasks! Or, sadly, sometimes I admit I have decades-long doubts on such things as, “If God already knows the future, what difference does it really make that I pray?” 

Yep, I believe in prayer. I have seen its power. I have been in awe of its results. But I struggle with being consistant and earnest about practicing it faithfully.

It is fitting that my devotion ran on the 7th anniversary of September 11th. What a day of prayer that was!! I’m sure most of us can recall the events of that day well.

I sent Mitchell, then in first grade and Mackenzie, a fifth grader, off to their homeschool academy with my friend Kathy who is an instructor there. The students and teachers met once a week on Tuesdays and I got to spend time with three-year-old Spencer by myself all day. (BTW…he heads off to the same academy today for his fifth grade year!)Shortly before 9:00 am, the phone rang and a friend from church asked me if I had the television on. I reached for the remote and, after a few minutes, watched in horror as the second plane stuck our World Trade Center.

My mind went instantly to prayer. I prayed for the families. I prayed for the President. And most of all, I prayed for my two kids who were now over a half hour from me on a very scary day.

I debated whether I should hop in the car and go get the kids, but opted not to. I knew they were with wonderful mentors and spiritual role models who would take great care of them. However, the distance between us drove me to my knees. I can’t recall another day when my thoughts turned to prayer as much as they did on that awful fall day. And in the weeks after. However, I am saddened to think of the many days now in my life that often go by with very little prayer coming from my lips. 

So why is it that I tend to connect with God so seriously mainly during times of trouble? Why other times do I treat prayer as another thing on my list of to dos?—Cover all of the requests that have come my way; Remember the items on my church’s weekly prayer sheet; Mention grandparents, nieces and nephews; Oh and don’t forget the missionaries!!! And on and on it goes as I mentally check off the mandatory items I don’t want to miss. It lands me in a spiritual rut. Lately I have longed for my prayer life to be re-energized. I want to be watchful, faithful and deep, not reactionary, hit-and-miss and shallow.

I have discovered a few methods over the years that have helped. Like keeping those sticky notes nearby to actually jot those to-do and to-buy items down and get them onto paper and off of my mind. Or having a tote bag with my Bible, pen, current study book as well as some note cards for verse memory all together in one location. Then I can easily grab it and steal away to a quiet place. If I can find one in a house full of five people!

Today, I’d like to use this site as a forum to share ideas about prayer. Please leave a comment that tells how you have learned to labor in prayer. How do you focus? Any scriptures that have been helpful to memorize? What do you do to carry out the Lord’s command that we be people of prayer?

And, let’s be honest too. Why do you struggle with prayer? Do you struggle? Or does it come naturally? What doubts do you have about this spiritual discipline? What roadblocks do you hit? Any committment to change you want to post in black and white in order to keep yourself accountable?

I know I don’t want to treat prayer like a dime in my pocket any longer. I want to be cell-phone-like addicted to connecting with my Lord. I want it to be as natural as breathing. And I want to give God the glory for the transformation I hope will happen.

How about you?

Sweet intercessory blessings,

Karen

 

 

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19 Comments

  1. I will admit, for years I had much trouble with my prayer life. It seemed like it was just another thing to do and check off my list. Having a daily quiet time has not been hard for me, but the prayer life was painfully dismal.
    But God…don’t you just love His entrance…..was gracious in showing me that prayer is about a relationship with the Living God! Prayer is the ultimate worship! In my prayer time, I can worship at the feet of Jesus, I can cry at the feet of Jesus, and I can ask at the feet of Jesus. Habakkuk 3:17-19 has been very precious to me lately. Things have not been going exactly as I had hoped, but I have purposed to rejoice in Him for His goodness and faithfulness. So, one day in my prayer time I just read those verses back to Him, putting in my version – even if things never go how I want them to, I will rejoice in Him and I will joy in the God of my salvation! Oh, the peace that floods one’s soul when you surrender even your dreams to God.
    If I could give any advice, it would be to view prayer as the ultimate form of worship. Cry aloud to Him in private, praise Him in private, raise your hands to Him in private, surrender to Him in private and it will make all the difference in your daily life that others’ see. Just realize that it is about a relationship with God – not a box to check or a duty to perform. And just as Moses’ face shown from being with God, so will ours when we spend time at His feet, giving Him all that we have to give.
    May God bless you as you press in to Him,
    Karan

  2. Good morning to all you wonderful ladies.
    I just blogged for the first time last week and it so nice to see such wonderful feedback, what’s even more of a blessing is to find sisters who don’t even know each other.
    I am having a lot of struggle with getting out of bed on Sunday mornings, we have been getting to church 15 minutes late for the past month or so, both my husband and I woke up with so much conviction today, I feel like I am letting my Father down, I feel ashamed. Sometimes, we are so tired by the time it is sunday (not that this is an excuse), we like to sleep a little extra.I just ask that you all join us in prayer, God has done so much for us that we shouldn’t be too tired for Him. Thank you all so much.
    God bless each of you.

  3. My moms group often makes little crafts — we made these in the past and they are nice prayer reminders – we made prayer rocks — we put small rocks (like landscaping rocks) in pretty tulle with ribbons and they were to put on your pillow – when you make you bed in the morning you are reminded to pray when you set it on your pillow and at the end of the day when your head “hits the rock” instead of the pillow you are reminded again. We also used those flat clear glass stones/beads and glued the word “pray” written on colorful paper to the bottom to set around the house as a reminder to pray.
    I too find it to sit in prayer time and listen as well as spend time praying without my mind wandering. I think a lot of it is habit and a journal really helps.
    As for praying out loud – as with most things, the more you do it the easier it becomes — I used to hear people give these eloquent prayers out loud and dread the popcorn prayer time — after I thought about it as knowing God loves to hear our prayers no matter how eloquent or elementary and doing it more and more it got easier and easier.

  4. Hey sweet blogging buddies—
    Thanks for all of the input , suggestions and honesty. This is great!!! Keep them coming!
    Karen :-)

  5. I get up early to have quiet time and pray. I found this difficult at first, but anymore if I don’t take that time (say on a Saturday), my day seems hurried and that something is missing. (Of course, my time with God). However, like others have mentioned, after my prayer time, I launch into my day and often forget about God. A friend once told me to use visual reminders to pray. If you see a bus, pray for the kids and teachers. If you see an American flag, pray for our country’s leaders, and so on.

    I also read a fabulous book ahile back by Beth Moore. It is called “Praying God’s Word.” Now, when I have a situation, I go to a passage of scripture and paraphrase that scripture into a prayer rather than reciting my “laundry list” of prayers. I have found and tried to memorize scripture that I can turn into prayers for my children, marriage, family and temptations I struggle with.

  6. really liked your analogy of our prayerlife being like a
    teenager plugged into her cell phone. When I was 28
    (I’m now 63) I wanted to hear Christmas music. I found
    a Christian radio station and a Bible teacher teaching
    on the judgement seats of God. I thought I didn’t know
    the Bible had so much to say about life and death. I
    devoured the Bible over the next 6months, found myself repeating Lord I didn’t know you said something about that-I’ve done that and please forgive me. Irealized my husband was unsave and would simply pray”Save Fred” and go on reading and repenting. One night God save Fred on the day he
    planned his suicide. He’d been planing for over two years. The day he said yes to Jesus brought wonderousjoy into my life andthat was the first prayer
    I acknowledged God for the answer.
    I have the lettering WelcomeJesus on the wall in my
    livingroom. It is a reminder that Christ is present!
    I’m not very methodical about prayer but I have a
    bulletin board in my kitchen with picture and names God has laid on my heart to pray for and art work of
    grandchildren.These visuals turn my thoughts to prayer as i go about my day.

  7. Oh, man, I loved the devotional today, especially the thought about texting/journaling! Of course, I’ve been reminded already this week about journaling. God just used you to prick my heart again. Perhaps He’s also encouraging me to get going again on my “online journal” blog, which I have let slide.

    Thanks for listening to the Spirit and encouraging us all in the process!

    By the way, your writings are very easy to read, very warm and friendly! :) I appreciate that!

    Lisa R.

  8. As I read I said to myself. I can’t believe that other people are going through the same thing as myself. But God in his mercy is so gentle with us that he doesn’t chide, he encourages us. I personally feel that God is speaking to me- many of us, and I thank God for your devotional. I shall share, and keep this thought and pray that my prayer habbits change by the grace of God. I need more quality time with the one who loves me so much that he died for me.

  9. Father, I know that Jill is a wonderful woman of God. She’s diligent and powerful and Satan wants to suppress her so that she can’t speak her effective words out loud. But, Lord, You have given her authority over all the powers of the enemy. I pray You will strenghten this power in Jill so that she can pray out loud, and become an effective prayer witness. I pray all this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    Karen, thank you for sharing your prayer wisdom with us. I love prayers. I love to hear about prayers. It is our weapon against the enemy. We all struggle with faithful and truthful prayers from time to time. I write scriptures out as prayers so when I am struggling with a situation so much so that I can’t find the right words to say, I recite the scriptures or read it and just agree with it. I find this to be effective and worthwhile. It has changed my life and relationship with God dramatically over the last couple of years.

    God bless, Shoua

  10. i really appreciated your devotional, karen. truly, ‘praying without ceasing’ during the day is a struggle for me, too. i have found that most times i can pray in the car failry effeciently. seems like when your eyes are on the road, your thot’s can turn to prayer w/o being distracted (cause you have to watch the road anyway). anyway, hope it helps and thanks again for the devo.

    — andrea

  11. Hello All–
    Like everyone who has commented, I, too have problems with being consistent when it comes to prayer. However, I’ve come a long way. I think many people (myself at one time) think of prayer as having to be this formal thing where we should be on our knees and using fancy language and in an certain place. Well, I’ve learned through HIs word and other wonderful people that we can be in CONSTANT prayer with Him throughout the day….it doesn’t just have to be the early morning quiet time….although that’s imporant for me too. We can pray as we do laundry, drive to go shopping, while waiting in the long grocery checkout line….wherever and whenever! Just speak to Him as you would a friend. :)

    Jill—as far as your comment goes….I think it’s pretty common for people to feel “uncomfortable” praying out loud. I know I did and still kind of do. What I’m learning is to pray about it and God will see your heart and your honest feelings of wanting to….but being afraid. Guess what? It’s ok….do it AFRAID! It’s going to be hard and quite frankly, will probably feel kind of “weird” but don’t stop! Maybe practice praying out loud by yourself and then when you’re with your boyfriend you will have praciticed. Maybe even close your eyes at first. God will be with you and will help to strengthen you. You can do it! :)

    –Amy V.

  12. God Morning…you certainly hit upon something that can be difficult for me as well (mind wandering during prayer it happened just earlier this am) when it happens I ask God to get me back on track…but it sure can be a struggle. (Satan get back—I’m sure he loves to interrupt us spending time with God). I pray that we can overcome this issue and stay close to God.
    Blessings–
    Gaba

  13. Karen,

    Great devotion this morning! I loved the imagery of “call (pray), text (journal), save a message (memorize Scripture) or return a message (praise Him).”

    And then your memories of 9/11; I hadn’t realized that that was today’s date until I read your blog. We had been studying WWII, and Marla asked, “Mommy, am I going to grow up in World War Three?” Greg and I just kept telling the girls, “Our God is bigger than this; He has already won this war.”

    My prayer corner is the blue chair in my living room. My bible and devotion books sit on the ottoman, and they never get put away. One of the things I do to keep it fresh is read new books. Right now I am going through “Thirty Days to Live”; it’s very powerful.

    There is no clock visible from my chair. I get up early, read and pray as God gives me the time. Sometimes it is five minutes, sometimes an hour! :) When I first started this, it was hard to get up early, but the longer
    I do it, the easier it gets. I keep a notepad and pencil on the ottoman, and when I find my mind wandering, towards my ‘to do’ list, I jot down a note and then ask God to bring my focus back to Him.

    My ‘devotions’ verse is, Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I love starting my day with Peace and Quiet! :)

    Blessings! Jeanne

  14. Does anyone have trouble praying out loud? I freeze up when it’s time to pray out loud. It feels like I’m not actually praying, but just reciting something from memory that I haven’t actually memorized! My boyfriend and I were beginning to speak of marriage and because I can’t pray out loud with him, he’s totally backed off and we’re barely even talking right now. I’m crushed and it seems like such a simple thing to overcome! What in the world is my problem and how do I get past it? I pray silently by myself several times a day, but it just won’t come out of my mouth in front of him or anyone else for that matter. Help!! Any suggestions out there?

  15. Karen,

    What a timely devotion and blog today. I woke up this morning wondering why I don’t talk to God more. I’ve been getting up early so I can spend time with the Lord but then I hardly talk to Him the rest of the day. Why?! I wish this wasn’t something that I struggle with, but I do. I have found some help though. A friend of mine put together a prayer guide (Intimacy with God, Your Daily Guide to Prayer) that is actually offered on the Proverbs 31 website. This journal has really helped me stay focused when I pray and gives scripture references to guide my prayers. It has a place for me to write my prayers out as well. Now, if I would just continue the conversation throughout the day like the chatty teenagers!!!

  16. HI Karen,

    Thanks for such a wonderful analogy about prayer!

    It’s funny that you spoke of phones because I have a ministry of sorts using my cell phone. I send out prayer texts to the people for whom I’m praying. You can read about it on my blog at this link: http://prayergifts.blogspot.com/2008/07/its-lord-again.html In addition to the prayer texts I send out each morning to more than 50 people (some complete strangers that friend have asked to add me to my list..a little weird, but cool!) I also send out intermittent texts during the day if the Lord lays someone on my heart. If a friend is sick, I text the prayer and send it to them at the same time it’s going to the Lord’s ear….next best thing to holding my friend’s hand and praying for them in person. Emails can be used for this same purpose. I believe it’s extremely uplisting for people to have a concrete, tangible representation of prayer to hold in their hands. Prayer incarnate I call it. :)

    Because I do all of this stuff, many people think of me as some kind of “prayer warrior” but I struggle just like most everyone else. Just this morning, I pushed the snooze several times rather than get up and pray and seek God’s face.

    Thanks for all you do….I have your most recent book on my nightstand….my house is a disaster and I need all the help I can get! :) Lee

  17. I just read your Proverbs 31 devotional “A Dime in My Pocket”. I thought it was great. Very thought provoking.

  18. One word WOW….. as I read your comments on your devotional, I said to myself Lord you are speaking to me!
    Everyday I say, I am going to wake up a little earlier to spend time with you just you and I, I set the alarm and when I hear it, I snooze and struggle to get out of bed. I am so tired.
    I struggle very much with this area of my faith and like you Karen, I have seen everyone of my prayers answered. And I wonder, if I have seen the results, why is it so hard for me?
    We pray as a family, as a marriage, but I need more time one on one with the Lord. Glory to the Lord Almighty for guiding your hands to write this, it has hit home in more than one way. I feel blessed.
    Thank you and keep them coming.

    May you be blessed today and always.
    Let’s pray for the familes of the victims of Sept 11th 2001, let’s also pray for the ones that did this so that the Lord may touch their hearts.

  19. I too struggle with prayer. Sometimes I don’t know what to say and other times I feel like I’m just repeating myself over and over again. I do notice that I pray more when things aren’t going well. I try to pray regularly and I do thank Him when things are going well, but I just don’t feel like it’s enough. There are also times when I don’t feel like my prayers are answered and I know it’s in His time and not mine. I’ve started writing my prayers in a journal hoping that it would be more regular. It’s better just not as good as it should be.
    Thank you for your insight on prayer. I’m going to try to remember everytime I see a cell phone.

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