In Monday’s blog, we got transparent about prayer and talked about the 5 major reasons that we suffer prayer shortages in our lives. As 200church pastors, we know that prayer is vital to our ministries, but often there is a gap between what we know and what we do. On today’s podcast, we talk about approaches for bridging that gap and moving beyond our excuses for why we don’t pray.
The first reason we give for our prayer shortage is that we get too distracted. To counter this, we talked about:
Think about prayer as a two way conversation: Often, we think of prayer as being “requestional” when really prayer is meant to be relational. Take time to really talk to God, not just about our needs, but about our lives.
Take a prayer drive: Sometimes, we just have to get out. Take a drive (without the radio) and just talk to God. Talk out loud! Taking God out of the building can do a lot for a conversation.
Be constantly aware of God’s presence: One of the most difficult things for us to remember about prayer is that God is a person and he is constantly with us. We believe that “pray without ceasing” is more about being aware of God’s presence than wearing out your knees in the sanctuary.
The second reason for our shortage is that we often feel we have no time. What we need to recognize instead is:
We don’t have time NOT to pray! If our goal is truly to have a Spirit-led and empowered ministry, we need to make prayer a priority. We've all probably heard of putting “first things first” in our lives, and prayer is the first of those first things.
When we say we don’t have time to pray, what we’re really saying is that we believe prayer is optional and that something else is more important. Don’t believe those lies any longer and always make time for prayer first.
The third reason we give for not praying is that we forget. So how do we remember?
Schedule your prayer: Scot McKnight writes about this in his book Jesus Creed and it’s an important lesson for all of us to remember. Set an alarm on your phone or computer. Leave sticky notes on your desk. Schedule time for prayer and you won’t forget for long.
Find a prayer resource: In some protestant traditions, the idea of reading or writing prayers makes people shudder. But finding a Book of Common Prayer or writing some of your own prayers can be an excellent way to keep prayer at the top of our minds and our lives. Don’t be afraid of some structure in your prayer life!
Finally, we often miss prayer time because we wonder if our prayer actually makes any difference.
Truthfully, this is a difficult thing to talk about for pastors and church leaders. We’re called to pray at emergencies, at weddings, at funerals and dozens of places in between. One of the best ways to remember that prayer really does matter is to keep track of what we are telling God. Don’t do this with the expectation of getting more positive answers, but just as a way to remember what God has done in your life and your ministry.
The bottom line for all of us is that we need to make prayer a priority in our lives! These are some of the approaches we’ve tried and are continually working on. Are there any others that have worked for you?
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