My 10-y-old's prayer list
As I mentioned in a previous post, it helps to have a specific strategy for prayer. Most people would probably agree that they wished they prayed more but how do we make that happen?
My 10-year-old son wrote his prayers down and taped it next to his nightstand. The adult Sunday school class I teach circulates a prayer list and then I e-mail it to everyone.
These things might sound simple but it pays to have specific “action items” to keep focused. What do you do to pray better?
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Pray without ceasing. Now I lay me down to sleep. Our father who art ….
Most Christians have heard all the prayer slogans, themes, quotes or whatever you want to label them. But most Christians would also tell you that prayer is not something they practice regularly. I suspect many Christians pray hardly at all, unless they desperately want something.
Why do we not pray?
Of course we get busy and there are tons of distraction, such as television. Making time to pray does require some discipline. Here’s a very simple way to start on that road to regular, daily prayer:
Schedule Exact Prayer Times
We schedule haircuts. We schedule dentist appointments. Vacations months in advance. Why not prayer?
Here’s what you should do: schedule two times during the day that you will pray. Pick exact times, such as 8 a.m. or 10 p.m. Write it down on your calendar. Put it on a note and tape it to your bathroom mirror.
Make the same effort that you would for other appointments as you do for your “prayer appointment.” Sure, you may miss a few times but make it a priority. It will change your life and prepare you to face any crisis!
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Close hands. Close eyes. Make your requests.
C’mon, admit it: This is probably how most of us pray. (If we pray much at all.) So how about a lesson on how to pray from the late Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa, who spent more than 40 years serving the poor in India.
In No Greater Love
, she says prayer can be difficult because we don’t know how, yet we must learn. She starts with something quite simple but still difficult in this modern world:
“The first means to use is silence. We cannot put ourselves directly in the presence of God if we do not practice internal and external silence.”
As a father of three children, I know how difficult it can be to find that silence during the day. But it is possible. So turn off the television. Turn off the iPod. Get rid of any noise or sounds and start to pray like a saint!
One time I made a big mistake. I was coming out of the surgery room after having a biopsy done when I only had a local anesthesia and as they were wheeling me out, I took a peak at the instruments they used. Big mistake. Lots of long metal things that now had a nice red tint to them!
I don't watch any medical procedures. Not even at the dentist. I learned to keep my eyes closed in those situations. Those concrete details are better left to my imagination, I say.
Except with prayer, I learned the opposite: Keep your eyes wide open. This one small thing changed how I pray.
Think about how we learned to pray when we were little: Bow your head and close your eyes. Even now, at church, those are the directions we're given.
But the Apostle Paul says to pray without ceasing
. How do you do that without banging into the dresser or stubbing your toe on the couch?!
You do that by keeping your eyes open. If prayer is a conversation with God, I don't want it to end when I open my eyes. Yet that's how prayer is for lot's of people.
Many Christians would probably say they don't pray enough. That might be because we view prayer as an event. We have to be somewhere and do something. But if you pray with your eyes open, you can pray all the time while you do anything.
That's not to say that a quiet prayer time when you do bow your head is worthless. I still do that. But now, when I open my eyes, I know the conversation's not over.
How do you pray without ceasing?