I struggle with shame.
No matter what I do, I always think I could have done it better somehow. I’m constantly having to preach the gospel to myself to remind myself that Christ dealt with our shame on the cross. (If you struggle with shame, check out a link to a helpful book here.)
And when it comes to prayer, I don’t know if I’ve met any Christians that feel like they have an adequate prayer life.
So I’d start by saying “Oh, I want to make sure I’m praying for my family and friends.”
But then I’d start to list all of the family and friends I wanted to pray for, and it felt so overwhelming that I would go through periods of time not praying for them at all.
I have a fairly consistent time in the morning that I dedicate to reading my Bible and praying. In addition to that, I was trying to figure out the best way to consistently pray for the people around me.
HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT?
While the imagery is quite disturbing, there is a valid point. An elephant is quite enormous, but if you wanted to eat it, you would still have to do it one bite at a time.
I stopped being as overwhelmed when I realized I could break it down. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog about family devotionals, and I want to stress the same thing here. You don’t have to do what I do.
Only use this if it’s helpful.
My morning devotional probably looks pretty similar to everyone else’s devotional time.
There is a time of worship (Psalm 100:4)
There is a time of repentance (I John 1:9, Psalm 139:23)
There is a time of casting cares (Psalm 55:22, I Peter 5:7)
There is a time of just being still before God. (Psalm 46:10)
There is a time of making my requests known. (Philippians 4:6-7)
There is a time of praying for God’s Kingdom to be established (Matthew 6:10)
On mornings when I feel distracted and it’s hard to focus, I’ll actually turn to those verses in my Bible and read them out loud and then pray through the verse.
At a later part of the day – for me it’s during lunch break – I’ll set an alarm to pray for other people. I wish I was spiritual enough that I could remember without an alarm, but I’m just not there yet.
PRAYING FOR OTHERS
The breakdown of what I pray for at those times is below.
MONDAYS – I pray for my oldest daughter, and my extended family and my wife’s extended family.
TUESDAYS – I pray for my second oldest daughter, and for my old Young Life kids.
WEDNESDAY – I pray for my son and former basketball teammates.
THURSDAY – I pray for my third oldest daughter and my neighbors.
FRIDAY – I pray for my youngest daughter and my co-workers.
SATURDAY – I pray for my wife and my friends in ministry.
If prayer is difficult for you, know that you are not alone. I still feel like a pre-schooler in the school of prayer, and part of my daily prayer is “Lord, teach us to pray.”
I should also clarify a couple of things. I pray for my family every day, but I pray for each member differently – or more in-depth – on that particular day.
The New Testament also exhorts us to pray without ceasing, and I pray about things immediately if I know of a situation that needs immediate prayer.
It’s not like if someone asked me for urgent prayer for a family member, I’d schedule them in on my chart above.
I should also say that I’m trying to strive for consistency in this. Again, I’ve learned that just having this time to pray for people in place makes it easier to get back in a groove when I get out of rhythm.
And I want to hear from you, too.
What is one helpful thing you have learned about prayer that you can share with others?