Is it wrong to enjoy praying?
No, it’s not wrong, but that doesn’t mean I always do.
Growing up, we prayed in King James English and said a memorized grace at meals. (I confess I resorted to that memorized grace a lot as an adult, too.)
In college, there were group prayers where I spent most of the time thinking up what I was planning to say and trying to sound spiritual.
During much of my adulthood, I enjoyed journaling and those journals often morphed into real prayers. Praying in the car on the way to school worked for me then, too.
But I’ll confess to years at a time that were close to prayerless.
In His grace, God didn’t let me stay that way. Eventually, I had to pray.
Fast forward a few years to the present.
I still struggle. I love the idea of praying continually, but do I have to wade through an interminable list and feel guilty if I leave someone out? What do I do with the “are we done yet?” in the back of mind, or the thoughts about my grocery list?
Visuals help. I “pray around the country” for family members and unsaved friends, going in different directions for variety’s sake and zooming off to a foreign country on a tangent, then back again.
I pray when I walk Angie the dog or when I’m driving. I’ve given myself permission not to finish in one sitting.
I’ve tried a schedule with a different focus on each day, but I always feel like I’m leaving someone out. Scratch that.
A couple of weeks ago, as part of our Wednesday night study on spiritual warfare, our pastor, Josh Daffern, discussed “Praying on Purpose.” One of the strategies he described was to pray a word for someone, letter by letter–a sort of mnemonic device. (Hang in there. ACTS never worked for me, either.) His first word was PURPOSE. You can check out the recording of the study to hear how he used it, along with a great story. I guess this process is somewhat addictive–in a good way–because Josh went on to generate several more words!
I got hooked, too. I couldn’t stop thinking of words. At last, a different focus for people and situations–something to make my routine, often burdensome list fresh and exciting. When a word popped into my head, a prayer was born, letter by letter. It was easy to tuck a quick but meaningful prayer into a stray moment.
Here’s how I used LEADERS to pray for our nation’s leaders. You might come up with something different:
L-Pray that they will LEAN on God’s wisdom and strength.
E-Pray that they will lead with EXCELLENCE.
A-Pray that they will be ABLE leaders.
D-Pray that they will be DEDICATED to serving God and their constituents.
E-Pray that they will have ENCOURAGERS in their lives.
R-Pray that they will LIVE RIGHT. (Thanks, Pastor Josh, for R.)
S-Pray that they will be SAVED.
What can you do with THANKS? (See my answers below.)
Before you grab a notebook and pen and go crazy, let me tell you why this has been such a liberating strategy for me:
- Since I live in a world of words, this process automatically puts me in “pray continually” mode.
- As I use little bits of time throughout the day to pray, I connect more often with God.
- I avoid meaningless repetition because I can change the mnemonic when things get stale. I don’t dread a particular category on my list.
- When I forget what a letter stands for, I’m prompted to think of a different meaning–hence, more variety.
- If you pray in a group, with a spouse, or with your children, generating words to pray would be an engaging activity. You could even use a person’s name as a springboard for prayer.
No, my prayers haven’t become one giant acrostic, but this strategy has answered a need in my life. I hope you’ll try it, too.
It’s okay to enjoy prayer.
Let me know how it works for you!
Here’s what I did with THANKS:
T-TANGIBLE blessings; H-HEAVENLY blessings; A-ADVANTAGES; N-NATURE and creation;
K-KINSHIP with Jesus; S-SALVATION.