The Praying Dog Walker

Is it wrong to enjoy praying?

No.

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 checklist-2077022_640interminable 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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

The Worst Summer Ever

Hot and rainy, this summer doesn’t even begin to register on the scale of bad summers. Nothing can top that awful summer when I wasn’t allowed to check any books out of the library. Not. One. Single. Book.

Since I’m a writer of fiction, allow me to fudge on the details a bit. I probably served my sentence in the summer, when time crawled for this non-athletic introvert. We’ll say it’s the summer before fifth grade. Perfect. That’s the same summer Mother made me memorize the multiplication tables the weekend before school began. Let’s make it the day before school began. Oh, unhappy Labor Day, stuck in the bedroom until 9×9 always came out 81!

In the olden days, when this tale occurs, the only other source of books besides the library was a bookstore! When you find out what my literary crime was, you won’t even bother asking if my mother let me go to the bookstore.

What was my crime? Too many overdue library books and a fine that broke my piano-teacher mother’s budget. We’ll say  $3.65! Gasp! In the interest of authenticity I double-checked my estimate. After all, I’m no Dr. Evil, holding the world hostage for a million dollar ransom. Okay, Google. What would $3.65 be in today’s economy? $29.20? (http://www.in2013dollars.com/1965-dollars-in-2018?amount=3.65) Not bad for someone who learned her multiplication tables so late in life!

So now you know the scandalous reason I was banned from going to the library.

What’s a suffering bookworm to do after she rereads her meager personal book collection? Write some stories of her own? Of course.

And now for the true confessions. I’ve always loved to write as much as I loved to read. My mother and my teachers were generous in their encouragement of my writing. In fifth grade, with the times tables under my belt, I wrote and starred in the class American history play, Ghosts! Ghosts! Ghosts! In junior high, I wrote a two-book YA series, Everyday Escapades. (If I become famous, no one will find it.) In my thirties, I tried my hand at freelance writing and had a handful of articles and poems published.

I wasn’t quite ready for prime time.

Fast forward into the present. I’ve done some more living, losing and missing the mark. Thankfully, God has kept a strong grip on me through all the ups and downs. Fiction helps me share what He’s taught me. My characters are women and men confronting challenges in their lives–people like us. I invite you to let them entertain you and encourage you.

Root for the heroine or the villain–it doesn’t matter.

Anybody can grow…in grace.