Thursday, April 8, 2010

Struggling to pray

The Global Prayer Walk is more than half over. I am impressed with how God is using His followers to impact the world. I am glad for Grace Brethren International Missions and their commitment to provide a prayer guide. I appreciate GBIM for expanding the prayer guide to include what national Christians are doing in partnership with those of us in the United States.  I look forward to praying through the rest of the prayer guide.

One of the ongoing battles in my life is habitual prayer. Although prayer is one of the foundational stones for a vibrant spiritual life, I find it difficult to incorporate it regularly. In fact, I know that the Bible challenges everyone to "pray without ceasing," to pray continually (I Thessalonians 5:17). Yet I am so distracted by many things: Google reader, ESPN, weather channel, music on the radio or on the shuffle, phone calls, text messages, tweets, FB notifications, etc.   What's a follower of Christ suppose to do?

I must lash prayer to my highest values. If following God is a high value, then I will make time to pray. What the prayer guide does for me is set my focus on what God is doing in the world.  It provides an overview of what God is doing. Then as I am prompted I can focus my attention to one or two people or countries or emphases from the prayer guide to explore more intensely. 

To make something a habit involves a measure of discipline. I read a great book by Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit (2003), where she advocates planning for creativity. She demystifies creativity. She also provides insight for making something as intangible and abstract as creativity into a tangible, concrete habit.  Likewise, you can create a prayer habit.  Although I do not have 12 chapters and 32 exercises for you to learn how to develop a prayer habit. I will offer a comment and one exercise that has helped me.

One thing Twyla shares, rituals are "automatic but decisive patterns of behavior at the beginning of the creative process."  I apply this to prayer. To make prayer a habit, I must institute an automatic but decisive pattern of behavior at the beginning of the process to trigger prayer.  So try this exercise that Pastor Ivanildo shared with me. As soon as he awakens, he gets out of bed and goes to his knees to pray.  If you cannot make it on your knees, then sit up and bow your head.  Place the prayer guide near your bed--on your nightstand, shelf, pile of clothes, or stack-able crates. So when you awaken, open it and pray.  Try this with me this week.

If you have a helpful exercise to create a prayer habit, then please share it here or on the Facebook event page.  We need each other. We need to help each other.  Please post how you are moving towards a habit of prayer. 

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