Sometimes prayer is like eating broccoli, spinach, and lima beans. You know it’s good for you, but some days it’s just really hard to fit it on your plate, especially when your plate is already full of children, husband, church activities, job, housekeeping, and more. Unlike green vegetables, though, prayer is commanded by God. In my topical reference Bible under the heading, “Prayer—Exemplified” these names are listed: Jacob, Gideon, Hannah, David, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Habakkuk, Anna, Jesus, Paul, and Peter. If these men and women of unbelievable faith and God’s own Son are described as being “prayers,” then we definitely need to stay in communication with God. Hopefully this article will provide some practical and encouraging tips to work prayer into the busiest of days.
Like any good habit, it’s not going to just happen. We must set aside intentional time to pray. This time will probably shift around from year to year depending upon your season in life and your personal preference. The important thing to remember is there is no right or wrong time to schedule prayer time.
When I was a new mother, I tried finding a new schedule for my day. Every single devotional I read and every female Christian author I studied raved about their morning prayer time, so I jumped in with both feet… and lasted one day. I am not a morning person and no amount of good intentions could make me one. I usually am not even fully awake until noon! Add in a newborn and limited sleep and there was no way I was getting up at 6 AM every morning to do anything. I found my groove with the baby and with prayer time a couple of months into the mothering gig. I prayed and studied during nap time, which worked great until nap time ended and baby number two came along. So I had to readjust.
Now at this point in my life, with three children and homeschooling, I have suddenly found myself scheduling that early morning prayer time and loving it. If I don’t get to prayer time in the morning before little feet hit the floor, then it is not going to happen. Not to mention that starting off my day with prayer helps me have a better attitude with my children and my husband all day long.
As a side note, the most common time of day mentioned in the Bible for prayer is in the morning. But you are more likely to stick with prayer time if it works with you and your life, so try different times until you find something that works.
Once you have chosen a specific time slot to devote to prayer, do it. Every day. Don’t skip, even if there is craziness going on in your life (which is when you probably need prayer the most!). In the list above of those who exemplified prayer in the Bible, Daniel is listed. The one thing that we know about Daniel, and the one thing his enemies knew about Daniel, is that you could find him praying at the same time, in the same place three times a day (Daniel 6:10-11).
Who wouldn’t want to have the kind of prayer life Daniel did? So I took my cues from him; I designated a certain time and a certain “place”. In my bedside table I have my Quiet Time drawer. It contains the church bulletin from the current week which lists the sick and those asking for prayer, my Bible, my current Bible study, current memory verse on an index card, and a notepad where I write specific prayer requests that friends and family have asked me to pray for them about. This drawer is my prayer place. In the quiet of the morning I open this drawer quietly, grab my things, and head to the living room to sit in the rocking chair to pray and study.
When you are trying to form a habit of exercise, one of the tips that a trainer gives you is to lay out your workout clothes and shoes the night before so when the alarm goes off in the morning, everything is laid out and ready for you to exercise. When you are trying to form the habit of consistent prayer it helps to have all of the things you need to pray laid out and ready for when prayer time is scheduled.
But what about those days when it all falls apart? The regularly scheduled programming is interrupted by life. It’s on those days that some creativity must take place. Here are just a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing:
- Short and Sweet: Come up with a fall back prayer that you can say in about 1-2 minutes, but covers the major areas of your life. Mine goes something like this, “God, help me to have patient hands, a loving heart, and lips that encourage. Cover those in pain and going through trials with your mighty hand and heal any brokenness you find. Thank you for my blessings and help me to see even more of them today. You are God Almighty and I ask for your strength to flood my life and the lives of those around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” While I don’t always say this exact prayer, it covers the bases pretty well.
- In the Shower: I’ve not used the restroom by myself in about 9 years, but I do still get to shower alone. Use that time to quickly pray. I will admit it feels strange at first to pray in the shower, but I’ve gotten over it. In fact, I find the shower lends itself especially well to praying for forgiveness or changes of heart. My mind automatically thinks of David’s pleas to be pure in Psalm 51:2, 7, where he asks God to “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,” so he will be “whiter than snow.”
- In the Car: When I taught school, I prayed the entire drive to work. I turned off the radio and talked out loud like Jesus was sitting in the car with me. I would ask Him to help me be a good Christian example to my students and co-workers. If there were specific students or teachers that were on my mind, then I would pray for them by name. While I don’t have a job outside the home anymore, I still like to pray in the car for the people at our destination, strangers at the grocery store, the families in our homeschool group, our church family, etc. Use that “wasted” time in the car for a righteous purpose.
- Doing Chores: They have to be done, so use them as times of prayer. This is the perfect time to thank God for his blessings: the abundance of clothes (and washing machines!), multiple rooms in your home, plenty of food and a place to store it, indoor plumbing, heating and cooling, etc. Since I spend most of my time in the kitchen, I have index cards taped inside my upper kitchen cabinet doors. They are labeled with categories such as, husband, children, family, friends, church members, praises and blessings, myself, special requests. When I open that cabinet to put something away or get something out, I see my card and say a prayer for the person or thing that comes to mind. Whatever method you find, use your busyness around your home or office to work prayer into your day.
The one thing to be mindful of about these quick, creative prayers is they should not replace scheduled prayer time. If you’ve gone more than a few days without meeting God for a deep conversation, then you either need to change the time you have scheduled or force yourself to make time. No relationship can survive very well on only minutes of interaction. Make sure you return to your normal prayer and study time as soon as possible!!!
One thing that is the same about prayer and green vegetables is that you need both to healthy! Keep your prayer life strong and your spiritual life will be strong as well. As Christian women we should want everyone to see our lives as Prayer—Exemplified, but to do that we must make time for it conveniently, consistently, and creatively.
By Chelli Guthrie
Chelli is the Let it Overflow Editor for CFYC. She and her husband, Luke, work with the Abell St. church of Christ in Wharton, Texas, where Luke is the pulpit minister. Chelli teaches the Jr. High class on Sunday mornings and leads the Children’s Bible Hour program on Sunday nights. She is a full-time mom who homeschools their three children: Grace (9), Sophia (4), and Levi (2). Her blog is www.theplantedtrees.blogspot.com.