When Do You Pray?

Both the prayer of crisis and (the prayer) of formality prostitutes the art of prayer.  For prayer is to be the continuing impulse toward light, hope, inspiration, spiritual intimacy, and renewal.
Dare to Journey: with Henry Nouwen

Did you catch that?

My prayers of crisis and formality p r o s t i t u t e the beauty and power of prayer.

I’m trying to let that sink in.

Because honestly…
I pray most when I’m freaking out about someone, something or some decision.

I pray consistently when I’m supposed to: for church meetings, at small group, before I eat, etc.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Pray continually. I Thessalonians 5:17

I don’t think the author is suggesting that we shouldn’t pray in crisis or in some formalities, but if that’s the only time we pray we miss the intimacy and relationship that comes with constant contact with our Creator.

How do you make prayer a continual part of your life?

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  • rebeccannb March 4, 2010  

    I constantly take moments through out my day to pray.
    Pray continually. I Thessalonians 5:17 ~ One of my favorite verses!

  • Lindsey_Nobles March 4, 2010  

    It's funny. I am TERRIBLE at praying consistently. I will start a prayer at night and find myself dozing off before I get through my laundry list of things I need to cover. But I do find myself throughout the day having conversations with God. One of the things that has helped me with this is listening to Christian music when I'm in the car. It sounds so lame…but it gets my mind centered every morning.

    • jcatron March 4, 2010  

      Lindsey, that's not lame… it's true that worship/Christian music does clear the clutter.

  • Grant March 4, 2010  

    Wow. Great stuff, Jenni. This is something I've really been trying to be intentional about. At the same time, as I've tried to focus more on praying and having a continual conversation with God, there are times when it just happens without me trying to be so "intentional." I like those times.

    • jcatron March 4, 2010  

      So true, Grant. I love it when it just becomes an overflow of our relationship.

  • brewster March 4, 2010  

    ouch…that slap in the face is going to leave a mark.

  • amparker March 4, 2010  

    I have a trusty green notebook that calls me everyday. I wish I could say it gets it's proper attention daily, but that would not be true. I try to be faithful in writing things down. Each notebook I finish is full of prayers, petitions, and love notes to God. Still working on the no guilt factor when my prayer time is not as intimate as I'd like 🙂

    Also, my kids…keep me praying all the time. Whether it's for patience, wisdom, or their spiritual growth, I know it's my responsibility as a parent to keep them lifted up. If I don't who will?

    • jcatron March 4, 2010  

      Michelle – I love the prayer notebook idea. I have done that off and on and it's such a good way for me to focus and really talk with God. Thank for reminding me to do that.

  • Sherie March 4, 2010  

    I began learning to pray regularly and consistently when I stopped seeing it as something so formal and started treating it as conversation. Now as something comes to my mind or my heart instead of running it around without purpose I often (but not always) find that I converse with the Lord about it. "Hmm, what should we do about that?" "My attitude about this is wrong. Please help me to change." "_____ just came to mind Lord, remember that request for help. Show me if I need to do anything to be involved, otherwise I am trusting in you to answer and to take care of the needs." "I just felt a tugging at my heart. Was that you?"

    The more I share my heart and mind with the Lord the more present he is in it. Prayer is no longer something I do just at certain times through the day, but it is a constant dialogue.

    • jcatron March 4, 2010  

      Love the thought of shifting from formality to conversation… that's what relationships are all about!

  • alece March 4, 2010  

    prayer has never been easy for me. (how's that for confessions of a missionary!) it's something i've had to realign my thinking on.

    i am just not wired to pray for hours on end. my very religious (AKA judgmental) mom is, and has always criticized me for not praying enough. (for not being spiritual enough.) so there's a lot of condemnation tied into prayer for me.

    but i'm discovering that the little arrow prayers i shoot up all day (small thoughts that acknowledge the Lord and invite His presence into wherever i am and whatever i'm doing) are the best way that *i* dialogue with him, NOT forcing myself to try to pray for an hour. there is freedom in that discovery for me.

    granted, i still need to get better at praying. i still need to spend more time praying than i do. i still need to be intentional to focus and pray through the specific things i want to lift up to Him. but i want them to stem from desire, not from judgment.

  • becky March 4, 2010  

    I am loving this Papa Prayer book and it’s Larry Crabb with so much heart and softness, I am blown away.

    He tells the story of going to New York with his young son years ago. And how they planned all this stuff to DO…. being after all in New York City….. how after their first nite they went to Central Park and were playing hide and seek. His son was counting and Larry hid behind a tree in close proximity to his son, how he kept just out of his son’s sight but his son was never out of his. How his son kept looking for him and finally in fear cried out to his Daddy….and in that moment Larry stepped out from behind the tree and his son just grabbed his hand and didn’t care a thing for whatever they were going to DO next, he just wanted to BE WITH HIS DADDY…..that THAT is who God is to and for us, desiring us to simply WANT TO BE WITH HIM and when we are, we get to do the stuff HE wants to show us, the stuff He wants to DO WITH US…I probably am not describing it well but it has impacted me deeply in the why of the Papa Prayer……I want to want to be with Him and then pray.

  • Aaron Shaver March 4, 2010  

    About 4 years ago I really learne from my church family what it was to consistently pray for/with others at the drop of a hat, so to speak.
    Until then if someone said to me (in a church setting or otherwise) “Aaron, I’m really struggling with this or that”, or “I could use your prayers for…” my response would be to tell that I WOULD pray for them. Which indicates that at some point in the future, if I remember it, I might pray for you situation.
    I learned how to respond immediately in prayer over them and I began to expect the same response from my church family.

    I think our gut reaction is discomfort or embarrasment when we imagine someone stopping everything to pray over us right there and then.

    But why put off till tomorrow what you can go to the Lord with right now?

  • anglhugnu2 March 9, 2010  

    As a child I always found prayer to be sort of uncomfortable. It was a real out of-my-mind-and-body experience. As I knelt there praying "Now I lay me down to sleep…" I always wondered "…to whom am I asking "my soul to keep?" ____ Eventually, I would discover the reasoning behind my discomfort. I was asking for things to happen or be a part of my life that were already there. Real happiness, real joy, real love were already there for me to have and to hold always and forever. All I had to do was to not believe as real the delusional lessons of my being somehow flawed from the very beginning. All of what I knew to be true was really true

  • mandythompson March 15, 2010  

    I sure stink at prayer right now. And I don't know if I'll ever "get there" …. I just don't know.