As much as it is hard for me to admit, prayer is sometimes hard for me. Prayer can feel like a muscle that I need to exercise. When I am regularly in a rhythm of having a conversation with God through prayer each morning, my “prayer muscle” feels strong. I feel like I could pray for hours. I never find myself wondering what to say to God next. But when that muscle hasn’t been exercised in a while, or when it has grown week with misuse, or a lack of use, I find myself unsure of how to strengthen it. I find myself wondering how I can exercise my way back into a strong prayer life.
Now, here is a theological reality for both you and me. Read closely, especially if this is some thing you also struggle with. We are not accepted by God based on how proficient we are in prayer. We are only welcomed by God into his family because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. God’s love does not grow cold towards us when we don’t know what to pray. We are not welcomed more deeply into his family when we pray exceptionally well. We are accepted by him based only on the work of Christ. He cannot love us any more or any less than he already does because of Jesus.
And yet… We find ourselves gladly communing more deeply with God as we grow in our prayer life. Our experience of our relationship with God deepens based on how much we pray, the quality of our prayer life, the depth of our prayerful reliance upon him. And as we strengthen our “prayer muscle”, if you will, it’s not our relationship with God that changes, but our experience of that relationship.
Since I am in a season of needing to grow in my prayer life, I thought I would share a simple tool that I have employed in the past that I am hopeful will serve me well in this season as well. Make it your own, alter it to fit your life and needs, and grow in prayer with me!
Create a prayer schedule
One of my biggest struggles in my prayer life is knowing what to pray for, so by creating a prayer schedule I am helped in the early hours of the morning when I’m not sure what to pray about next. I like to create two schedules: one for each day of the week, and one for each day of the month.
On my weekly schedule, I place the topics that are highest priority for me. I pray for my husband, my marriage, my children, my own personal growth. These names and topics are what you will find on each of my daily prayer lists (Monday through Friday). And then I place other topics that I want to pray for regularly on my monthly prayer list (1st through 31st). On these you’ll find the Housechurch leaders from our church, our church elders, the culture of our church community, my neighbors, the lost friends in my life, and in my extended family, my parents, future decisions we are praying through.
Here’s an example:
Monday: personal character
Tuesday: Austin, marriage
The first of every month: Trinity HouseChurch leaders
The second of every month: Trinity elders
The third of every month: the culture of our church
Here’s how I use these prayer lists
Every day I will start by praying through the items on the list that match that day of the week. On Monday, I will pray through all of the items on Monday’s prayer list. I will pray through personal growth for myself, through my character, and I will add to this list as the Lord lays new things to add on my heart. This is why I keep a pen nearby! This list is ever growing and changing.
And then I will pray through the monthly prayer list that correlates with the day of the month. So, for example, if it is Monday the 12th, I will pray through all of the items on the prayer list for the 12th of each month. In this way, I’m praying through two lists every day, the daily prayer list and the monthly prayer list.
Making it accessible
I wrote each of these prayer lists on a simple note card. I think I got a pack of 100 at the grocery store for $.99. To keep them all together I plan to hole punch them and put them on the key ring that I can easily put through them each day. I will keep them in my Bible, next to all of my quiet time study materials. This way, they are always easy to grab an easy to flip through!
I hope these ideas serve you well, as easy to grow in prayer! If you have any ideas of your own, or any methods that have served you well I would love to hear about it!