When you ask me to pray for you, I want to follow through on that task. Too often I remember once or twice over the next couple days, but don’t really make a plan to follow through. Recently I have been focusing on bringing intentionality to the way I pray for my friends and the circumstances.
When you offer to pray for something, what steps do you take to make sure this happens? How do you activate your prayer warrior powers? I believe in the power of prayer, in the reality that God hears our petitions, and within his will, responds to our request.
I have refocused lately on a few tactics to better honor my promises and/or convictions to prayer for a person or situation. When I say I will pray for something I want to find ways to follow through. Here are some practical tips I have used to infuse prayer into the midst of my busy days.
This post is about developing strategies to initiate prayer, not necessarily the steps to take once you are ready to pray, maybe that’s another post for another day. Really the biggest battle in prayer is finding the time and intentionally freeing some brain space to do it. These are pretty simple strategies, but don’t we just need simple sometimes? I hope these tips, some time-tested and some new, can help you proudly take up your prayer warrior shield.
Pray in the very moment. Say you’re talking on the phone or catching up at a coffee shop with a friend. The friend explains a situation or circumstance that they request you intercession for, the easy and often honest answer I normally offer is “I will be praying for that.” What if instead, we said ” I will pray for that situation and I would like to start right here and right now.” This way you don’t leave the conversation and forget your commitment to pray. Stop in the middle of the conversation and pray over this person or circumstance. Sometimes this shocks friends, but the feel the presence of your prayers immediately.
Use triggers. Find an action or situation that happens to you daily and use that as your trigger to pray for the intention. It could be brushing your teeth, turning on your car headlights, putting on your shoes, placing your child in to bed, washing the dishes or anything your brain can imagine. I had a friend and mentor that even used the toilet as their trigger. We are physical people with bodies. Sometimes are bodies are what make us forget or distract us from pray, but there are also many ways, like triggers, we can use our bodies and senses as aides toward prayer.
Prayer cards. Here is another tangible tactic. You can use index cards to write people’s prayers down, first name on front of the card and some intentions and prayers in bullet point fashion on the back. Some people utilize a section on their written planner for this. I try to use my cards in the moments that I would’ve grabbed from my phone. I keep the small stack in my purse, and when I’m in a waiting room, standing in a long line, or I just have found time, instead of scrolling through the glowing screen, I try to grab these prayer cards. I look at the name on the front, turn the card over and see the request and I offer up a simple prayer for the person. I am goal oriented, so these cards kind of feel like getting to place a check mark on my to do list.… And you can use them over and over and over. You can always add more things, or take things off the cards. This a tool I have used in the past that I am going to try to bring back.
Lift it up. Find a task you can do as work, and offer the energy and/or pain of the task up as a prayer. This is probably another topic that could be a post on its own. Don’t let any pain or suffering in your life go to waste. Just as Jesus’ suffering on the cross accomplished big things, so too can your little ones. Maybe you’re like my husband and poopy diapers really are a suffering, or like me and a long commute is always wearing on you. As you begin this unliked or even just uncomfortable task lift it up for others intentions. I have seen people do this with things as big as labor pain and end of life illness as well as with tiny things like an appliance not working or having a bad parking spot. Maybe its handling difficult people or phone calls or a sickness that your body is fighting. I urge you to look into the beauty of the art of suffering. Here is a quote that explains it well.
“The incarnate Son of God did not remove illness and suffering from human experience but by taking them upon himself he transformed them and gave them new meaning. New meaning because they no longer have the last word which, instead, is new and abundant life; transformed them, because in union with Christ they need no longer be negative but positive.” – Pope Francis
“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ”
― C.S. Lewis,
Check back. This might seem like an overly simple tip, but again lets not underestimate simple. Sometime I will have prayers for an intention two or three times and it starts to get stale. The words I am using no longer have any punch or conviction behind them. I need to refresh my prayer by checking in on the situation. Often when you do this with a quick phone call or message you can turn back around to point number 1, pray in that moment. I don’t think I can over stress the point not to get frustrated when your body or mind fail you’re prayer warrior dreams. If you are starting to lose steam with a particular request, check back in or do some tease arch about the situation to get fueled up.
Be still, sacrifice your time for someone. This is a big one. Probably one of the biggest ways I personally can sacrifice for someone is to offer them my time. This doesn’t always be spend time with them, often it means stop your scheduled programming and be still. Purposefully turn off Netflix or put down your book. Wait in a parking lot for a few minutes before going in the store, go for a walk when you would rather just take a nap. Choose to slow down and spend a few minutes still or quiet for an intention. This is a very hard one to make happen daily, but it is exactly that reason why it is such a great idea.
Sacraments and Sacramentals. These are gifts from an ancient church that I far too often don’t take advantage of. Go get you some sacraments! (looking in the mirror) Go to a week day service with a special intention in mind, spend some time in front of the blessed sacrament, break down any walls between you an God by seeking out his forgiveness. Utilize these prayers said for thousands and or hundreds of years. In the moments when you are so tired or exhausted that you can’t even make out sentence, rely on the word of the angel in Luke chapter 1 and pray the rosary or the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 and send up an Our Father. There are many ancient prayers that you can find to aid you in a specific request. This last tactic is a ginormous source of prayer tools and graces. The church has built on the foundation Christ founded in the first century as well as preserving the way the first century Christians prayed.
For more quick takes head over to This Aint The Lyceum.
This month is a fun linktober event, with a different question each week. This week is a favorite quick takes post. A post I wrote without the structure of quick takes but I love is What my newborn taught me about god’s love