Jesus said in John 10: 10 that He “came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
While I’m still trying to full-time live that way, I’m constantly reminded of a very important lesson. It all starts with prayer.
And not the quick, routinely offered prayers. Abundant life prayers need to be humble, honest, and Spirit-filled. They need to be practiced but not routine. Abundant life prayers need to be actively pursued and the brain (and spirit) needs to be engaged.
While I’m sure that you never have quick, routine prayers, I find myself slipping into the habit quite often. Prayer becomes just another check on my to-do list.
However, it’s when that honest, humble, Spirit-prayer life is engaged that freedom reigns, identity is found unwavering, joy prospers, and opportunities arise.
I may not always get it right. In fact, I still frequently get it wrong. But I’m learning to be better. And that’s always a good thing.
Here are three things that I’m learning to be deliberate about in my prayer life to keep it Spirit-filled and fully engaged —
1.Give Thanks & Praise
Thanking God for every day things is important. Praising Him for Who He is vital. Regardless of my circumstance, God is good and His plans are perfect. While I may not always feel this way, I pray this way because God never changes.
Okay, I get it, this isn’t always easy — especially when it seems the world is falling apart around you. When it seems that thanks just won’t come, I make a list. Anything and everything that is good, I write it down. Situations that I know are only temporary in light of eternity, I write down. I look for silver linings and remember God’s nature and say them aloud — even when I don’t really feel like it.
Sometimes we have to act our way into feeling rather than feel our way into acting.
2.Seek & Confess
Prayer is not just about who He is, it’s about who I am. A sinner saved by Grace.
Sin will still creep into my life. Areas of apathy, pride, or immaturity need be addressed. So, I ask God to reveal those areas that need work. Once discovered, I confess and ask for guidance to help me rid my life of those behaviors. Never has something disappeared immediately so I continue to seek guidance and confess those behaviors.
While seeking and confession are important, when I’m struggling with depression and anxiety, I find myself using this time to beat myself up — which is bad! There’s no easy solution to this one because the enemy uses my already warped thinking to make matters worse. To combat this, I keep it simple.
God doesn’t kick us when we’re down. He doesn’t seek to beat us up. God is love and He is loving. The thoughts that are destructive instead of constructive are not of God so when those thoughts creep in, I tell them to shut-up and then I pull from my list of verses that remind me of all the good things God says about me.
I still practice confession but I don’t dwell there. I still acknowledge the areas that I need to work on and I seek God’s guidance in those areas but I don’t allow myself to use my prayer time to amplify those downer feelings.
3.Change it up
I get bored easily. Even in my prayer time. For this reason, I keep it fresh.
What do I mean? Each day of the week I pray for something different. Monday is a day to pray for family members. Tuesday is for friends. Wednesday is for my church, missionaries, and the Church as a corporate unit. On Thursdays I pray for blog readers, people I follow on Instagram, and just about any other person that God brings to mind. I call Thursday my ‘Swing Day.’ Finally, Friday is for the nation and my leaders. Saturday and Sunday are days free to pray for whatever and whoever.
Have you ever tried something to mix up your prayer time? What did you try? How did it work out?
I know we’re all different people. These are not a sure-fire way of keeping your prayers Spirit-filled. Even they can become empty and routine.
Awareness and engagement are important. Words should not pore out without meaning. The Bible is helpful in reminding us of ways that we can keep prayer deliberate. But the choice is up to you — you have to practice keeping yourself actively engaged.
Happy Praying! And if there’s anything you want special prayer for, please, feel free to ask!