5 R’s: #2 Regular Prayer Life
Here’s the deal. God–the great big unfathomable God who created everything from atoms to galaxies, who parted the Red Sea, who brought dead people back to life, who is creating a place so wonderful for you and I to live someday that we can’t even imagine it–wants a personal, daily, intimate, detectable, 2-way, relationship with…you. God wants to change your life and make it somethin’ special. God wants to wrap you in the blanket of His inexhaustible love. God wants to show you His stuff and impress you until you’re so bedazzled (isn’t that a great word?) that you feel like you can’t take one more exciting thrill. How is He going to do all of this unless you give Him the chance?
If you want your life to be really different a year from now, do this. Buy the book by Becky Tirabassi called, “The Burning Heart Contract .” Read it. Sign on the dotted line. Make the commitment to spend an hour a day with God for the rest of your life. At least commit to spend an hour a day with God for the whole next year. I dare you. You will never be the same.
When I first heard Becky talk about spending an hour a day with God, I thought, “A whole hour? (high-pitched whining is heard in the background) What could I possibly do for a whole hour with God? Besides, I don’t have that kind of time.” At that point, I had a hard time spending ten minutes a day with God. But when I got the One Year Bible NLT as Becky suggested, and I started journaling my prayers to God, I discovered an hour wasn’t enough! The time would go so fast I had to start cutting back to keep from going two hours! As a side note, you can also follow along with my OYB blog where you will grow immensely in your understanding of the Bible from many angles. Watch the Bible come to life through this one year journey with me!
Here’s what works for me, but you can tailor this to your own lifestyle and do what works for you. That’s always the key…taking something that is a proven concept and shaping it to your lifestyle, schedule, and personality. Before I go to bed at night, I set an hour appointment with God for the next day. I have found that early morning is about the only thing that works for me because later in the day, my mind is busy analyzing everything it comes in contact with (I’m a writer, remember?), and distracted by daily details and responsibilities. When I first wake up, my brain activity is minimal and ready to focus on one thing. I have also found that I must use an hour where I am not needed by or bothered by my family. For me, this means getting up early enough so that when my hour is finished, I still have time to help “fix hair” and make lunches.
When my alarm clock alerts me to my appointment in the morning, I head bleary-eyed with a cup of hot chai to my office which has an inspiring view of the mountains, and sit at my desk. By the time I get to my desk, I am awake and ready to meet with my Most High.
4 tips for getting up early:
1. Put your alarm clock across the room. Don’t turn it off until you are safely up.
2. Get a rooster (not recommended for city living or for people living near “unstable” neighbors).
3. Get a cat (cats are very annoying in the morning because they either beg to go outside at the crack of dawn, or they get all cuddly and “kneady” at that particular time of day).
4. Ask an early bird (and dedicated) friend to call you every morning at a certain time. Converse until you are awake.
My hour with God is divided into five parts:
2. Admit/ Requests
4. God Speaks
I use a 3 ring binder (8.5″ x 5.5″) with tabs for each of these sections in that order, in which to write out my conversations with God. I have found that writing prayers is a wonderful opportunity to record things God says to me and a way to look back to see my spiritual progress. I wouldn’t do it any other way. It also keeps my mind focused and intent on talking to God, and it makes talking to Him much more tangible and personal–like I’m actually writing to a friend–not just saying words.
This is a great section for expressing your love for God creatively. I use it for any expression or avenue of adoration to God. I’ve written poems, rephrased worship Psalms into my own first-person words, written out lyrics to songs or hymns, gotten out my craft bin to make special occasion cards, write out verses that talk about His amazing personality, and even attached photos (found on google) of particular parts of creation that inspire me (beaches, northern lights , actual snowflake patterns , sunsets, rainbows, etc…), along with expressing my awe and amazement over His creativity. This is a time to just “love on” Jesus as your husband and best friend, God as your Father, and the Holy Spirit as your guide and comforter. You can distinguish them, depending on who you want to appreciate that day–they play different roles in your life.
There is no formula here, just treat God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) like you treated that person you had a mad crush on way back when. Find things about His personality that are amazing to you and dwell on them. Be creative. Be personal. Be genuine!
I use this section for admitting areas that I’m struggling with or failing in (repentance). I ask for His forgiveness and help in this area. No matter how many times I have to write it out again the next day, I stay honest with Him about everything I need to. I also write to Him about everything on my heart that day for instance: Things I’m sad or happy about, everything I’m concerned/fearful/worried about, His purpose for me that day and for my life, divine appointments with people I’m going to see that day, relinquishing control of my life to His control, and anything else on my heart that day that is very pressing.
This is the least changing part of the prayer notebook. I give all the people I’m praying for their own page/section. I make a list of requests for that person and then I write out prayers for them as I feel the need. Sometimes it is often, sometimes, it is periodic. This practice can bring about wonderful opportunities with people. When a prayer is answered for the person I’m praying for, I give them the prayers from my journal as a testimony to God’s answer on their behalf (and my love and devotion in praying for them). This can have a very powerful effect on people you are praying for.
In this section, I also write out verses of deliverance inserting people’s names into the verses. I have done entire journals for each of my kids using this practice. You can also write letters to the people you are praying for, expressing things you can’t actually say to them. It can be very healing in cases of working through forgiveness, or giving your side of the story to people who misunderstand you. Even though they might not read it for now, or never, you will feel better just saying it. I’ve done this with my kids and I fully plan to give them the prayer journals also with the many letters I’ve written to them when they are grown and spiritually mature.
At this point in my appointment with God, I stop writing and read the Daily Bible entry for that day. After reading, I move to the next section.
This is my favorite section, for obvious reasons. I use this to record all the ways God works and speaks into my life, not just in my prayer times but through any avenue of my life. It may be a verse He impresses as a promise in my life, or a new understanding He gives me about a verse I never thought about before. It may be through the word of a pastor, friend, or book I’ve read where I heard Him speak directly to me. It may be an experience I had where I felt His presence or received some kind of answer to a dilemma or comfort for a hurt. Anything where I feel Him reaching back into my life, I try to be a good student and write it down. This makes for a great way to look back and see my history with Him. It also gives me many things to write about and share with others. If I didn’t write them down, I’d forget. Remembering is a big deal to God. He was always instructing the Israelites to remember so they wouldn’t forget all He did for them and rebel against Him. It is also a great reminder of His personal attention to the details of my life.
Very simple but very important. I write a short (or long) note of thanks to God for the main thing I am thankful for that day. I take the time to appreciate what He is doing in my life, the ways He is providing for me, the amazing works He is doing around me. Every day I find that I have so many things to be thankful for. Thankfulness is a very important part of the Christian life! If nothing comes to mind, just start thanking Him for the obvious things and you will think of ten other things!
So that’s it! The main thing before you start is to tailor this to your life, your personality, and your needs. Use creativity and keep it intimate. Change it around as needed to keep it fresh. To see an inspiriting testimony of my own burning heart contract journey, go to: http://cbn.com/family/youth/ferwerda_lifechanged.asp