The Importance of Prayer Being a Scheduled Part of My Day
I come from a long line of women who find it difficult to sit down and relax. In fact when I sit down, you can bet that I just might be asleep within ten minutes. There is always something that needs to be done around the house. Whether it’s the dishes, laundry, cleaning out closets, I find it difficult to just do ‘nothing’ when there is work to be done. I’ve tried yoga as a way to help me just ‘chill’ but yoga is pure TORTURE to me….can anyone really stay in one spot for that long and not think about any thing else…seriously?
However, I have often found myself with a heart that felt overwhelmed in my ‘good’ desires to do things. There are more needs around me than I can meet. And there are hundreds of people in my life who are in need of someone praying for them.
My use of a prayer journal began in high school when I cried out to God with an overwhelmed heart. I was faithful to fit prayer into my busy life. I would pray for people who would pop into my mind or whom I would come into contact with throughout the day. I would pray for the concerns of that day when problems arose. However, I had a deep desire to pray more specifically and more consistently for those God had place in my life. . .even BEFORE problems arose.
However, I also had a deep desire to STOP and pray. Some of you may know the story found in Luke 10:38-42. There is no question that I am a Martha type and not a Mary type. I find it much easier to DO FOR Jesus than to SIT WITH Jesus.
Over the years I have realized that when I am sitting with Jesus, feeding my soul through prayer and Bible study, I am not losing time in my day. Instead I am strengthening my purpose and purifying my motives. Through prayer I am able to cast my burdens on Jesus, and focus my mind on the needs of those around me.
Though I have used a prayer journal since high school (surely that wasn’t almost two decades ago!), I did not understand its true power in my life until I became a wife and mother. I can honestly say that I am not sure that Joe and I would have made it to our ten-year anniversary if I hadn’t been faithful in prayer. And Lord knows I would not have made it through the infant and toddler stages of my kids if I had not been faithful to stop and pray. (amazing how praying for friends and family members struggling with infertility, help you to realize that sleepless nights and potty training are truly blessings in disguise!)
I promised I would give you another peek into my journal. This time I’ll share with you how I pray for myself and my husband. Over the past couple of years, I have focused much of my prayer attention on my hubby. It all began when I humbled myself one night in my tiny seminary townhouse apartment and went and knocked on my neighbor’s door to ask her for help. I was struggling in my role as a wife. I was having thoughts that I had never had before and I was tired of dealing with those struggles all alone. I humbly asked my friend Jill to be a prayer partner for me in my marriage.
That night began a journey for me. I began reading books and developing a more detailed and intentional way of praying for my marriage. I had read most of those books before that time. I had listened to hundreds of sermons on how to be the wife I needed to be. However, it wasn’t until I truly started intentionally praying for my marriage, that I began to feel God change my heart (and yes, Joe began to change too!).
If you have ever studied the book of Ephesians, maybe you have noticed the topics of chapters five and six. In the last verses of Chapter 5 of Ephesians, Paul gives instructions about marriage. Chapter 6 begins with instructions to kids and parents. And then Paul tells us….you are fighting a battle! And isn’t it true that most of life’s toughest spiritual battles are fought within the walls of our own homes? Here’s what the author of Ephesians, Paul, tells us to do to fight the battles that are waged around us….
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Satan is on the attack in families. I felt it in my own home just yesterday. What did I do? Well after hours of having a ‘boiling’ head and heart, I realized that I had not truly turned to the Lord for help. I mean it was mostly Joe’s fault, right? It was him that needed to change more than me! But amidst those thoughts I decided to grab my journal and pray. Little did I know at the same time my sweet hubby was praying too (while he was at work). What was the result? That evening he returned home with a $5 dollar foot long and a gallon of McAlister’s tea and an ‘I’m sorry!’ My heart had changed. His heart had changed. With the weapons that God has given us, we were able to fight off the attack of Satan on our marriage. Now if a yummy foot long and a gallon of sweet tea aren’t a reason to pray I don’t know what is!
So friends…Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. If I might add….ESPECIALLY those living in your own home! (who knows you might get out of cooking dinner!)
Here’s a few more journal pics for you to enjoy…
I try to make it a habit to get up on Sunday mornings and begin the day praying for myself. Otherwise sometimes I forget to pray for myself! I find it helpful for me to take a few minutes to pray before the ‘rush’ that can come on Sunday mornings trying to get everyone ready for church (I know we are not the only family that has had fights in the car driving to church!!!) 🙂
I am being vulnerable here….notice the list at the bottom with the heading ‘my weakness.’ Someone gave me the idea of putting these in writing along with a list of the strengths of my husband (in the next picture). When I am struggling in my role as a wife, I often turn to those pages and pray for God’s help in my weaknesses and praise God for my husband’s strengths. I can’t tell you how many times my attitude changed because I had these lists handy! Bless my sweet hubby for putting up with my weaknesses and loving me anyway!
Also, notice that I have based most of my prayers on Scriptures. There is power in the Word of God. Even if the situation does not change, my thoughts and attitudes always change when I turn to the Bible to help me in handling struggles.
You may notice the fine print in the middle of the page…That is a list of the things about Joe that tend to drive me crazy. These are the things that consistently cause me to get frustrated with him. When I sat down and wrote them out there were six things. However, notice in the larger print…there are 16 things that amaze me about my hubby. These are the things that attracted me to him eleven years ago when we first met. Though I spend a little time praying for his weaknesses and asking God to strengthen him in those areas, the majority of my prayer time is spent praising God for his strengths and asking God to give me opportunities to affirm him in those areas (because men need lots of affirmation and quite frankly I STINK at affirming).
Together, my friend Jill and I read through The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I had read it a couple of times before and found the prayers challenging. However, I just couldn’t seem to find time to pray for everything that I felt like I needed to pray for my hubby.
That’s when God gave me the idea of dividing the prayers up into 4 days. I assigned different categories to a different Tuesday of the month…and ever since I have not been as overwhelmed. Finally I am praying all the things I want to pray for my hubby just not all at the same time.
The last picture is what I pray for my sweet husband on the first Tuesday of every month. There is another page that I use on the second Tuesday, another on the third, and yet another on the fourth. Again there are lots of Scriptures. I spent many, many months putting this together. I am currently working on making these prayer guides for each of my kids and hope to have them done by the end of the year!
I know that not everyone needs something like this….but since I struggle to sit still, I find it very rewarding to take a few minutes each Tuesday to devote to praying for my husband.