A Year of Prayer

I am all about some New Year’s Resolutions. I can make goals and lists until there is no more room on the paper, but this year I decided to do something different. Often in the long lists of ways I can improve myself that year, I lose my purpose. I get caught up in tasks and miss the bigger picture. For 2019, I left behind the resolution list and chose a single word to pursue this year—prayer. While there were many ways I wanted to grow spiritually, professionally, physically, etc., I knew that by centering myself on the pursuit of prayer, I would also grow in those other areas.

What did that look like? I read more books on prayer. I incorporated prayer into the everyday rhythms of life. I realized that even ordinary tasks could be an act of prayer. While I was nervous about this endeavor, I see how God has blessed my intentionality to pursue intimacy with him above all else. Here are a few truths God has taught me in this year of prayer.

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Prayer, Resources

#ThursdayThings: Books about Prayer

At the beginning of 2019, I felt God wanting to teach me more about prayer. I began gathering suggestions for books on prayer, and ended up reading several, but these four were my favorites. I felt like each added something different to my understanding of prayer and challenged me in my practice of prayer. My prayer for you as you read this is that one of these books might encourage you to grow in your prayer life as well.

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Prayer, Spiritual Growth

Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality

I finished Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World, at the end of March and immediately felt convicted over my self-centered view of hospitality. I grew up in the South and always believed hospitality required a new seasonal centerpiece, fresh baked desserts, and at least one-week notice (though two is preferable). You pull out the nice serving bowls (heaven forbid you serve from the kitchen) and eye your throw pillows so that they don’t get squashed by an unsuspecting husband (who really just wants to take a break from all the preparations).

That’s not what Butterfield’s book is about (you can read my review in this blog post). She challenged my self-serving view of hospitality on the very first page, “Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom.”

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3 Reasons to Pray the Attributes of God

I plop down in my favorite chair in our office, and almost immediately the requests start to flow. I’m so busy right now, please help me feel less stressed. Be with Joseph and his big deadline coming up. Help Karis learn how to be obedient. And the list goes on. 

Now these prayer requests aren’t bad. In fact, Scriptures commands us to cry out to the Father day and night (Luke 18:7) and to confidently draw near to God’s throne when we are in need (Hebrews 4:16).

So why, after I “let [my] requests be made known to God” that morning, did I not feel “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7)?

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Without Ceasing

“Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

One of the shortest verses in the Bible, but what seems like an impossible command to follow.

The part of the command that usually causes us to scratch our heads is the description of how we are to pray—without ceasing. We feign ignorance that we don’t know how to do something without ceasing. But I want to suggest that there are plenty of things that we do without ceasing. One of which is social media.

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A Better Intercessor

I started a one-year Bible reading plan this past January and too soon came upon the oft-dreaded book of Leviticus. You know what’s harder than reading the book of Leviticus? Listening to the book of Leviticus (which is how I’m doing my Bible reading plan this year). Not only does it seem repetitive and inapplicable, it can sometimes fill us with questions of how the same God who inspired Leviticus could inspire the book of John.

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Prayer of Progress

I follow social media accounts for several fitness brands and bloggers (as if by merely following them, some of their fitness might rub off on me). A regular part of their mix of posts is the classic before-and-after photo. One white line separates a “sad,” overweight person on the left from a “happy,” slim person on the right. They boast of how you can get these same results if you choose their program or follow their method.

What makes these progress photos so popular? They show that change is possible. They motivate us. They remind us how far we’ve come, how far we can go.

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Let Them Know You’re Praying

I remember the days in middle school where I would run in the door, wait ten minutes for our 30-pound computer to boot up and another five for the infamous AOL dial tone to let me know I was connected to the World Wide Web.

Once on, I would jump straight onto AOL Instant Messenger and see if any of my friends—who I had just seen at school—were online. But what really sent my heart soaring were the glorious words, “You’ve got mail!”

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A Prayer for Daily Grace

I’m a planner. I spent way too much money on my planner notebook, but I use it every day (maybe even every hour). One of my favorite ways to plan is to look at something in the future (for example, a party or a vacation) and to work my way backwards to create small tasks to make sure I have everything ready for that event. I assign certain days for grocery shopping, meal prepping, and decorating or certain days for making an itinerary or packing. I want to make sure that I’m prepared for when that event arrives, because one of my greatest fears is being unprepared.

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A Prayer for Advent

Not many worship services stick out in my mind, but I remember one from my freshman year of college. My church had been reading through the Bible in a year, with the pastor preaching each Sunday on a passage from that week’s reading and telling the story of redemptive history throughout the year.

I remember the Sunday that we made the jump from the Old to New Testament. Our worship pastor reminded us that God had been silent for 400 years between the last prophets of the Old Testament and the angel appearing to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father. Israel, who had been given all the promises and blessings as God’s chosen people, longed for the day that those promises would be fulfilled and God would send his Messiah. It was in the midst of that longing that Jesus was born.

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