For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.
Spend Time in Prayer Daily
There are at least 8 different accounts of Jesus praying in the Gospels and he teaches on the subject numerous times, as well. If prayer was vital to the Lord Jesus Christ, how much more should it be a part of our lives?! R. A. Torrey says, “Evidently prayer took much of the time and strength of Jesus, and a man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer, cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Prayer shows our dependence upon the Lord and our lack of a prayer life indicates self-sufficiency and ultimately, pride. We don’t pray because we don’t think we need God. As Jim Cymbala aptly puts it, “…God can do more in one day than we can accomplish in ten years of human effort… I am still learning that far more is accomplished by persevering in prayer than in taking charge of things myself.”
What about you? Do you regularly set aside time to communicated with God through prayer? According to John Piper, “There is a direct correlation between not knowing Jesus well and not asking much from Him. A failure in our prayer life is generally a failure to know Jesus.”
PRAYER INCREASES YOUR FAITH
Personally, consistent prayer is an area in which I need to grow in. A couple years ago, though, I began a prayer journal that has been a huge encouragement to my faith and prayer life. Below is an example of how I set it up, taken directly from my prayer journal:
Michelle- Needs apartment 7/1/14 Found one!
Sherry-Lynn- Protection in Surgery 7/28/14 It went well!
Doug- Diabetes diagnosis, job in jeopardy 7/6/14 He’s much better!
In all of the examples above, the answers to prayer came rather quickly. Sometimes it takes months or years. Sometimes we never see or hear of the result of our petitions. But often times God does allow us to see His answer and this increases our faith and encourages us to persevere in our supplication. After the first 3 months of starting my prayer journal I counted 30 answers to prayer! If that doesn’t motivate you to pray more, I’m not sure what will.
PRAYER HAS PHYSICAL BENEFITS
A study done by Dr. Andrew Newberg showed that prayer increased activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is associated with thoughtfulness and attention span. Research shows that those who spend regular time in prayer have less stress, anxiety, and depression. Other studies show that prayer leads to longer life spans and protects against cognitive decline associated with normal aging. In 1996 a survey was done on 269 family physicians that revealed 99% of them believed religious practices are helpful in medical treatment. Over half of these doctors admitted to incorporating practices such as prayer into their patients’ treatments.
HOW TO GET STARTED
I already mentioned using a prayer journal above. I cannot stress enough how helpful this has been to my own prayer life. Purchase a regular journal (or even a composition notebook) and set it up the way I did above. You don’t have to follow what I did, but it is important to have the date of when you began praying and when God answered. Trust me, it’ll encourage you.
Another thing you could do is designate one day a week to focus on one category of people. I’ve laid out an example below, but feel free to change up the category names and/or days of the week you pray for a particular category:
Monday– Pray for the persecuted Church
Tuesday– Pray for unsaved individuals you know
Wednesday– Pray for specific missionaries & ministries
Thursday– Pray for those who Are sick/injured
Friday– Pray for family members
Saturday– Pray for the Government
Sunday– Pray for your Church family
ACTS model of prayer:
Adoration– Take time to proclaim who God is and to praise Him. Don’t ask Him for anything at this point, just keep the focus on His attributes. Here are a few to get you started: God is Everywhere, All-knowing, All-powerful, Holy, Merciful, Gracious, Loving, Good, Just, Faithful… (Psalm 150)
Confession– Ask God to forgive you for the sins you have committed today. Ask Him to help you see the sin the way He does and to forsake it completely. (1 John 1:9)
Thanksgiving– Take this time to thank God for His abundant blessings. Thank Him for forgiving you, for all His spiritual blessings, and every material blessing He has bestowed upon you. Meditate upon His marvelous works and for how He has answered prayer in the past. Again, don’t ask Him for anything, yet, just spend time thanking Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Supplication– As you come before God to present your requests, use Scripture to base your requests off of. Ask God to give you the desires of His heart- to answer according to His will. (Philippians 4:6)
The Lord’s Prayer:
Finally, Jesus Himself left us a model of how to pray. A lot of people have interpreted it to mean we are to pray those exact words that He gave us, but I think He was just showing us an example of how to pray. I’ve taken His model and expounded upon it below:
“Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” Matthew 6:9-13
[V. 9] Hallow God’s Name
Tell God you love Him for who He is. (Psalm 150)
[Just, Loving, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Sovereign, Holy, Merciful, Immutable, Creator, Savior, Worthy, Faithful, Good, Gracious, Friend]
Pick one to study & meditate on before proceeding.
Thank God for all He’s done. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Isaiah 25:1)
Thank Him for 3 things (material or spiritual) before proceeding.
[V. 10a] Look Forward to and Work for God’s Coming Kingdom
Pray for those who are not saved. (Acts 26:18)
Pray for more laborers. (Luke 10:2)
Pray that new believers will get discipled. (2 Timothy 2:2)
Pray that Jesus will come quickly. (Revelation 22:20)
[V. 10b] Submit to God’s will
Pray that you will be sensitive to know His will.
Pray that He will help you be willing and then obedient to His will.
Pray that you will make the right decisions in & throughout your life for…
Your husband & children (Ephesians 6:7)
The church you’re apart of (John 13:34,35)
The ministries you’re involved with (1 Peter 4:10)
Your home (Joshua 24:15)
Your time (Ephesians 5:16)
Your vocation (1 Corinthians 10:31)
[V. 11] Ask for your daily needs
Ask first for Spiritual help throughout the day. (1 Cor. 9:27)
Wisdom (Proverbs 2:6)
Self-denial (Luke 9:23)
Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18)
Reliance upon God (2 Corinthians 1:9b)
Focus (Colossians 3:2)
Ask God for help to think right. (Philippians 4:8)
Ask God for help to love others as you ought. (1 John 4:11)
Ask God for help to use money correctly. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
[V. 12] Confess your sins (those you’ve committed today) to God
Ask God to help you feel like He does about the sin.
Ask God to help you forsake the sin.
Ask God to help you forgive and love those who have wronged you.
[V. 13] Pray for protection from temptation
Look for God’s grace to not yield to the devil. (1 Peter 5:10)
Believe God’s promise. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Ask God to show you a verse to meditate upon all day long.
Adhesive Prayer- Pray for someone you know that God has put on your heart now.