The other day when I was at work, one of my co-workers made a comment about me being 'religious'. He made sure to clarify immediately that he wasn't making fun of me -- in fact, he went on, "I have an aunt who is extremely religious." He then proceeded to tell me that she prays "all the time -- every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. Oh yeah, (include eye-rolling here) everytime we're together on those holidays, we give thanks." He seemed to think that was an excessive amount of praying.
Well, you should've seen his face when I told him that I pray every single day.
"You pray every day?!" he shockingly asked, picking his chin up from the floor.
"Yup." I said.
"Do your prayers ever get answered?" he wanted to know.
"Oh yes. Not always in the way that I want them to -- but yes, they get answered."
He seemed to chew on this for a bit, before the subject changed and then as he left my desk area he said a casual "Bye...pray for me."
"I will," I promised him.
Now I'm assuming that parting remark was supposed to be slightly sarcastic -- but I took it as a serious request. And one day in the near future, I look forward to telling him that I followed through with my promise. And I wonder how God will lead in that conversation.
Now to back-pedal a bit and get to the second part of this post...I need to clarify that my prayer life isn't what it might sound like it is. I didn't lie to him -- I certainly do pray on a daily basis. But not nearly at the level at which I have always wanted to. I give thanks before my meals, I say bedtime prayers with my daughters every night, and throughout the day I lift up details to the Lord here and there.
But I don't have the deep spiritual walk with the Lord that I want. And I am determined that that's going to change. Big-time. I have been inspired by my cousin/sister-in-law to start a prayer journal. To take certain people in my life and pray for them on a consistent, regular basis. And after weeks and weeks of toying with the idea...it finally became a reality just yesterday!
I bought a nice black spiral book and started breaking it down as to who I wanted to pray for and how often. I decided to start simple so as not to overwhelm myself while trying to start up a new habit. Les and the girls will of course get prayed for every single day. Then one day a week I will pray for a sibling and his/her family (this includes Les' siblings too) or one set of parents. Each day of the week I will also pray for one of my closest friends and her family and each day will also include another friend/acquaintance and his or her family. I also want to add at least a few praise & thankfulness items in each day's prayer as well.
In order for me not to start off with robotic-like prayers, I am writing specific things beside each name that I want to pray for. I want the prayer for each individual to be special and meaningful, not just a blanket prayer. For example, even for my girls my prayers were different...yesterday for Joelle I focused on praying for her and her choices of friends. And for Malia, I focused on her difficult adjustment to kindergarten. And for Les I prayed for him in his job. For my close girlfriend that I prayed for yesterday, I chose to hone in on her struggle with depression. And my items of praise & thankfulness for the day yesterday were that I had a chance to share even a little bit of my faith with my co-worker, for my flexible job and for my warm and dry house.
The other thing that I did yesterday -- which will play a key factor in getting this improved prayer life off the ground -- is figure out a time of day that will be the most ideal for this time of prayer. Mornings aren't my thing...I have a hard enough time dragging myself out of bed with enough time to shower before having to get the kids up for school. Nevermind giving myself enough time for prayer (although I have always wanted to be able to start my day off with good quality time with God...perhaps that will still come one day). And right before bed when I'm exhausted and just want to go to sleep...well, you can see the danger in that idea. And during the day with all sorts of interruptions from kids and other responsibilities...that's not happening either.
So, I figured it out. After the kids are in bed...after the kitchen is tidied...after the lunches are made for tomorrow...and BEFORE I plunk myself down on the couch to veg in front of the TV. That is going to be my special time with the Lord. When I tried this out last night, it just made sense. The pressures of the day are behind me and all that's left is my relaxing time. So there are no distractions and nothing waiting for me to accomplish yet before the end of the day. The house is quiet and I am ready. So I sat at the dining room table -- no screen of any kind in front of me to fight for my attention -- and I lifted my requests up to God.
And it felt so good.
I really do look forward to spending this time every evening in prayer. I look forward to an improved relationship with our Creator and I look forward to lifting up my loved ones in prayer. I look forward to being able to say "Yes, I will pray for you about that" and actually follow through with it. And I especially look forward to watching my prayers unfold and to see for myself how my prayers are affecting those around me. It's going to be an exciting journey as I witness the true power of prayer.