I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately. My family prays together at mealtimes, we pray with our daughter before bed, and we pray on Sunday morning as a congregation—yet sometimes prayer is just hard. When life spins out of control, when chaos reigns and illnesses ravage bodies and minds, it can be hard to calm our hearts, minds and souls to talk with our loving Parent in heaven. Here are some things to pay attention to in regards to prayer. Whether you find God your constant conversational partner, or someone far too often left off your contact list, may you find time to talk today.
1. Psalm 23: A familiar Psalm to many, Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd), has offered challenge and provided a model of prayer for centuries. There are so many beautifully illustrated versions and adaptations that might speak directly to your current life situation. Take time to use Psalm 23 as a model for prayer or pray an adaption (or write your own) to encounter these words in fresh ways.
2. Read a book on prayer: There are so many wonderful books on prayer to challenge our understanding of prayer, to guide our prayers and to help us learn to listen for God as well as ask for our list of prayer requests. One that was formational for me when we read it as a college test is Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey.
3. Pray for the world: The political climate here in the United States is ever more tense, and there is violence, poverty and impacts of climate change around the world. Spend time learning about the brokenness in our world and bring those concerns to God. Sometimes God uses our prayer time to speak to our role in being God’s change-agent in the world.
4. Pray with children, pray for children: Nearly all, if not all, of us have children in our lives—children who live with us, children in our congregations, children who live in our neighborhoods, children in our extended families. What if we took time to get to know these children and their hopes, dreams and needs? What if we prayed for them and their families and then told the children or prayed with them? Modeling prayer can leave a lasting impact on these children.
5. Pray for unseen and unspoken needs: There is so much brokenness in the lives and hearts of people we see every day. The family sitting in the pew, the woman at the grocery store, the city bus driver. Take a minute to pray for the unseen and unspoken needs in their hearts. The broken marriages, the addictions, the unseen health conditions, the runaway child, the financial struggles, the broken relationships—pray for the things breaking human hearts.
Jennie Wintermote is a full-time mother and part-time librarian for the Western District Conference Resource Library in North Newton, Kansas. She is a member of First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas.