WHEN WE PRAY…
|I was recently invited to speak at a women’s ministry event over praying for our children. I began my preparation thinking that I would have something to offer the listeners. However, by the end, I felt much more confident that God used my preparation to change me. My hope is that what I shared with them can be an encouragement to someone else as well. Here is part three of a five part series. You can read part one here and part two here.|
When Should We Pray?
1)Pray In All Occasions
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
One way to pray all the time, or all occasions, is to plan prayer times to natural times and occasions that happen every day in your life. We don’t have to think of this like seasons. We don’t just pray during Christmas season or back to school season. But more of our all the time seasons.
And if we pray on all occasions instead of praying occasionally, life will likely go a whole lot better.
When we wake up, when we eat, in the car, when we get home, bath time, bedtime…These are our every day occasions.
And for me, I almost think of it as a schedule in my head. We schedule things that are important to us. If prayer doesn’t naturally happen for you, schedule it and make it happen.
I know I need to work out. There’s a lot of research that says it is good for me. I feel better when I do it. But if I don’t schedule it, if I don’t make a plan and make a sacrifice, it doesn’t happen.
I do the same thing with prayer.
I like to pray when I wake up…something simple like “Lord be with me today.” And because I often have anxious thoughts, I try to pray and submit that anxiety to the Lord before putting my feet on the floor. You can pray about anything anytime. I just want to start my day right, and I like the thought of asking Him to be with me before I get in the shuffle of the day.
After work outs, I tend to pray for the kids and Cody. Sometimes it’s something specific and sometimes it’s generalized like the things we talked about in the earlier post of this series.
We pray before breakfast.
We pray for Charlotte and Walker every day in drop off line.
We pray at lunch and dinner.
We pray right before bedtime.
We pray with the kids when they get into bed.
Do we miss some of these opportunities some days? Absolutely. But here’s what I’m learning…
When we have regular habits of prayer, the spontaneous prayer becomes more regular.
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
2) PRAY IN TIMES OF TROUBLE AND IN TIMES OF PRAISE
“Is anyone in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
One way I practice this is to pray whenever I feel a strong emotion, great need, or have a great reason to be thankful. Emotions are a measure for me of when I should pray.
And when applying this to my kids, a natural place for me to do this are moments when my kids need me the most, because I know in that moment I need God even more.
This happens a lot at bedtime. Why? Because my kids need me more at bedtime. And, they drive me crazy. Bedtime tends to be when they express lots of emotions and oftentimes I’m not at a place where I have anything left to give. But a lot of the specific prayers I shared earlier that I pray over each of my children have come from THOSE moments. When I want to pull my hair out, but instead I think “God they need you and I need you. Help me know what they need most in this moment.”
When I’m anxious wondering if I’m doing anything right. That’s a strong feeling. It’s a great time to turn that anxiety to Jesus by praying. When something amazing happens, it’s a strong feeling. It’s a great time to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. I’ve learned to use my emotions for good by praying in times of trouble and times of praise.
3) PRAY CONTINUALLY
1 Thessalonians 5:17
I’ve already shared about some routine we can create when we pray, but another way to pray continually is by making prayer a first response instead of a last resort.
It reminds me of the time Charlotte lost a ring that was important to her. It was probably worth a quarter in value but to her it was important. Cody said, “Let’s stop and pray about it.”
We want our kids to see when we have a concern or a worry, the first thing we do is talk to Jesus.
I need to remember this in my own life. When I have a concern, do I take my concern to a friend, a blog post, or a self-help book? None of these things are bad things. But who do I turn to first? Where I turn first can be a good indication of where I have placed my trust.
The ring turned up later and while I don’t think God was super concerned about the ring, I am thankful He used that ring to show her that God hears her and cares for her.
When our kids are scared we say, “What should we do?” They will say, “We should pray.” While they don’t know the full weight of how prayer can shape them, they are learning that prayer is the opportunity to talk with God. A God who knows them, loves them, and cares for them.
So one way we pray continually is when a thought crosses our mind, we stop and share that thought with God.
First response. Not last resort.