A New Year’s Suggestion

As New Year’s approaches, and many set their sights on some kind of renewal or resolve, I’d like to offer some advice. It’s not mine, but it is a beautiful suggestion that I believe many of us could use.Including me.

The resolution: to pray for five minutes a day five days a week. It might sound hard, or might sound too simple, but it’s a start for sure. Choose one, or mix and match. However you go about it, there is no greater place to begin anew than with God.

1. write your prayers in a journal. This helps you keep track of your prayers and see progress (or areas where you might be stuck).

2. meditative prayer. which means that you memorize a prayer, like the Lord’s prayer, or the 23rd Psalm, or the prayer of St. Francis.  Then, having memorized it, you say it slowly, offering a phrase (aloud or silently) with each exhaling breath.

3. contemplative prayer. which means, practically, sitting silently and envisioning the reality that you are wrapped in the arms of a loving God.  You don’t need to say anything, and when your mind wanders (it will) you simply return to pondering God’s loving presence.  Another way of doing this is to repeat a word that God might give you.  I’ll sometimes pray this way:  ”I receive your wisdom Lord – thank you” or instead of wisdom, maybe ‘peace’, ‘patience’, ‘courage’ or whatever is needed for the day.

4. identity prayers . read through specific bible verses that declare your identity in Christ, thanking God in prayer for each truth as you read them.

5. talk to God. if you’re not a journal keeper, then just talk with God.  If you need some structure to the conversation, try categories:  a) Give thanks for a blessing you’ve experience (whether a sunrise, or good conversation, or….)  b) confess where you’ve failed or are struggling, and thank God for his forgiveness  c) request from God things that are own your heart, as you express your need for provision, direction, healing  d) pray for others, asking God to respond to situations in your sphere of concern.

Maybe New Year’s resolutions aren’t your thing. That’s fine. I still believe we could all greatly benefit from five minutes with God.

It’s definitely worth trying, right?

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2 thoughts on “A New Year’s Suggestion

  1. Hi Sean,

    I realize this post is nearly a year old and odds are you probably wont see this comment, but I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the suggestions/ideas. I confess, prayer is a weakness for me. I feel so silly talking aloud. I worry that silent prayer isnt enough or isnt good enough. I worry about upseting Carl, in fact most times I pray silently in bed before sleep. I worry about praying in His will. I worry about people or situations Ive forgotten to include in prayer. I worry about how God feels about my prayers, like I am being judged…who knows, maybe I am! I worry about teaching my children to pray because I have such difficulty myself. Then I worry that I am worrying; I can thank Matthew 6:27 and 6:34 for that one! In other words, the simple act of prayer is quite anxiety producing for me, resulting in avoidance at times. Sad to admit, but like your most recent post encourages (Sept 2011) I’ll claim it. Anywho, thank you.

    • Jolene,

      First, thanks for commenting. It’s nice to know there is someone out there in void who reads this stuff. Second, I would really encourage you to put aside your anxiety. You’re not sure what to pray? Believe it or not, that’s the best place to start. Romans 8:26 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” While I certainly think we should take prayer seriously, we should also take comfort in knowing that when we don’t have the words, the Spirit does. Admitting any issue out loud is always the first step, and sometimes the hardest. So thanks for claiming it. And I hope, and pray, that God will give you the peace of His presence when you’re talking to Him.

      Sean

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