How I Learned To Pray Without Ceasing
Usually I can write my Instagram captions fairly quickly. I tend to do it on my phone right after my morning quiet time sessions so the Holy Spirit is already working through my heart and mind and (I believe) leads me to write what I do. Now that I’ve started creating illustrations as well, sometimes posts are “delayed” i.e. I’ll post a few days after I’ve drawn the illustration and had the download. I don’t think one way is better than the other (posting immediately or days later), just wanting to share a bit about my process for anyone who is curious. :)
All this to say that writing this blog post about prayer is a bit intimidating. I started writing on my laptop, and edited and re-edited, because I want to do this post justice. God has radically transformed my prayer life in the past few months and I’d love to share some of the things he’s taught me with you. It’s not a perfect method or the only method by any means but one that has changed my life.
First off, I think we should pray just to love on and spend time with our God Almighty. Our God is so good! Even a few minutes in his presence is so soul restoring. No matter what state we’re in, whether we’re happy or depressed, he always loves to hear from us, fight for us and so much more (1 Chronicles 16:11, Jeremiah 29:12-13, Psalm 145:18). Praying everyday might sound simple but I didn’t used to do it and I know many Christians who don’t do it.
Sometimes we don’t because things are good and we don’t feel the “need” to pray (or we forget!). Sometimes we don’t want to “bother” God. Sometimes we aren’t ready to confront an issue and are scared of what God might reveal to us. But we don’t need to be afraid! Our God is so gentle and loving, and absolutely knows us better than we know ourselves. He will always tell us exactly what we need to know and in the exact timing and style.
It can be tempting but don’t absorb the stress, confusion and worries in life on your own. Give it all to God and let him love on you and fight your battles.
My current season
I’m so thankful God loves me despite my flaws because I have been a stubborn child. Like most people (probably), my prayer life has been strongest during seasons of desperation. When I graduated from university, I sought God intensely because I realized I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Starfield’s “I Will Go” song became my anthem that season. “I will go, Lord, send me. Take everything I am, I’m clay within your hands,” I’d sing. A few years later, I had no idea how to process or heal from an emotionally abusive relationship and God comforted me gently through many methods including reading and re-reading the Psalms (see Psalm 109 and 139 for examples). But these challenges were the exception rather than the norm of my past decade. My twenties were generally full of excitement, adventure and undeserved favour.
This past season seemed to be the peak of undeserved favour. I was so sure I was walking in God’s plan for my life that … I didn’t realize some of his blessings had become idols. It was never intentional but looking back they clearly were in terms of where I was finding my identity and how much time I was spending on those blessings rather than with God. Then something unexpected happened and I broke. I cried out to God confused and angry. Didn’t he tell me I was walking on the right path? How could things have turned out so tragically? God knew my worst fear, I’d confessed it and prayed over it before … how could he have allowed it to actually come true?
Typing this now, I’m not even sure how I got from then to now. I think it’s prayer in various different ways. When I had many emotions but no words, the Holy Spirit interceded for me. When I was too angry to pray, my family and community covered me. Eventually I knew in my heart that God was with me and I just RAN to him.
I ran to God 24/7.
If I wasn’t praying (or pray/crying), I was reading the bible. If I wasn’t reading the bible, I was reading a Christian book (by either Joyce Meyere, Lisa Bevere, John Bevere or Mike Bickle). Rend Collective songs and Joyce Meyer podcasts were constantly playing in my ear. All of God’s truth (including that we are to follow the Holy Spirit rather than reason things in our mind), I wanted it and I wanted it to sink in deep.
My friends, it did.
At this point God has done a huge amount of healing in my heart. And through this whole process my main conclusion is that God is SO good. It’s sunk in that literally the God of the Universe created me from scratch, loves every part of me and wants to be in relationship with me. He wants to chat as I enjoy life, as I enjoy the blessings he’s planned for me. He gives me answers in his perfect way, never completely but always the exact daily bread I need. How undeserving am I of such wondrous love! It’s overflowing and I’ve gone from being scared to talk about my faith to sharing it every chance I get … as well as starting this blog and related Instagram. Whatever your situation is, he loves and wants to do the same for you.
A day in the life
Although I’ve been a Christian my whole life, I never really prayed everyday. It was so easy for my priorities to get shifted and for God to be pushed aside in favour of things I saw in front of me (even if it was just Netflix and social media). Now I try and pray throughout the day to ensure that Jesus remains the centre of my life. That might sound a bit lofty but it’s really a benefit for me … praying and chatting with God brings so much peace and joy.
6AM: Hi God! (+ journalling printable)
I like to start each morning with a “Hi God!” while still snuggled up under the covers (though lately that’s been a morning “God, I really need you!”). Then I get up and make a cup of coffee before settling at my desk with my Bible In One Year app and journal. Ideally, I’d be able to spend a solid hour or two soaking, worshipping, studying, praying, and/or journalling (I love, love, love long mornings) which might sound like a lot of time but it’s amazing how time flies by. I think my prayer times used to be short because they were a one-way street of me asking God for things and then going about my day. That’s still a part of my prayer times but there’s a lot more time spent waiting on him and seeing if he has anything he wants to say. That’s the special part.
How I spend my quiet time varies but I journal probably 95% of the time and this has been so useful. I’ve started to divide a journal page down the middle and create two categories at the top: “Prayers” and “Downloads.” For the Prayers column, sometimes there are things on my heart to pray for, other times I soak and see if God brings anything to my mind. And whenever I sense that God is telling me something, I write it down in the Downloads column.
Click here to download printables (lined and unlined).
At first I was a bit uncomfortable with starting a Downloads column as I wondered if I could be sure I was hearing God’s voice and not my own. But I sensed God was encouraging me to just write down the downloads as they came as I could always go back and pray over them later. At the very least, I knew it would be great to have a structured way to pray and then wait before the Lord. I’m still learning about how God works through downloads (including words, verses, pictures, visions, reminding me of worship song lyrics etc.) but so far they have been otherworldly in the sense that I know how I usually think and process and the downloads are different.
“I love that you love to spend time with me.”
“I am with you, child. I am in this.”
“Don’t worry. You can’t speed things up by worrying.”
“You are more precious than rubies.” (Proverbs 3:15; Proverbs 31:10)
“Are you afraid of asking for what you want this morning?” (I was.)
(Seeing sand grains rising) “When you pray, things start to move.”
(Song) “This is my song of praise to you. For who you are and all that you do. From the moment my life began, you have been faithful. Faithful father.”
If I’m thinking on my own, I generally do it in a slow, methodological manner finding a point A and trying to connect it to other points. With downloads, it’s usually something I’ve never thought of before and comes quickly … not necessarily right after I pray, sometimes I soak for awhile, but when it comes it comes fast. Sometimes he gives me words about my future or specific situations but most of the time they’re encouragements or checks for me … things I really needed to hear at that moment.
10AM, 12PM, 3PM: Checking in
These aren’t set times but whenever I have a break (e.g. for the bathroom, on a commute, at the gym) I check in with God. Sometimes it’s to pray for something specific, sometimes it’s to praise him, sometimes it’s to meditate on worship song lyrics. But it’s always with the tone of letting God know that I really love and need him. I need him in my life so much.
10PM: Bless your spirit before bed
I’m a morning person so my energy levels before bed are … lower than I’d like them to be (haha tried to put a positive spin on that). Usually I don’t pray a lot before bed but I like to say Bethel’s Nothing Hidden Ministries’ Spirit Blessing which asks the Holy Spirit to bring rest and revelation through the night because he gives to his beloved as they sleep. Such a beautiful thought and thing to ask for.
So this post was a bit about my prayer journey and what my prayer life looks like at the moment.
Can you relate to any of the above? Does he have a totally different way of speaking to you? If you have a moment, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Our God is so amazing and creative … it’s always wonderful to see how he’s working in the lives of fellow brothers and sisters.
I love you, Jesus. Thank you for the gift of prayer. I love being able to speak with you and that you choose to speak with me and all of your children. Please increase our hunger for you and mature our spirits so we can glorify you everywhere we go and in all that we do.
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! (1 Chronicles 16:11)
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)