Praying for Busy Professionals - 5 Tips to a Better Prayer Life
One of the frustrations I had when I was working in the marketplace was the disconnect of my prayer life. I knew I should be praying more and I certainly had a thousand things to pray for, but trying to get a handle on the "HOW" seemed allusive to me. Through a ton of trail and figuring out what I would follow-through on and trying things that just did not stick, I found a few tips that managed to help my prayer life significantly while in the marketplace. Here are my top 5 suggestions:
1. Dedicate some time - While we should be praying continually, for me there was a leap from even beginning to pray through a busy day and praying continually. That leap meant that I had to dedicate some time to pray. I tried early morning, lunchtime, before bed and I landed on early morning for no better reason that it is what Jesus did. What time you ask - try 60 minutes before you normally get up. Why 60 minutes? You give hour blocks of your schedule away during the day to meet with all sorts of people - why not give an hour block to meet with God?
2. Create an organized prayer list and routine - This was likely the biggest breakthrough for me in my busy schedule. If I sat down I could list the 50 things I should be praying for, but it was scattered and discombobulated. It occurred to me that I was more organized about my daily work than I was about coming before God for prayer. I do not believe that God requires us to be all organized before we start praying, but I certainly benefit by having some organization to ensure that what I should be praying for gets covered. Here is a quick overview of how I use Google Calendar to organize my prayer life:
I created a new separate calendar in Google under my personal account that is my "Prayer Calendar"
For all 7 days I have broken down my "prayer list" into chunks. Monday's I pray for my entire extended family and friends, Tuesday for my leaders, Friday is for the people who are "lost" that I am aware of, etc. Your days do not have to be all people related - on some of my days I have roles that I have within the community.
Those chunks are put in "all day" repeating appointments with labels called "Family/Friends" on Monday and "Leaders" on Tuesday. This moves that calendar item to the top of the calendar and within the notes of the appointment are the list of people / things I should pray for on that category.
If someone gives me a prayer request, or I say "I'll pray for that" I put it on the prayer calendar. For instance if someone says that they have a doctors appointment at 2pm on Thursday I put that into the prayer calendar and it allows me to pray at the time they are at the appointment.
3. When you pray your list it should be interactive - I can remember starting, in earnest, this practice and looking at my list saying "God I pray for person Y".... and then sitting then after 5 minutes when I got my list done thinking "What did I just do"? When going through the list, pray specifically, pray boldly and pray without doubt. Pray the big prayers for the individuals or situations on your list - like the only way for those prayers to come true would be to have God intervene.
4. Journal your morning prayer / prayer answers - Just praying the lists gets you started, but keeping the life in your prayer time can be accomplished by journaling what you hear and what answers you saw in prayer. Remember you should be hearing from God as much as you are talking to God and because I don't have a photographic memory I need to write what I hear down. I also need to stay motivated by writing down the answers that I have witnessed God show up in. I use an app called DayOne but a paper journal and pen are just as effective.
5. Pray the today things as well as the big things - review your today work calendar with God - One of the missteps that I would make in my prayer life is to leave out the "today" details and instead focus on the long term and huge deals to God. God is as interested in the meeting this afternoon that you are apprehensive about as he is with your family health. When you start praying for specifics for your day - for God to show up and bring answers - you will very quickly start seeing God show up and answer prayer more frequently.