I've got a prayer list. It's actually part of an app on my phone called Faithlife - an app marketed as a Christian version of Facebook. I'm not sure it has succeeded in that, but it has a daily checklist of prayer requests that I have been using for the last 5 months or so. Functionally, it is no different from carrying a small notebook around in my pocket, but for me, it seems to work.
Life has become more complicated in 2016. I took on some new leadership roles within my local ecumenical community and across Kentucky and my work is now more influential and more influenced by national and denominational politics (both good and bad) as well as a much wider community. Most days I go to bed having no clue what I am supposed to be doing or if any of the dozen ideas I've had are the right things to do. I'm constantly trying to find the place where ideas that work meet the values that are faithful to God. I don't always succeed in that.
So I have a prayer list. I list all the people that are in my care - whether they know it or not - and I pray for them each day. The list grows because it is not just prayers offered for those who are sick or in trouble. I pray for those I pastor and those I work alongside. I pray for those that God brings into my life that need to know him. I pray for friends and family. If you are reading this, there's a good chance that you are on my prayer list.
Praying does not calm me down. Some days it feels like a chore. Other days, I'm praying through my list while I'm actually doing other chores. I am not a super prayer warrior and do not have a specific time, place, or ritual to praying through this list. My only criteria is consistency (doing it each day) and surrender. I don't pray for specific outcomes. I just lift those people and situations (mostly people) up to God and leave them in His care.
The affect of this very basic prayer practice has been incredible. Consistent prayer has opened my eyes to the work and power of God in the lives of those around me. I have less answers to offer and more opportunities to see God work out impossible situations. My ideas still matter, but I find that I hold them loosely and allow God to sift and shape them before my eyes.
Does this sound like just "going with the flow"? It does not feel like it. It actually feels like steady work as I battle myself and my schedule each day to be sure I am taking this time to pray. That is my part of the work. I then let God do His part of the work in solving these problems and stirring up new life in those that need to be moved by His Spirit. I apply prayer - the ultimate solvent to the situations in my life, and as I consistently pray, and God consistently works, I begin to see solutions forming before my eyes.
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
All Anger Bible Children Community Culture Disciplines Fear Funerals Generations Grace Hurt Injury Jesus Law Leadership Longevity Ministry Models Perseverance Politics Preaching Reactions Scripture Time Truth Values VBS