All religions have some form of prayer. Some of them are written prayers that are recited each time while others are more conversational. In the Christian faith, many people admit they want or need to pray more, but they haven’t been able to cultivate the discipline to pray. One of the things I have noticed about many other religions is that they have specific times each day set aside for prayer. A few years back while visiting Turkey, almost the entire city came to a standstill at the designated prayer time. Prayers were broadcast through speakers all over the city. People left their stations at work to participate. Though their beliefs did not match mine, I was struck by the commitment to pray. It is certainly something we could learn from.
Prayer is our opportunity to have a conversation with God. To share what is on our heart and mind, as well as to listen to what He is speaking to us. The question I am most often asked is “How can I find ways to pray more?”. Over the years, I have found triggers to be helpful. When certain things happen, it triggers me to pray. All of these did not come at once. These are just things I have started using to help me pray more. So here are some of my “prayer triggers”. Maybe they will be helpful to you. These may give you new ideas on how to pray more often.
When They Ask
As a pastor, people regularly ask me to pray for them. Sometimes it is not even people I know. What I have found is that it is easiest to do it right then. When someone asks for prayer, I try to pray for them right at that moment. I have prayed with people in the aisle of Food Lion, at the entrance of Walgreens, on the sidewalk downtown and at football games. If I am on the phone, I try to pray with them before I hang up. If I wait, it is easy to forget. When I see a social media post asking for prayer, I stop and call that person’s name out as well. If I pray right then, that moment often reinforces my memory to pray for them later. I am not alone in being asked to pray for people. This is an easy way to pray more often.
When Something Happens
When I see an accident or hear an ambulance, I will take a moment to pray for those involved. The flight path of the helicopter for the local hospital goes directly over my house. I hear it often. It reminds me to pray for those involved. I usually do not know the people involved, but occasionally I will find out later that I do. But this trigger motivates me to pray. One of the things I find is that when I start praying because something has happened, it will cause me to pray about other things as well and will usually refocus my mind on what is important.
When You Are Troubled
Have you ever had a time when you were just troubled but did not know why? Something just did not seem quite right? You could not put your finger on it but you knew something was wrong? I find praying during these times is important. That trouble in my spirit prompts me to pray. Sometimes the troubling goes away. Sometimes it brings clarity to the problem. Most times it is just my opportunity to recognize God is in control no matter what is going on.
Prompted by the Spirit
The nudge. You know what I am talking about. I experience this most often when random people come to my mind. There would have been no recent interaction or meeting, they just come across my thinking. I usually take this as a sign to pray for them. I will often send a message to that person letting them know I felt prompted to pray for them. Occasionally there is a specific situation going on that prayer helped. They are almost always appreciative. Other times that prompting is about a situation or a need or my own need to repent. Whenever the Spirit prompts me, I try to pray.
This is something we could learn from other religions. Schedule time to pray. We schedule other important things in our lives. Why not schedule prayer. I have a daily prayer list that I check off each day. Specific things I pray about. I do this in my morning routine with reading, writing and exercising. Put prayer on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be an hour or even a specified amount of time. It is just the practice of doing it regularly that will trigger you to do it more often.
We cannot pray too much. Most of us need to pray more often. Find some triggers that work for you and let them guide you to more conversations with God. It will be life-changing for you and for others.