Prayer has always felt like a confusing action to me. I get why we pray, but I never really know or feel like I’m doing it right. How long do I pray for? Why do my prayers feel so self-centered and repetitive? I know that each word I say is important to God, but I’ve always felt like there was a better way.
I usually feel like I’m talking with God the best when I journal down my prayers. It helps me feel a little more focused. Otherwise, I get distracted in the thoughts of my own world and mind and take a 20 minute detour from what I was trying to do: talk with Jesus.
But recently I began reading a book called Praying the Bible. A friend of mine was moving away from Nashville, but gave me the book to give back to our friend she borrowed it from. Needless to say I began reading it and learned so much from this short book.
Donald Whitney writes about how often our prayers are self-focused and repetitive, but a way to shift the focus of your prayers is to pray through a chapter in Psalm each day. Since there’s 150 chapters in Psalms, you start with the number of the date (for example, June 8th would be chapter 8) and then add on 30 to that (38, 68, 98, 128). You skim the 5 psalms and choose one to pray through that day.
Today on June 7, I have chosen to pray through Psalm 127. I’ll walk you through how this works.
The first verse in Psalm 127 is:
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
And then this is my prayer: Lord, thank you for giving me a solid foundation that only You can provide. Thank you for always opening Your arms to me even when I stray from home. I praise You for the roof over my head. Thank You for giving me a place where I feel safe. Help us to remember that this world is not our home and to not make idols out of our worldly possessions. I thank You for great mentors, family, and friends that have helped build me up and taught me about Your house and who You are. When I try to build up my own kingdom, I fail. Every time. I’m so sorry that I turn my back on You in hopes to find fulfillment in this world. I want to train my mind to stay focused on You. Please watch over my city. Please watch over my people. Let there be revival in Nashville and allow me to use the gifts You’ve given me to play a role in that to glorify You. Thank You for those that are working to unite our country for Your sake and glory. I also pray for my city and for the people that lost their homes from the tornadoes in March. Give them continuing peace as they begin to rebuild a foundation for their home. Thank You for all the people in Nashville that worked together to help those that were affected by the tornadoes. I am grateful that Your people want to serve their neighbors, and I hope they know that they’ve shown glimpses of You by doing just that.
Then, verse two:
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.
This verse isn’t as clear to me as the first, but if you come across a verse that isn’t as clear it’s okay to skip or just pray whatever comes to mind from this verse. Here’s what came to mind for me: Lord, my body is a temple and sometimes I do not treat it as such. I know I need to prioritize more time resting. I know I need to prioritize having a true Sabbath day. I have had trouble sleeping lately. Will you help me rest? Will you help me to not be anxious about tomorrow, for all I need to focus on is today?
And it just carries on! Then, your prayers never look quite the same. Sure, you may pray for similar things each day, but using the Bible as our guide brings us closer to His Word and gives us a starting point for our prayers.
If I had chosen Psalm 97, this is what my prayer would’ve looked like:
Verse 1: The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
Lord, I fail to remember that YOU alone reign. This past week has been really heavy with so much divisiveness and heartbreak in our world, and I’m grateful to know I have a Heavenly Father that cares for me and knows my heart and hears my cries. I’m so grateful for the way my church, Cross Point, has handled the past 3 months. Thank You for guiding their leadership and giving them words of encouragement to speak to Your people. I’m so grateful for my friends over the past month. Thank You for giving me friends that remind me to be glad in the Earth You have created. There is so much to celebrate, and I’m so overjoyed with the thought that You created me and put me here for a reason. Lord, I pray for people all over the world that have been affected by COVID-19. In this hard season, may we remember to rejoice all over the world for who You are in every season.
I would love to hear your thoughts on prayer and how it affects your every day life. Any tips and tricks you have for a more effective and fulfilling prayer life? Comment below! I would love to challenge you to take 7 minutes today, pray through a chapter for those 7 minutes and see how far you get. And then come back to me and tell me how it goes!