I follow Courtney's blog over at Women Living Well, and she has suggested a few times using symbols as reminders to pray during the day. Most recently she suggested our wedding rings as reminders to pray for our husbands. In the past she has also written how she uses her daily "straightening up" to pray for her family members. As she picks up toys, she prays for her children. As she cleans off the table, she stops at each family member's chair and says a quick prayer for them. These can just be one sentence prayers, but this would really add up throughout the day.
Another suggestion I have heard is either praying every hour on the hour or setting a timer for a different amount of time and praying every time it goes off. I love these ideas because they make prayer a continual part of my day. Prayer should not be something reserved for before meals and before bed, or only when we want God to fix something for us.
I want to take it one step further and try to bring my thought life under control. I think I will be writing a separate blog about thoughts later. But for now, if I wonder to myself, "I wonder what my sister is doing right now?" I will say a quick prayer for her. If I wonder what is in store for Aaron and I at the end of the year, I will stop and pray for God's guidance and protection. If I start stewing over something Aaron has done, I will stop and pray for him and also pray for my attitude.
Prayer is important because it forces us to refocus our priorities - if we do it correctly! We should be praying for God's will to be done, not what we think should be done. God can be glorified even through pain and suffering, so we should be careful not to pray away every sickness and difficult situation. God is completely capable of healing us and removing obstacles, but we should be careful to pray for God's will, not what will be easier or less painful. God uses difficulties to help us grow and to strengthen our faith. He tests us to teach us to rely on Him and not give up when things get hard. This should serve to help us turn away from our selfish desires. It should serve to make us really think about what God's will might be. It should remind us that no matter what happens, good or bad, God will bring out of it something good. Prayer should help us give up control and give God control. Prayer can derail a train of obsessive worrisome thoughts and help us admit that we have control over nothing and need God in everything. The more we pray, the easier it gets to pray continually and the more we will crave that connection with our Father.
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
"…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26).
LISTENING is a huge part of praying that I know I struggle with. Listening takes more patience and discipline. I think women especially struggle to clear their minds to give God room to work. I love to keep my brain busy because I can even feel productive sitting still! I have tried to think nothing before, and it took more discipline than any workout I have ever done. God desires to speak to us, but we rarely give Him room to speak! Praying is not shooting off our list of requests to God and then carrying on with our day. It doesn't have to be a 3 hour ordeal locked in a closet somewhere (although sometimes this is appealing to me) but it should be time we are truly focused on finding God and listening to Him even if we don't like what He has to say.
I made the title of this Little Reminders of Something Earth Shattering because it really blows my mind sometimes that we have direct communication with the Creator of... the UNIVERSE. It blows my mind even more how little we utilize this communication. It saddens me that sometimes we hear what God is saying but we ignore it because what He asks of us will be "too hard". So many people convince themselves that if it is hard or if it involves suffering then it couldn't be from God. God is the perfect parent and He does discipline and test His children and foster environments for them to grow and mature. I say, what a privilege! His Ways are perfect. He will never be too harsh, absent, contradicting, condescending, or impossible to please.
One of my favorite chapters in the bible is Psalm 139. Here are some excerpts:
"O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways...
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence...
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting."
We have a God who knows us completely; better than we know ourselves. Do we ask Him what He thinks of what we are doing? Do we ask Him to show us our "wicked ways" since He ultimately knows what is best for us?
I am in awe and completely grateful to KNOW my God. I do not just believe in Him, I know Him personally and talk to Him regularly - but never enough. And He knows me all too well. I shudder at the fact that God knows the dark corners of my heart that no one else sees and the things I even hide from myself, but He still loves me unconditionally. None of us deserves that, but the least we can do in return is continually seek His will.
So here are some of my reminders:
Wedding Ring - Aaron's work, time with God, thought life, interactions during the day, safety
My purse, our checkbook, Aaron's wallet - that we would be good stewards
dishes, vacuum cleaner, laundry basket - that I would remember that I should do everything like I am doing it for God, and that I would take joy in creating a comfortable home for my husband and I.
Mom's picture and Dad's postcard on fridge - Mom and Dad's safety and relationship with God
TV and computer - that I would spend my time wisely
Our dogs - for our kids one day and for Aaron and I to be intentional about preparing ourselves to raise Godly men and women.