I am so excited to share this series with you! It’s something God placed on my heart last Sunday morning during my quiet time with Him. I was reading back over by prayer journal from earlier in the year and saw all the prayers He has answered for us and those around us, and it was so encouraging to me. I remembered when I started keeping a journal of my prayers not too long ago. I thought about the resources I found and that are working well for me – that also might work well for you. Later on in the morning, I started thinking about those people around me that are prayer warriors – about how good it would be to hear from them about what their prayer life looks like. Bascially just because I wanted to glean some ideas, inspiration, and encouragement for myself! Then, the message that Pastor Mike delivered was all about prayer too! It’s like God had lined all of these things up, and that is so exciting to me when He does that! This week, you will not only be hearing from me, but also from a few select people that I know are rocking their prayer life! We can all read and be encouraged by their stories! I hope that you will be as blessed by their stories as I have been as I compiled them into these posts. I hope you enjoy all of the resources I share with you as well.
Establishing the Habit of Quiet Time & Prayer in my Own Life:
Before I begin with the actual components of my prayer journal, I feel like I should share with you what my prayer life looks like and how it’s grown and changed. It hasn’t always been all that, actually. I used to pray, only when I thought about it, which wasn’t often. And I definitely was not intentional about it. I have always had lots of faith and belief that God does and will do amazing things, I would let him do his thing – whatever He wanted, and didn’t really feel the need to discuss it much, other than a quick prayer here and there. I also wasn’t reading my Bible on a regular basis either. I had all the good excuses too. I’m a stay at home mom. There is no “quiet time”. My kids won’t let me. I think I had this ideal picture of what my quiet time with God should look like, and I didn’t know how to make it work so I just didn’t. Our communication was lacking.
I begin to feel more and more conviction for not pursing God in the way that I should, and I decided I needed to make a change. So in October of 2015, I got on Amazon and ordered this Bible. It wasn’t quite this expensive then, but it was way pricier than I’ve ever spent on a book or Bible, but I wanted a really nice one that would last me years and years and years and could be passed on to my children one day. I saw it as a small investment into my spiritual life, and called it a Christmas gift for myself. (Justin – you’re welcome. You’re were off the hook that year.)
So I ordered the Bible, and it came in the mail and smelled SO GOOD! That leather — Yum! I couldn’t wait to dive in and start studying. I printed off Mackenzie Monroe’s Savor & Establish study of Phillippians for the month of November. I remember this because I was also using some of the tips I’d read in a post about how busy moms who can barely finish a cup of coffee can sneak in quiet time… One of those tips was to leave your Bible out so that you could come back to it when you have gaps in your day. I did this and my little Linkin used my pen and scribbled all over one of the pages when I wasn’t looking. I wanted to be mad, yall. But I chose not to. Instead, I labelled it with his name and the date so I could remember how old he was when it happened. A sweet little memory that shows growth in him and in my quiet times. I wish I could find that post for yall, because it was filled with tips, and they were good, but unfortunately it’s no longer online. So I guess I will be writing my own post about that soon.
So I started with that study, and I did an Advent study in December 2015. In January of 2016, I was determined to make this a habit and a rhythm of my life. It’s so important, yall. And so I did. I found the Journal & Doodle Bible Studies from Stone Soup for Five. They are so good! I filled up a few Moleskine books with my notes from these studies and prayers and scriptures. I’ve found that I really like having nice quality journals to use, and it makes me actually want to use them. Nice leather Bible, nice quality paper, and nice quality pens to write on. Investments into my spiritual life, and to me – these are worth it because now I actually use them.
I made my quiet time a priority, and I wanted my children to know that it was a priority for me too. At first when I would wake up early, they would wake up early too – no matter how quiet I tried to be. I tried not to get frustrated (because I really wanted to), but instead I would read it aloud to them if they would let me, or give them something to color, or tell them they could grab a granola bar so they wouldn’t be starving until breakfast time came around. It hasn’t always been perfect. I was pregnant last year so there was a lot of morning sickness. I can’t function well in the mornings when I’m pregnant. At least not during that first trimester. It’s just not pretty. So I did devotionals and the Bible reading app on my phone throughout the day, and I worked on my Journal and Doodle Studies randomly, when I found some time to do so. It took me MONTHS to get through the study of John. I think it’s definitely true that there are seasons of life, and God does give grace for those seasons in which it’s hard to prioritize this time. But I also think it’s up to us to make it happen when we can. God will always be there waiting for us. He’s just waiting for us to show up to meet him too.
During this time, I was learning the importance of prayer and how to strategically pray for myself and those around me. I learned how to pray scriptures, and I found that it makes it so much easier to know what to pray about certain situations when I do this. I will google a list of scriptures on a topic and select some to pray for specific people and situations and write them down in my journal. As I’m turning through the pages of my journal in the morning, I just pray as God leads me. I have many different things that I pray for myself, my husband, and my children especially, but I don’t pray every single item every single day. I just let God lead me and pray whatever is on my heart for them. I add to the list specifics that I’ve noticed or they’ve mentioned. I pray for my family, my friends, those that I know that are going through tough times or need healing, the members of my small group, my team members, and our pastors. If someone asks me to pray for them, I go ahead and do so right then. Many times I’ll have friends mention a prayer need during the week, and I want to make sure that I actually pray for them – instead of just intending to but never doing so. So I’ll pray for them immediately, then again whenever I think of them or in my morning prayer time, and doing that prompts me to follow up with them to see how things are going.
I usually have my quiet time of Bible study and prayer in the mornings in our living room. I’ve always loved when I’ve visted people’s homes and saw that they had “a chair” – a chair where their Bible study, books, and pens laid out right beside them. I’ve always wanted to have a “chair” like that – a place that I meet with God on a regular basis, and I have that in my living room now. I’ve found that I am more likely to spend time in prayer and Bible study when I have a plan in place. I have to be intentional about this time, just like any other thing for me. Whether it’s a Bible study, a list of scriptures to pray, or a journal that I can make a bulleted list of things to pray for – it helps me. I do pray spontaneously as I feel the need throughout the day, as something comes to mind, or as someone mentions a need. I love the idea of praying for my family while I wash the dishes, cook meals, or while I fold the laundry – but I usually use this time to listen to a podcast. I am noticing lately that I am prompted to pray more often throughout my day – sometimes I feel the need to just go in my room and get alone with God in the middle of the day. Sometimes I feel like voicing a quick prayer to help me through a parenting situation or some emotions I’ve been dealing with.
I’m trying to teach my boys to think about praying for situations in their lives – such as when they get hurt or when they hear the siren of an emergency vehicle going to respond to a call. I’m noticing the need to pray during our homeschooling times. I’m learning to pray when those frustrations arise and reset our attitudes so that we can do the work that we need to do. I’ve found that this is so important for cultivating this relationship with my children and encouraging them to love learning. They will not love it if it’s a fight every day and full of nasty attitudes from all of us.
My quiet time and prayer life is so important to me now. It’s grown so much over time, and I have goals that it will only keep getting better and better. I know that even as my prayer language is developed more, this will also take my prayer life to a new level.
Now I told you that I had a very special treat in store for you with this series, and this is it! I have invited several others to join me on this and share with my readers how they pray and what their prayer times look like. I don’t ever want this to be all about me – It’s so much fun to invite others in and have more of a community here.
Today you will get to hear from Mrs. Susan Ruff. She is a volunteer on the prayer team at Northwood Church, and there’s a reason why. She has led prayer small groups, including one called The Battle Plan for Prayer, based on the movie War Room. I was a member of this small group, and it taught me SO MUCH about applying scriptures to my prayers and praying God’s word, specifically for different things. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but it was like that was a light bulb moment for me – something people have probably told me all my life, but it didn’t click for me, until I was in this small group with Mrs. Susan. I love her faith, how she intercedes for others, and how she calls God, Father when she refers to Him. It’s so intimate and wonderful. God has used her in many ways, some of which she shares with us here.
So without further ado, here is what Mrs. Susan had to say about her prayer life…
“My prayer time is throughout the day. I am constantly asking questions, praising God, or just talking to Him. I do try to get away for 30-60 minutes a day to just be quiet, but it does not happen every day. I pray specifically by getting scriptures to pray. I know when I am praying his Word, then I know He hears, and I know the anwer is on its way. Sometimes my prayers are very quiet, sometimes loud. But all the time with great respect for Father and the King of Kings. I am very honest with Him because how else can you be? Sometimes I start off with music, and sometimes it is very silent. My favorite place to pray – well, actually I have two. I love to go to church and pray. My other place is being in my hammock. That is a place where Father has showed me some pretty neat things. I have journaled, and I have written out prayers, but sometimes my hands do not allow me to do that. I guess I just want to say that there is no certain way, I just pour out my heart to Father in the name of Jesus. He is always there and even when I don’t feel Him, I know He is there. I have learned prayer is not as hard as we try to make it. It is just talking to my best friend. And I know He has my very beset interest in mind. I have also learned that He always answers, but it may not be in my timing. I am always amazed at his timing. Right now He is speaking to me about faith and healing. He has been leading me to certain people and books, and He is really showing me how much He loves me. Oh how He loves me! It is sometimes more than I can understand, but it is oh so good! One of the prayers that God has answered is the salvation of my brother in law. His wife and I prayed sever years for him. To me, the salvation of someone is the greatest. One time I was used to pray over a child who was having seizures – she came out of that seizure and never had another one. Can’t tell of all the times He has just given me the desires of my heart overy everyday matters. He is just so wonderful, and I can’t wait to see Him face to face.”