By Jennifer Davis Rash
Executive Editor, The Alabama Baptist
Are you committed to prayer or do you just make a contribution to prayer?
Jane Bellew, board chairwoman of The Alabama Baptist, asked that question during the state Baptist paper’s March board meeting. We were brainstorming potential future editorial topics for the paper and prayer surfaced as an idea to consider.
Could we enhance the spiritual lives of our readers with an emphasis on prayer and by providing resources for developing one’s prayer life?
We talked about the fact that fewer and fewer people understand how to pray corporately. We also discussed how the phrase “I’ll be praying for you” has become a general nicety-type statement rather than a sincere investment. It’s said more as a closing statement in a conversation after hearing about someone’s concerns or situation — kind of like how we start a conversation with “How are you?”
What do we really mean when we tell people we will be praying for them? Do we? And, if we do, is it merely a contribution toward the praying being done or are we truly committed to pray intensely and consistently? How often do we even remember to ask them about the concern or the situation the next time we see them?
My brother takes this matter seriously. He is careful not to flippantly tell others he is praying for them unless he truly means it. So when he calls or sends me a text saying he is praying for me on a certain day or about a difficult situation, I know without a doubt he is indeed praying for me.
One of my co-workers also is careful to say things like “I’m going to say a prayer for you right now” or “I just prayed for you about this.” She is a true prayer warrior, but she’s also careful not to overpromise.
A friend of mine at church has had some serious prayer needs during the past year. When she was sharing her situation with a few of us, she said she was seeking prayers from those who were committed at the level of “on your knees, until you are exhausted” kind of praying. She’s given that kind of prayer commitment to us at one time or another, and we had to decide if we were dedicated enough to return the favor.
I have been blessed to have a consistent stream of strong prayer warriors in my life including retired Southern Baptist missionaries Mickey and the late Charlotte Searcy. They were definitely a team you wanted praying for you in times of need.
Charlotte taught me about prayer journaling and organizing prayer lists. She encouraged praying together and praying out loud. She meditated on Scripture and truly knew how to listen to God. She took praying for others seriously.
But what if we are not dedicated at the level Charlotte was? How do we deepen our commitment, and how do we find the kind of time needed to pray at that level?
I think of the various stages of life and how so many of them are excessively busy with no time to spare. At the same time, we have to remember this is one of the spiritual disciplines and we must find a slot for it. Here we are back to balance again — proper sleep, consistent exercise, productive effort at work, time with family and friends and time with God in His Word and in prayer.
What about you? How has your prayer life been turned around? What resources would you recommend for developing one’s prayer life?
I’d love to hear about your experiences. Comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.