Have you ever been Black Friday shopping? I don’t mean “Black Friday on Thursday night” shopping like the stores do now; with Walmart cutting open Reynolds Wrapped boxes at certain times to allow people to dig into what it contains. Although that can be a bit chaotic in and of itself, I’m talking about old school Black Friday shopping: standing outside of the store regardless of the weather at 3:00 am, pushing past and knocking down anyone and everyone when they unlock the doors just to get a $5.00 hand mixer before they sell out. That kind of Black Friday shopping.
I distinctly remember a trip that went down like that with my Granny when I was about 10 or 11. We stood outside of the Walmart for two and a half hours waiting to get inside. She and her three sisters who were with us had drawn up a sketch…an actual pen-and-paper sketch of the inside of the Walmart with a list of who was going where and what they were getting.
They had a plan of attack.
Needless to say, we all walked away from Walmart that morning with everything we went to purchase and no permanent bruises or scars. Their plan was flawless; everyone split up, came at the sale items strategically and they all gifted their selected items as they planned. Now…had they just walked into the store that morning without any idea of where they were going, what they wanted to get and with no sense of urgency they likely wouldn’t have gotten those things. They’d have probably missed out and left empty handed.
What might our lives look like if we bothered to pray that strategically?
While the spiritual matters of our hearts and our families are a much bigger deal than a black Friday sale, the intentionality is what I want to focus on. Their strategy, their game plan was thought out, discussed, examined, perfected as best it could be. It was intentional.
Could you confidently say the same things about your prayer life? I know I couldn’t. Despite growing up in a Christian household and attending church regularly, I don’t remember ever being taught how to pray. I still remember the well-rehearsed, “now I lay me down to sleep” mantra I could recite. I know the Lord’s Prayer by heart.
But intentional prayer? That is something I never learned. In all honesty, I thought that prayer was just something that the pastor did. I thought that we said the blessing before a meal and the preacher man did the rest of the talking to God on Sunday mornings or evenings or whenever the service was. Recognizing that I too could talk to God-like really and truly spill my heart to him was something that I didn’t discover until I was older.
[bctt tweet=”My attempt to do just that-control it all- was leaving me depleted and worn out. ” username=”@CourtneyKirklnd”]
If I am being totally honest and transparent, for a long, long time I didn’t pray because I didn’t think that it worked. I didn’t believe that God heard me nor did he care. I didn’t pray because I didn’t sound like the preacher did when he would talk to God. I didn’t know the “right” way to do it. I was pretty sure that God was busy listening to other people. I got distracted (which is why I have to write down my prayers even now…my ADD is for real when it comes to staying focused). I had any number of excuses. They were all just that: excuses.
I didn’t begin to truly desire prayer…real, intentional, heartfelt prayer until I got married. During the rough patches of being newlyweds, followed by the rough patches of being new parents and any other number of things that caused friction in my life, I realized that I could not control the circumstances around me. My attempt to do just that-control it all– was leaving me depleted and worn out.
We pray because our own solutions don’t work and because prayer deploys, activates, and fortifies us against the attacks of the enemy. We pray because we’re serious about taking back the ground he has sought to take from us.
At this point in history, at this place in time, we can’t afford to half-heartedly pray. There is too much going on around us; too much hate and destruction. Too much evil at any given turn to leave our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, to chance. It’s time to hold fast to what is ours and battle it out like we have the God who created the universe on our side. Because we do.
I don’t invite you to this challenge lightly.
Rest assured that the more you learn about praying strategically; the more you desire to play purposefully…the most intentional the enemy is going to attack you. Our hope is in the knowledge that as children of God, we have already won the battle.
So if you’re ready, let’s get ready to pray.
(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)
- When/How did you learn how to pray?
- Have you experienced the power of prayer directly in your life?
- What do you do when it feels like God doesn’t hear you?
- What scares you most about becoming an honest-to-goodness prayer warrior?
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 Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,