Planning My Place of Prayer
One of the hardest things about praying is not the act of prayer itself, but rather the preparation involved in maintaining a consistent prayer life. We know that we can pray at any time about anything and that we do not need to make reservations in order to talk with God. He loves to hear us pray and welcomes our spontaneous prayers. At the same time, planning out our place of prayer is a small gesture on our part that expresses our commitment to prayer, and it can assist us in maintaining prayer as a high priority in our lives.
Our place of prayer, though symbolic of the connection we experience in an intimate relationship with God, also refers to the literal place we chose to pray and the practical things we implement in order to ensure we have made space to avail ourselves to God. Luke 11:1 (NIV) tells us, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples’.” In this passage we learn that Jesus had a “certain place” to pray. If Jesus valued identifying a certain or specific location to meet with God, then perhaps we can take note of His example and apply the same actions in our lives.
Last fall, I had the pleasure of leading a ladies Bible study written by Anne Graham Lotz entitled, The Daniel Prayer. In her book, she gives several ways we can prepare for prayer: having a dedicated place, having a specific time, having the right atmosphere, and having the correct attitude about approaching God are all things we can plan ahead of time in anticipation for our devotional times of prayer. As women who are serious about cultivating an authentic prayer life with God, I would like to offer you three questions to consider when planning your place of prayer.
1. Where will you pray?
Having a place identified is special because it serves as a visual reminder that this is the physical space you have dedicated to meeting with the Lord. Maybe it is a particular room, a particular chair, or a particular posture, but the purpose remains the same. Knowing you have delegated a certain location to begin meeting with God in prayer helps cultivate an atmosphere for praying. Remember, there is no one set place. You may choose to have multiple places identified so that you can engage differently in prayer and associate each for a specific type or purpose when praying. Maybe you kneel to pray when interceding for others. Maybe you take prayer walks when praying for yourself. Our places of prayer are not limited to or defined by any one physical location.
2. What will you pray about?
If you have ever felt overwhelmed about so many things to pray for, then you can relate to this question. Sometimes, there is so much on our heart we want to share with God, knowing where to start and how to get it all out can feel a little intimidating or overwhelming. When we are in our place of prayer, it is perfectly fine with God if we are strategic about what we are praying for. It does not make our prayers any less effective because we have planned how we will approach His throne. Of course, we rely upon and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit to guide us so that we know how to respond appropriately to the presence of God.
Sometimes, God will prompt us to do something differently than what we have planned, and that is okay. But having a plan at least gives us a “jump off” point that helps us bring shape to our thoughts. Understanding that prayer is a conversation and not a monologue prompts us to listen for God actively as we pray. Listening or responding in silence is often the most appropriate response to God’s presence. We should be just as comfortable with listening to God as we are speaking to Him. If you would like a resource to support you in this area, I have created my Pray Girl Pray Prayer Focus Guide and Planner that you can download without cost when you subscribe to my email list (patriceburrell.com).
3. What do I need to have in my place of prayer?
Preparing our place of prayer means being practical about what resources we will need to keep on hand so that once we meet with God to pray, we will not have to get up looking for things and become distracted. To begin with, have a Bible within reach. Other materials might include pens (I like to keep a colorful selection), journals, note paper, a box of tissues, a devotional or prayer book, and even a device you can use to make a quick audio recording. You may want to light a candle, play worship music, or position yourself in an area where you can experience natural lighting. Although these things are very practical and may not seem spiritual, they will assist you in making the most of your prayer time once you actually start praying.
I will leave you with this story. A couple of years ago, my daughter told me that when she was younger, she was afraid to sit in my prayer chair. She knew it was strictly for the purpose of praying, and over the years, her observations informed her that there was something special about that chair. I smiled as I reflected upon what she was telling me because I realized something pretty amazing. My daughter was not really “afraid” of the chair, she had learned to respect the purpose it represented. It is my prayer that her childhood memories of seeing me pray in that chair will stay with her for the rest of her life, and that one of my greatest legacies given to her will be a love for prayer. And you know what my dear, beautiful sister, that is my prayer for you too - that your love for prayer will continue to grow just as your love for God increases day by day. Pray girl...keep praying.