The Priority of Prayer
Just when I thought God was ready to move on to something else, He spoke to my heart, “Pray Girl, Pray.” Before being convinced this was indeed the theme, He was leading me to in 2023 for Warrior Woman Blog Ministry, I reminded God of how He had already given me prayer as a special topic of focus last summer. I wanted to be sure it was not my personal affinity for prayer leading me, but truly God’s spirit. Then I heard something in my spirit that settled me and offered the confirmation I needed. God spoke, “But I’m not done.”
After God gave me the outline for this year’s blogging content, little did I realize that in less than a week, He would further affirm prayer as the focus for Warrior Woman in 2023. You see, I had been researching various small groups curriculum when I happened to run across a Bible study series on prayer. As I listened to the introduction session, I didn’t know if I wanted to scream, run, jump up and down, or fall out of my seat because five of the specific content topics God gave me to blog about (each for a different month this year) were being addressed in this Bible study. Only God can work things out like that and give you what I like to call ”God winks.”
When can any of us ever say we are done cultivating our prayer life? There is always more of God to experience and greater revelations of His glory we have yet to encounter. I believe God is constantly beckoning us to come. Come and be with Him. Come up higher as we ascend in His presence through prayer. Come deeper as we expand our knowledge and understanding about prayer. Luke 18:1 (ESV) reminds us, “And he [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Prayer is always appropriate and should always be our first response. But first it must become our priority.
If we were to take a poll, how much spiritual illiteracy would we discover among Christians that exists in the area of prayer? People must be taught about prayer so that they are equipped to sustain an effective, fervent prayer life. However, before we can be taught about prayer, we must have a sincere desire to grow in prayer. Pursuit follows passion. If prayer is not something we truly deem valuable and important, then it will never be a priority.
Since you are reading this, I am going to make an assumption that you already have a passionate desire to pursue God’s presence through a dedicated prayer life. In this first installment of the “Pray Girl Pray” series for the year, let’s focus on how we literally make prayer our priority.
The human struggle we all face in life is being able to match our actions with what we say. If we say prayer is our priority, then why does it seem we have a hard time translating that to our choices, our behaviors, and yes - our time management as it pertains to prioritizing prayer? Though some lack valuing prayer as a priority because they lack desire, pursuit, and passion, that is not necessarily true for all. Some of us honestly desire to make prayer our priority, we just falter with implementation and follow through.
So then, where do we start? How do we prioritize prayer in the real-time movement of real life? Here are three practical steps you can take to get you going.
Make Daily Prayer a Non-Negotiable
Prioritizing prayer starts with us making up in our heart and mind that prayer is essential to our existence. Prayer is like oxygen to the life of believers. If we treat it as if it is up for negotiation, then whenever other things come up (and they will) we will not maintain our commitment to pray.
I encourage you to pray first. In other words, before you get jumping and hopping with your day, be with God first in prayer. If we allow others to impede on our prayer time, then we have negotiated something sacred that should be a non-negotiable in our lives. Praying first also means praying before we react so that we can best respond. Inserting a “pray first” mentality into our daily realities keeps us Christ-centered in our character and conduct.
We must guard our dedicated prayer times. Prioritizing prayer does not mean doing everything else first. Planning all of our tasks, responsibilities, social events, and recreational activities in our schedule should not happen first, and then we pencil God in somewhere on our planner. Our appointment times with God in prayer needs to be established first, and everything else managed around it.
Matthew 6:2 (ESV) tells us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I have always firmly believed that whatever is important to us, we will find time and make a way to do it. It really is human nature. Where we invest our time, talent, and treasure (money) often reveals the affections of our heart.
Decide When You Will Pray
The second action we can take to prioritize prayer in our lives is to decide when we will pray. This may sound really basic, but one of the reasons we do not evidence prayer as a priority is because we have not set time dedicated exclusively to praying. And I am not just talking about the prayer we offer when we wake up in the morning thanking God for another day. I am talking about designated time blocks to be with God in prayer for specific purposes. If we cannot start with consistently committing five minutes, then of course one hour will seem impossible. This reminds me of the time Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before being taken to be crucified, and His disciples fell asleep instead of praying. He responded by saying, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40, NKJV).
I have heard people make comments like, “I don’t have time to be in prayer for hours of the day.” As a career woman and entrepreneur, I completely get it. I also know this: we can’t afford NOT to spend time with God in prayer, every single day.
Although we can always pray in any context and in any environment, there is something special and necessary about seeking God in prayer for uninterrupted blocks of time privately. Jesus modeled this for us, as He often went away to remote locations to pray. Mark 1:35 (NIV) reveals, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Not only do we need time to meet with God in daily prayer, but we benefit from carving out space in our lives to hear from God in silence and solitude prayer times; times of warring in prayer through intercession; and making specific requests to God in strategic times of prayer. Prayer has various dimensions and dynamics, and it is in experiencing the variety of them all we continue growing in our prayer life.
Knowing when you are going to pray and what type of prayers you are intentionally going to pray brings a greater sense of focus to your prayer time. This helps us maintain the priority of prayer in our day-to-day life.
Determine Where You Will Pray
You may have a favorite place to pray, a particular spot in your home you have identified as your personal “prayer closet.” That is wonderful! But don’t be limited or restricted to a confined area. As a matter of fact, you may want to establish multiple spots you can pray in so that when you are in that area of your home, it reminds you to associate certain types of prayers with that location. For example, there are certain prayers I pray while sitting up in my bed. But they are different from the prayers I pray while sitting or kneeling at my prayer chair. It is a good idea to mix it up and change your physical space as you feel led to do so.
When determining where you will pray so that prayer is prioritized, I want to encourage us to seek places and spaces outside of a normal routine. Maybe that might look like taking a weekend to engage in a prayer conference, sabbatical, or retreat. If you like nature, you might devote a few hours one day to meeting God in prayer while hiking or sitting on the beach. Even if you can’t get away, you can always go to a nearby park or walk in your neighborhood.
Just like we take trips and plan vacations, we can prioritize spending time with God in prayer and asking God to show us the place, how, and when He is leading us to go be with Him. Yes, sometimes it will require sacrifice on our part, but going the extra mile to be with God is worth the investment to our spiritual life. When we put God first and make prayer our priority, we will reap the spiritual and natural fruit in our lives, as well as those around us, with eternal rewards we cannot begin to imagine.