In this episode, we look at what Scripture says about prayer, why it is essential to Christian life, and how to begin cultivating a persevering practice of prayer.
Welcome to Verity podcast, I’m your host Phylicia Masonhiemer and I am here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here and I hope you’ll join me on this journey because every woman is a theologian.
Hello friends and welcome back to Verity podcast, this week we are talking about prayer. And I was thinking back on all of the seasons and episodes that we have done on this podcast in the last two years. There’s almost 100 episodes now, and I realize we never done an episode dedicated to prayer. And obviously I could do an entire series on this, we could go so in-depth but per my usual I’m going to try to keep it high level and 20 to 30 minutes. So we’re going to look at what prayer is, what the goal of prayer is, and how we can pray practically because a couple of weeks ago I sent out my weekly newsletter, The Conlectio, and talked about how there are several phrases in Christian world that make me crazy. And one of those is just pray about it, without teaching people how to pray. I was only talking very briefly about that topic, so I didn’t get into depth on prayer in that newsletter, but we got some replies to it saying, “Well, how do I pray.” So, I had already worked up the notes for this episode and I thought let’s just make sure this one gets out there as quickly as possible.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there have been periods of time throughout my Christian life where I definitely felt like and knew that my prayer life wasn’t what it should be. As in it wasn’t as strong as I knew would be good for me. Based on everything we see in scripture about prayer, which we’ll be reading in just a second. I knew there’s better for me, God wants better for me and so I made a concerted effort to work towards a healthier prayer life. Especially in the last few years, as Every Woman a Theologian grew, I just knew that it was so vital that I be a praying person, a praying leader. But it’s not just important to those of us who are in ministry, it’s important to every single Christian because prayer is the very heart of the Christian life. I think a lot of times we say, “Well, the word of God is the heart of the Christian life.” But I would say that, “The word of God talks a whole lot about prayer.” [laughs] Jesus gave us the example of how to pray as we’ll see in a moment and assume that his disciples will be praying. It is important to us not only to pray, you probably hear, perpetuate in the background, our cat, she’s playing in my office. But this discipline of prayer because it is a spiritual discipline, it’s not easy, it’s not natural. This discipline of prayer is what mobilizes the Word of God in our lives because it connects us to the heart of God, connects us to the Holy Spirit through Christ and we are becoming more and more like Jesus as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
If you listen to my episode on How to Hear God’s Voice or the episode on How to Walk by the Spirit, it’s all linked together. If we want to walk by the Spirit and hear God’s voice for the decisions we’re making, we have to pray and we will not know how to walk by the Spirit if we don’t pray. We won’t hear God’s voice if we don’t pray. So, all of this is connected. We have to be praying people. I would say it is absolutely vital but I would also say that as you journey into dedicating yourself to a stronger prayer life, you will experience such exciting things in your Walk with God. You will ask yourself, why did I not begin this sooner? Why did I not devote myself to prayer sooner? Because you will suddenly come alive with the realization that the Christian life that Jesus promised in the Bible is the direct result of your prayer life with God. I think so many of us miss out on this or we wonder all of these intellectual questions about God and about the Bible because we aren’t praying about it. We aren’t seeking God in prayer or we try out prayer like it’s a car on a used car lot. Well, I tried it out and it didn’t do what I wanted it to do, or it didn’t give me results in 30 days, so I returned it, that’s not how prayer works. Prayer is a long-term relationship with a loving God, and loving and righteous God and here’s the thing, he doesn’t owe us anything, he doesn’t owe us anything. Every good gift that comes from God, from our Father of lights from our holy and righteous savior, is a gift of grace to undeserving people. We do not deserve the blessings He gives us and yet He says, “If you seek me, I will be found by you.” Jesus said that, “God is not like a father, who when asked for a loaf of bread and said, He gives his child a snake or a stone.” God is not like that, He’s kind, He wants to give blessings but at the same time, we can’t take those truths and then begin to assume that we deserve God to answer us the way we want him to answer us.
I believe a lot of us come to prayer that way, we come to prayer wanting to test God, we come to prayer wanting to get results. And we don’t come to prayer with this heart of experiencing God as a person and experiencing relationship with him. That mindset has to change for your prayer life to truly grow. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago and I realized I cannot accept a person’s opinion of the effectiveness of prayer, if they do not possess a daily habit of it. Because if someone just prays once, and God doesn’t jump like a genie, and then says, “God doesn’t work, prayer doesn’t work.” It’s not that prayer doesn’t work, it’s that they don’t pray enough to know whether it does or doesn’t. And their mindset going into it is one of testing God and demanding that he perform for them, in order for them to believe. In the Walking by the Spirit episode, I discussed this and how this is not a game of God proving Himself to us. Faith is belief in what you cannot see and that belief is not in the thing you’re praying for. It’s in the character of the god you’re praying to. We don’t seek God’s hand, we seek His face. Now, this does not mean that we never have requests of God. And we’ll get to that in a second. In fact, I’ll move that direction now. I want to give you a few tips for prayer practically, but I want to house the tips that I give you in this mindset about prayer. This shift from seeing prayer as about a list of requests of God, to an intimacy with Him, a conversation with Him. Listening to Him, hearing His voice, reading His word, praying it back to Him, and also sharing all of your requests and experiences with Him.
It is relationship but it’s not just request because what human relationship do we have that could possibly exist when one person only interacts with the other in terms of requests. If my relationship with my children was only them asking for things, it would not be a healthy relationship especially if they got older. Now, certainly at their young and immature stages there are a lot of requests. Mom, can I watch Bluey, mom, can I have a snack, mom, can we go outside. All of those requests are because they’re very dependent on me and they’re young, and they’re immature. But as they mature, the litany of requests should grow less and our relationship should consist of more than that. And the same as for the Christian life, you might be starting out in prayer, and all it is, is requests but as you mature and grow in your faith, and in your understanding of God and prayer your relationship with God should also mature. And you should have a more robust prayer life with Him that has more guts to it than just asking for stuff. So, let’s look at what Jesus gave us as a model for this kind of prayer life. I’m looking in Matthew 6, This is during the sermon on the mount. He’s instructing his disciples on how to pray and He specifically points out that the Pharisees would come and pray in public where they could be seen. He says in verse 5, “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners that they may be seen by others.”
Truly I say to you they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words, do not be like them. For your Father knows what you need before you ask Him, pray then like this. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. In this passage, He gives us a lot of information. He starts by giving us an example of a trend among the religious leaders at the time, which was to pray publicly and elaborately for the attention that they would get. And he says, “That’s the reward.”
The attention of people is their reward, but they have no reward beyond that. Then He compares the godly prayer first, He compares it to the Pharisees, and then he compares it to the pagan religions of the day and He says, “Look, the Gentiles heap up a ton of empty phrases, extra words, fancy words, thinking that that’s going to impress their deity.” But I’m not asking you to do that, you can say exactly what’s on your heart because your Father already knows what you need before you even ask Him. Then He outlines the Lord’s prayer for us and if you look at the Lord’s Prayer, remember this is a model. This isn’t like, oh, this is the only prayer that you can ever pray. It was a model for the disciples to follow. So, our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. This is a statement of reverence and respect for God. It’s acknowledging His power, His greatness and His Holiness. Hallowed means Holy, Holy is your name. Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So here is this submission to God’s will and saying what you want, what you direct, what you will, I submit my will to yours, I want Earth to be as heaven and that includes my own personal will and desires. Give us this day our daily bread, so this would be asking for the things you need, requests just as I spoke about earlier and then forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. So here is repentance, lament, asking for forgiveness, but also an accountability to God, to ask Him where do I need to forgive someone else of how they’ve offended me. Then lastly, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. So, asking for His protection, His guidance, His discernment, and His wisdom. So, this is a model for how to pray, the things that you can and should be praying for.
Some people have distilled down these principles of prayer into something called the ACTS model of prayer. A-C-T-S, and it’s an acronym for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I personally love this quick model, it’s not a rule that you have to follow but I like to use it as a reminder when I am writing out my prayers in the morning, because it reminds me not to get stuck in that litany of requests. It reminds me to continue maturing in my prayer life and to start my prayers by focusing on the character of God. Which is what adoration is and that’s what you see Jesus do here where he says, “Our Father in heaven, Holy be your name.” So, I like to start my prayers with adoration with focusing on God’s character, His heart, who He is, all of the things we see in scripture about Him. The Psalms are great for this if you want to use the Psalms as a base for a prayer of adoration. I also love the book, Adore by my friend Sara Hagerty, which talks at length about how adoration of God changes our daily lives. That’s the kind of prayer that you can pray at any point during your day. You can adore God for the sun’s that you see in the sky. For the Bible verse that your child is memorizing. You can adore Him for all of the small movements of His hand in your day. So, adoration is the very first part of this prayer model.
The second is confession, so confessing any sins but also confessing what’s on your heart like what are you struggling with. What is a roadblock in your intimacy with God. What do you need to bring to the Lord and ask for His wisdom, ask for His input and I would say during the confession portion is when I do a lot of time listening to God’s voice and listening for Him to speak, and listening for how He’s leading me, and what I need to do with any areas of repentance that he’s working on. Do I need to apologize to someone, do I need to reach out to someone, do I need to set a better boundary. What is it that I need to do during that confession time?
After a three-year hiatus, Verity Conference is back and it’s coming to Petoskey, Michigan, November 4th and 5th. I’m so thrilled to bring back Verity Conference after our short break of a few years for COVID, and this time we are much bigger with two amazing speakers joining me, to talk about Apologetics and Evangelism. How do we share our faith effectively in today’s culture in a way that is both gracious and truthful. You’ll hear from me, Jeremy Jenkins of All Things All People and Pricelis Dominguez, who is going to share with us how to love other people while also speaking the truth? Jeremy specializes in world religions and cults and he will be talking about evangelism in that context. I am so excited for this event. I hope you can join us. You can grab the remaining early bird tickets on my website, phyliciamasonheimer.com if you click the conference tab.
The third point is thanksgiving. So, the T and X and this is just what it sounds like. It’s thanking God for what He’s done for you, how He’s shown Himself to you for who He is. And you can spend as much time in this as you want to if you’re wondering what do I thank God for. I like to start by thinking about my closest relationships. I also like to thank God for the things I see in nature. Nature is something that always moves me to worship and I like to thank God for the beauty that I see in nature. You might thank Him for the smallest provisions that he’s given you, I was able to put gas in my car. Those things are all examples of thanksgiving prayer. The last thing, the last letter of ACTS is supplication. The S word supplication [chuckles] and what this means is requests, so this is when you’re asking God for things. Obviously asking God for things is a big part of prayer. I have seen so many amazing answers to prayer over the course of my life. But the key to supplication in my opinion is again that mindset that God doesn’t owe me anything, He is all powerful and He’s all good and all kind. But He desires to give me what is best for me, so I ask Him for things on the basis of my limited wisdom, and his good heart.
So, I’m asking for something that I may not know is the best thing for me, but maybe I think it is and I’m trusting that His heart is good because that’s what I see in scripture. And how He answers that prayer will be based on His complete wisdom and his kind heart. This is how I can pray confidently and specifically, and I say specifically because vague prayers get vague answers. If you are praying vague prayers, like “Dear God, please bless my husband today.” Well, what does bless mean? What do you mean by that? What are you really asking for when you pray that prayer? Dear God, please find us a house that is perfect for our family. Well, what do you mean by that? What does perfect mean to you? What are you truly asking God? You can’t hide what you really desire from Him. He already knows, so you might as well tell Him and interact with Him and go on the journey with Him.
The house that we’re living in now, our farmhouse at Willows Bend, is what I call our miracle house. I knew that one day we would want to move out of our town, downtown and into the country, but I figured it was pretty far off and this was in 2019. In 2019, I had broken my leg and went into surgery. I have a plate and eight screws in my knee. And then just as I began walking, we were planning Verity Conference for that year. So, this was the last Verity Conference was in 2019, and we were planning that, and I was on crutches. We were also going out of town to visit Josh’s family in Virginia, so it was just a lot going on. At this particular moment while I’m sitting in a wheelchair in my house I decided to just hop on Zillow and look around and see what was for sale.
To this day. I do not know why I did that. There was no reason, we did not need to move, we did not want to move, we’re always hoping one day, but we had no reason to leave at that time with two small kids, me in a wheelchair and all of this on our plate. But there was this house in Willows Bend this house is a house I grew up driving past my entire childhood and I always thought it was just the prettiest house with all of these willows around it. I just thought, “Wow, if I ever lived somewhere, I would love to live somewhere like that.” This house is for sale and it’s been on the market for 10 days. We began to pray about this house, should we move there, is it bad timing, is it foolish. This doesn’t seem like the right thing and I just began to pray very, very specifically. And I don’t want to get into all of the details because it’s a very, very long story. I have the highlight on my Instagram. It’s called House Story or Home Story. But essentially, we prayed very specific prayers about the amount of money that we could spend, about the timeframe that needed to happen, and for the peace of the process, every single one of those prayers was answered. But the journey to those prayers being answered was incredibly unexpected, sometimes difficult, sometimes disappointing, and sometimes utterly crazy. But in the end, it was God’s will that we had this house.
There’s a lot of reasons why I think that the Lord has called us to steward this house, and to steward where we live. But I got to see God’s faithfulness and His kindness through that process. I got to see His faithfulness and His kindness before I ever knew that we were even going to be in this house. There was a point during the process when it looked like we just weren’t going to get the house at all, we weren’t going to move and I was content with that. I was content with staying in our 1400-square-foot cottage in town. It was a precious house and we loved it, but God also answered that prayer, that desire of our hearts. And He did it in a way that absolutely blew our minds. But we saw what He was doing because our hearts were tuned to see it by praying specifically. I did the same thing when I was praying for my future husband. I prayed very specifically about the kind of man I was looking to be with. Now I didn’t pray about physical characteristics because I wanted to be open and open to whoever God may have and not be judging people by physical appearances. But I was praying over character, I was praying over shared interests and passions and vision. And even though Josh and I have had a marriage that has been hard at times and we talk about that on the marriage series of the podcast. Even though there have been hard moments, I know for sure that the prayer that I prayed as a single woman is fulfilled in this man that I married. We pray specifically not so we just get what we want, we pray specifically to share our desires with God and allow God to shape those desires as He answers what we pray.
A couple of the verses I wanted to look at regarding prayer that give us some guidance on what this is supposed to look like. I wanted to look at 1 Timothy 2. This is the Apostle Paul writing to young Timothy, he says, “First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth. When we’re talking about praying specifically and supplication or supplications to God. We’re talking about intercessory prayer so sometimes we intercede for ourselves for things that we want. But intercessory prayer is usually or mainly focused on praying for other people, you’re interceding for someone else, you’re praying on their behalf and that’s what is being talked about here. I would say intercessory prayer is again one of the most important kinds of prayer that there can be. Over and over throughout the New Testament especially we see these letters saying, “Please pray for me, pray for me, lift me up before God.” Why, because when we do that we go to war against the powers of the enemy. This is a spiritual world with spiritual warfare happening and that’s why if we page back a little bit, we see in Ephesians right after Paul writes about the armor of God, he adds an additional piece of armor. [laughs]
We leave this one off. So, he says, “You need to have shoes on your feet as the readiness of the Gospel, shield of faith.” So, you can extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And then this is what he says, “Praying at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints and also for me, that words may be given to me and opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.” So, we often stopped short with the armor of God, we have the shoes and the shield, and the helmet, and the sword and all of that. But there is no specific piece of armor for prayer and yet he lists it as an essential to spiritual warfare because it is. So, we usually stopped sort of the Spirit, which is the word of God. But He then says, “Pray at all times in the Spirit. with all prayer and supplication keeping alert with perseverance.” I really want to focus on this passage because this is important. He is saying that you have the word of God, in your hand, it’s the sword. But you also need to be praying in the Spirit, you have the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, but you are to be praying in the Spirit in prayer and supplication. So, you’re speaking to God in intimacy with Him and then you’re also giving him your requests. He also notes something else, he says, “We need to keep alert with all perseverance.” This tells us that our temptation will be to apathy, and distraction, and laziness.
Even back then to the early church, keep alert with perseverance which implies our nature is to not be alert and to not persevere. So, if prayer comes difficultly to you, this should not be a surprise because the Apostle Paul is saying, “You have to pray.” I’m encouraging you to pray not because it’s easy, or it comes naturally to you. But because it is essential for you to fight the battle of your generation, it is essential for you to know what God is asking you to do. It is essential for you to know how to live the Christian life effectively. For you to do that, you must pray at all times and keep alert with perseverance in your praying. Perseverant prayer, I think is what is lost on my generation, the millennial generation in my experience working with them. It seems as if, if something takes discipline or time, or work, we don’t want to do it. We think something’s wrong. Would rather make a meme about how we can’t get up in the morning, or we fall asleep during it or we don’t want to try or it’s really hard for us or all of the reasons why we can’t do it instead of just saying you know what, it’s hard. A lot of things are hard but it’s worth it. In the Word of God says, “I need to do it ” because it is the way to walk with Jesus. It is the way for me to grow up in my faith and change my world. If you knew that prayer was the way the only way to abide in Christ, to know God’s will, to grow in maturity and to actually walk the Word of God out in your daily life. If you knew that was true, would you do it. No matter how hard it was and that’s the question we have to ask ourselves. Because it’s not a question of whether or not we should pray we know we should. It’s now a question of will you do it because it gets easier as you do it. It’s not going to get easier if you never do, if you never try, if you never persevere.
Perseverance by its very nature means you are pushing through opposition. You are pushing through your own opposition, your own nature, your own tiredness, your own whatever. And saying, “I am not going to continue circulating these thoughts in my mind without directing them to the Lord.” I am not going to start my day without aligning my heart with Christ. Because I say, He’s the most important thing to me. I say that, He’s, my king. I was just studying the Great Commission for Verity Conference next week because I’m speaking on Evangelism and something that I noticed is during the Great Commission, Jesus says, “That his first command to them is to go and to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And when He says, “To baptize people in the name of the Trinity. It literally means into the name of God, which implies they are being initiated into the service of a King.” They are giving their allegiance to this King. So, if you have been baptized into Christianity, if you’ve been baptized into Christ, you have been initiated into the kingdom of Christ, the King, and the King gets to tell you what to do. I think this is lost on us a little bit because we live in a democratic society, we live in a republic, [sigh] we don’t remember that Christ’s language around the gospel is that of kingship and authority. He actually precedes the entire Great Commission by saying, “I have authority on earth and in heaven.” I have all the authority, go therefore and make disciples. So, what does that have to do with prayer, it means that we have to understand ourselves rightly that we are servants of the King, and we need our marching orders, we need to know what to do and to know what to do, we have to pray. That is how we get our specific marching orders from God. But the beautiful thing is, we don’t have this unloving King, this King who’s distant and doesn’t want anything to do with us.
We have a personal and loving Father, who also happens to be the King. And because of that, we can go to Him and trust His affection when we bring our requests and also when we ask Him, “What are you asking me to do, Lord.” it’s a both– It’s both the intimacy of prayer to our Father and understanding the authority of God as King. It is both supplication and confession. It is adoration and thanksgiving. Intercessory prayer on behalf of other people is an example of that kind of perseverance. Because sometimes you’ll pray for somebody for 20 years, and you won’t see any outward fruit or maybe you’ll pray for your city and you’ll feel like things aren’t changing. But I promise you, the more specific you are and the more perseverant you are, the more your eyes are open to what God is doing. The last thing I want to mention about prayer is the idea of unceasing prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says, “To pray without ceasing.” And you might be thinking, well, how is that possible. I can’t pray every single minute of the day. Well, probably not but you can remain in constant connection to Christ through prayer which interestingly is exactly what He said to do in John 15. He said, “I am the true vine, my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I’ve spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.” He goes on to say that apart from Him you can do nothing, nothing and yet we try so hard to do the Christian life apart from abiding in the vine and how do you abide in the vine, through prayer. You abide in the vine through a constant connection to Christ. You abide in the vine by taking every single circumstance, stress, and burden of this life and immediately talking to God about it.
And not just venting to Him but actually asking and what would you have me do, Lord. So, for example, I have a temper, and having kids has definitely made that something that is harder [laughs] to control, but something that I have noticed is that with all things in the Christian life, the more you submit it to Christ and the more you allow God to work the fruits of His spirit in you especially self-control, the stronger your muscle of obedience grows. And so, my kids got to an age where suddenly they just started bickering, just bickering like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it’s pretty typical for that age I’ve learned since, but it’s not something that we want to cultivate in our home. So, we’re constantly correcting it, we’re constantly teaching through it, and it’s very emotionally triggering for me if you will, it’s overwhelming the noise, the discussion, the dealing with it so often can be very overwhelming, can make me very angry. And in those moments, I know I have a choice. I can deal with it in my own nature. I can just deal with it as I think I know best or I can walk like He has called me to walk, I can abide in the vine so that I can do something of eternal value with my children in that moment because apart from Him, I can do nothing. As Thessalonians says, “I need to pray without ceasing.” So, in that moment, I want to cease from praying because I want to yell, or I want to get angry, or I want to just deal with the issue and prayer seems like a really inconvenient thing to do in that moment. It seems really impractical but prayer is an action step and it is the best action step that I can take in that moment because it is like plugging into the power source for the fruits of the spirit.
Now, we always have the indwelling spirit with us. He’s always at work, but we have a choice and whether or not we submit to His leading and his power. And when we do not pray, we effectively cut ourselves off from what the Holy Spirit is attempting to do in our lives. Because we’ve ignored His voice, we’re not asking for His voice, we’re not seeking His voice, we’re not listening for His voice. So how can I receive the fullness of what He wants to do in my life if I will not pause and ask Him for his help. So, when I feel overwhelmed and angry in that moment, I must stop or take myself out of the room even for 30 seconds and ask the Lord for the power of the Holy Spirit abide in the vine, that he may bear much fruit through me, and that I have the strength to do something of eternal value. That is what prayer in an unceasing fashion can look like or maybe it’s anxiety. I went through a period of time earlier this year, some of it was physical that we later realized and were able to find supplements to help with but a lot of it was also just the pressures of leading, Every Woman a Theologian and different pressures our family was experiencing this summer. And I was struggling with a lot of anxiety like I had never experienced before.
And while we did find, you know the physical things that were contributing to it, I saw those bouts of anxiety as an opportunity for me to grow my prayer life. Because both Jesus and Paul said, “Cast your anxieties on Him, be anxious for nothing. Look at the lilies of the field.” They’re saying, when you are anxious when this happens, you have a choice to submit to the anxiety or to submit to what I want to give you in the middle of it. And so, I had a choice to let the enemy capitalize on that physical anxiety by adding on an element of spiritual anxiety and social anxiety, or to invite Christ in to overcome it. And that was a daily, hourly thing for quite some time and still sometimes is and that is praying unceasingly. It takes perseverance. It’s not easy sometimes I just want to be mad, sometimes I just want to worry, sometimes it actually feels good to do those things. And I have to remind myself that the truth of my feelings, that’s not trustworthy. The truth of God’s word is He’s told me what to do with anxiety and anger. He’s told me that I need to pray and that I cannot do anything of eternal value and true value with my life if I do not abide in Him, and so to abide or remain in Him to stay with Him, I have to pray.
As we conclude this episode, here are a few practical tips for prayer. I feel like I’ve given you some practical’s but I want to give a few more things that worked for me. If you find that you’re very easily distracted during prayer, two things that help me, one is to keep your planner or notepad nearby and as things pop in your head like, need to get groceries, need to fill the car up, etc. Write it down in that list, and then turn it over or push it away and move back to your focus prayer time. Another thing that helps me is to have a list of people I’m praying for people’s situations, I love Val Marie Paper’s Prayer Journals, I use them every six months, like at their six-month version, and I absolutely love them. Val also has a book called Pray Confidently and Consistently that’s excellent if you want more on this topic. Now, I don’t just pray down the list, I also write out my prayers. So, if you tend to be easily distracted when you pray, which I am, it may help to write out your prayers. As I’m praying in my head, I’m writing out what I’m praying. I’m literally just handwriting what I would be saying out loud. And this is the same as praying out loud, this is just as good as praying out loud, you’re just writing it out so that you can stay focused. This is also a great strategy for kinesthetic learners, which I also am. If you process information better by doing it, handwriting can be very helpful.
Now it slows you down a bit so you can do shorthand or you could do some handwritten and some out loud either way. But I find that handwriting my prayers is very helpful and then I can go back and read them if I want to read them. Another great strategy is actually praying out loud, because when you hear your voice, it helps you also stay focused and stay awake. So, I will pray out loud in the car, I will pray out loud over my kids, I’ll pray out loud even in those moments of anger and anxiety with my kids in front of me. Sometimes if I’m feeling very angry, I will pray out loud in front of them about what I am struggling with, not blaming them, but just praying about it.
Another practical thing that we’ve done in corporate prayer when I’m praying with other people, is writing out a short prayer on a notecard and reading it out loud. If you’re not comfortable praying with other people, that’s a great way to begin getting more confident because that’s something you want to really grow in, in corporate prayer. You can also pray what your requests are, if you’re with another person, pray out loud your personal requests, and they listen and agree with you in prayer. Then they pray back over what you just prayed out loud in their own words. That’s a great way to share requests without it devolving into distraction and then you’re doubly lifting it up to the Lord. Another thing a friend of mine taught me is prayer doodling. So, this could be another great method for your kinesthetic learners or those who are ADHD are easily distracted, you can take a piece of paper and begin drawing a picture and you draw different portions of it and as you draw a portion of your picture, you write the name of somebody that you’re praying for. Or the topic that you want to pray for and you pray for that person as long as you’re drawing that portion of the picture. Then you move to another portion of your picture and you write somebody else’s name or a different topic and you draw that portion. So, you can just keep going around your picture until you have completed it. And you have prayed over however many people you want to cover in prayer. So that was a new method to me, I thought it was so cool and so fun. You could also use a coloring book, kind of like Bible journaling and as you use a coloring book you could pray and write somebody’s name in that too. There’s a wide variety of ways to pray. I’m not at all covered all the different ways to pray. I love the book Prayer by Richard Foster, which talks about I think 50 different types of prayer and short chapters beautiful and inspiring to cultivate a prayer life that is very diverse and trying different types of prayer as well. I hope this was an encouragement to you and if you’re starting out and you’re like okay, “I don’t know where to begin. I know this is important. I know I need to do it. Where do I begin.” Just begin with the ACTS model of prayer, A-C-T-S, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I think that is a fantastic place to begin because when you have mastered that, not mastered it, but you’ve practiced it. You can then move on to a more intercessory prayer, you could move on to more spiritual disciplines, pairing fasting and prayer together, things like that. So, the ACTS model is a great place to begin as well as prayer journaling.
Thank you for listening as usual. I hope that this inspires you to look at what scripture says about prayer and to let it bring you closer to God. To see that prayer is not a checkbox, it’s actually your life source. It is your connection to God. It is your connection to the strength of the Christian life. It is how you will be able to Walk by the Spirit to hear God and to know God’s will for the decisions that you’re making. And I know that as you cultivate this discipline with perseverance, you will see what Jesus promised in John 15 because you will abide in the vine and by abiding in Him, you will bear much fruit.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity podcast. If you enjoy this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity, and about Every Woman a Theologian, as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s Word and the heart of Jesus Christ.
[Transcript provided by SpeechDocs Podcast Transcription]
Phylicia: Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer and I’m here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey because every woman is a theologian.
Hi friends, and welcome back to Verity podcast. I am thrilled to bring to you today 10 ways for you to integrate prayer into your daily life. This is a topic so many of us really need. I know I need it. I need to be thinking about how can I integrate prayer into my daily hourly existence? And so many of you have messaged me on Instagram and sent me emails to our Every Woman a Theologian inbox saying that you want to pray more, but you feel like it’s hard to make time for it. Hopefully by the end of this episode, you will see that making time for prayer isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, it can be a rhythm of your daily life, just like the habits that you have already in existence of making coffee in the morning, getting dressed, driving to work. These habits that we have because they’re necessary for life, are ingrained in us and prayer can be the exact same way.
There’s a verse by the Apostle Paul, it’s in 1 Thessalonians 5, where he says that “The will of God is for us to pray continually.” When I first memorized that verse in my teens, I remember thinking, how is it possible to pray continually? [laughs] Like, who can actually pray all the time unless you’re in a monastery, unless you’re a monk or a nun?. It is possible to pray continually when you think of it as a lifestyle of abiding in Christ, which is exactly what Jesus said we are to do. He said, “Abide in me and then you will bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” So, I would argue that if we want to prove that we are actually disciples of Jesus, we have to bear fruit. But to do that, we have to abide in Him, and to abide in Him, we have to pray continually. This is a practice I have been working on in the last few years. Especially, as our ministry grew, I just realized the absolute vital importance of being a person of prayer. You cannot run a ministry for Christ apart from prayer and connection to God. I would hope you wouldn’t do it, but people do. And it’s so easy to do because we can intellectualize our Christian life, we can intellectualize our walk with God to the point that we’re not actually talking with Him at all. We’re just memorizing verses and trying to apply them on our own strength, and that’s not what God has for us.
This is why Jesus said, “Abide in me.” Well, abiding is living in Him and to live in Him is to be in communication with Him. We’re going to look at some ideas for being a person of prayer, being a person who is continually praying throughout the day. I have 10 ways for you to do this, and I’m actually going to start with my favorite. All of them are great, but this is my favorite, and its prayer journaling. So, what’s prayer journaling? Well, it’s just what it sounds like. It’s writing out your prayers to God. It’s literally sharing your heart with God on paper. I’ve gotten some questions about this from people who are like, “Okay, but what do you actually do?” I honestly don’t know how to explain it any other way than what I just said. Like you’re writing out what you would say out loud. You’re writing it on paper. [laughs] When I share this, people often say, “Well, do you then need to say it again out loud?” And this really actually broke my heart because it made me think. People really believe that unless they do prayer in a certain formula, God doesn’t hear them and just it crushes me. That people could be thinking, “Oh, I have to do a certain formula of prayer or I have to say it out loud, and I have to say the magic word in Jesus’ name amen for God to hear me.”
That is not what we see in scripture. Prayer looks so many different ways in scripture, and this is just one of those ways. But what you’re saying out loud or in your mind is already perceived by God. So, writing it out isn’t going to make any difference. It’s just that it may help you focus more during your prayer time. That’s why I like it because I find that I can get distracted very easily. I can fall asleep and so instead of praying in my mind or even out loud, which is helpful, I will write out my prayers and kind of process it as I’m writing. So, prayer journaling is a great way to spend dedicated time in prayer, whether that’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 5 minutes, I try to do a couple of pages of a written prayer time a day.
The second suggestion I have is called prayer doodling and prayer doodling is, you’re probably laughing when you hear me say this, like, did Phylicia really suggest this? I first learned about this from my friend Diana, who I’m in a prayer group with and she showed me a picture of how to do it. Essentially, if you find that you focus better by drawing, as a lot of kinesthetic learners do, then this might be a good method for you. As you are in your prayer time, you can sit down and begin drawing a picture. Say, you decide you’re going to draw a forest or a nature scene. As you draw the trees, pray over a specific issue or person. As you then move to draw a stream or the grass, pray over something or someone else. For as long as you’re drawing that thing, you are focusing on that prayer topic. And then when you finish your drawing, you’re done praying. This can be a great way to dedicate specific time to your prayer habit while also engaging yourself physically.
The third suggestion for integrating prayer into your day is to write names of people you want to pray for in visible places. I actually love to do this with a dry erase marker. You can take a dry erase and write someone’s name or maybe it’s just a topic on the mirror in your bathroom. If you have a second bathroom, do a different one on that mirror. Write it on your window, write it on your car’s rear-view mirror. You can write these little names in these different places where you’ll be as you go about your day, and when you see that name, you are reminded to pray for them. A super easy quick way to keep that before your eyes. You could also do this method to write Bible verses you’re memorizing. You could use this method and use sticky notes instead so then you aren’t only writing on surfaces that can be written on, you could use sticky notes anywhere. So, this is a great way to integrate these little reminders, trigger points to pray throughout your day. Hey, remember, since prayer is not a formula where we’re trying to say the right thing to get God to do something, it’s an emotional and spiritual relationship. By seeing this in different places, it reminds us to pray even for 30 seconds. It doesn’t have to be a minute long, five minutes long for it to “work.” You’re just talking with God and bringing people before Him and entrusting them to the Holy Spirit. As we’ll talk about at the end, pray specifically because then your eyes are open to His answers.
The fourth suggestion I have is to set prayer alarms. So, I love to do this on my phone. I love to take my phone, go into the alarm app and set three alarms for the day. I set one at 09:00, one at noon, and one at 04:30. At each of these I have a different group of people I’m praying for. Typically, I have one set for my friends who are in Christian ministry, people who are kind of on the front lines of spiritual warfare, different people who are battling in different ways in the spiritual realm, who are fighting for people to know Christ. So, I have a section for them. My pastors would be included in that. People who are serving in my local church. I also have a timer set to remind me to pray for my friends who don’t follow Christ, who don’t have any interest in walking with God, so praying for those who I long to have a relationship with Jesus. And then the last alarm that I have set is for my friends, just people who I want to remember to keep before my eyes. And so, if you have a hard time remembering all of your friends that you’re praying for, I have quite a few and family members, I might make a list, my husband actually made me this nice list of my closest inner circle friends, and he assigned a name to each day of the month. That person is there for me to reach out to or to pray over, and I have their name for that specific day, and then it circles back around to that person, like 15 days later or whatever the rotation would be. So, setting prayer alarms can be a great way to remind yourself to pray.
The fifth suggestion I have is to pray in bed before you go to sleep. So oftentimes, if you’ve been busy throughout the day, maybe you didn’t start the day in prayer, maybe you haven’t been talking with the Lord a whole lot throughout the day. You can always start fresh the next day. But I also love to write as I’m falling asleep, as the lights are out, Josh and I will just really quickly hold hands and pray together. You can do this if you’re not married, you don’t need anybody to pray with, to pray right as you go to sleep. This can be a really great way to just go to sleep praying. Like, if you’re having a hard time falling asleep, praise to the Lord, use that time to just pray through any thoughts that are in your head. This was really helpful to me when I had postpartum anxiety after Ivan was born. I had really bad postpartum anxiety that my midwife thankfully was able to help me with and deal with the hormonal effects that I was facing. But I also dealt with it spiritually because we are physical and spiritual people, and we can never deal with physical things without addressing the spiritual. For me, I prayed Psalm 23 every night for a year. It got to the point where I would start to pray Psalm 23, and my body physically calmed down. The Lord truly used that psalm and that prayer to bring me so much peace as I would lay in bed at night. So, that’s a great habit to have as well.
A great resource I’ve been enjoying is a podcast called Compelled, and I think you’ll love listening to it. Compelled uses gripping immersive storytelling to bring Christian testimonies to life. On every episode, a guest shares their compelling story about how Christ completely transformed them. Listen to stories like Hannah Overton, a stay-at-home mom with five children who was falsely accused of murder and sentenced to life in prison. But instead of growing bitter, she chose to share the gospel with her fellow inmates or listen to Brian Birdwell, an army officer at the Pentagon, on the morning of 9/11 when a jetliner crashed just yards away and instantly engulfed him in flames, forcing him to reckon with eternity and God’s sovereignty. Or hear the testimony of Gracia Burnham, a missionary to the Philippines who was kidnapped by Muslim terrorists and held hostage for over a year. Yet realized Jesus was calling her to forgive her captors. Every story on Compelled, is true, vivid, and told by the person who lived it and saw God working through it. These are some of the most extraordinary testimonies. They’re not sensational or fantastical. They’re just honest and true and showcase the power of the great God we serve. I’m certain your faith will be strengthened just like mine as you listen. You can listen to all of these stories and more by searching for Compelled on your favorite podcast app or by visiting compelledpodcast.com again, that’s compelledpodcast.com.
The sixth suggestion is to pray before meals. Now, this might sound like a very basic suggestion. You might be thinking, “Yeah, I already do that.” In fact, I’m actually bad about remembering to do this. I forget very often. But praying before meals doesn’t need to be long or complicated. This is a habit that we’ve formed with our children. They actually remind us to pray over our food. They’ll say, “Hey, who wants to pray?” We encourage one another to take turns praying over our food. Keep it simple, but remember, all of our food, everything we have in our homes, everything that we have that’s provided for us is a gift of grace from God. He is the one who gives us these gifts. I was recently reading in Deuteronomy and it was talking about how Israel was about to enter the land of Canaan and be able to build wealth for their family. It says that in my Christian Standard Bible, they were about to go in and build wealth for their family. And God warned them, He said, “Remember that as you build this wealth, you are not the one who provided it. I gave you the ability to do this. I gave you the ability to gain wealth.” Whenever I look around my home, whenever I look around the provision that we have, it’s a reminder to me to pray in thanks for it, and meals are a great time to do that. So, I kind of already addressed this seventh suggestion, but I want to kind of go back around to it.
Turn anxious thoughts to prayers of faith, turn anxious thoughts to prayers of faith, there’s so much talk about anxiety right now, and I think that’s important because people are facing levels of anxiety like never before. Yet Christians, of all people, while we face anxiety like I have personally, not just postpartum, but in other seasons of my life. Even now, I have days where it’s even oppressive. I have to make a choice in that moment to either partner with anxiety, which is not what God wants or partner with Him in faith. Faith chooses to believe what it can’t see, but anxiety tries to tell us you have to see to believe. And so, a prayer of faith is directly warring against anxiety. For me, Psalm 23 was that prayer of faith when I was in the middle of postpartum anxiety because I was holding on to God’s provision. It’s God promises in that passage to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death.
Remember, it doesn’t say the valley of death, it’s the shadow of death. One commentator points out that as the shadow, it means that death itself isn’t actually threatening, you’re walking through its shadow and who is with you through that whole thing? Christ Jesus. When we pray in faith, we are reaffirming that we have faith in God’s will. So, we’re not forcing what we want into God. We are saying, “Your will be done and I trust that Your will is good.” If we look throughout scripture, we see that that’s the case. One thing that we know for sure, 1 Thessalonians 5, what does God say? “His will is my will for you to rejoice always and to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. “Those are three things you can know for sure are His will. So, if you can’t obey anything else, obey those three things. Those at least are His will for you. So, rejoice, give thanks, and pray continually. Those things are a choice even in the seasons of suffering that we walk through. Turn your anxious thoughts to prayers of faith and you will see a transformation. You will see something about how God moves. That is unbelievable. I’ve seen it even as I continue to have to face anxious thoughts and anxiety, especially circumstantial. You know running a ministry in the middle of 2023 when there’s inflation and banks failing in a potential war between Russia and China. Things like this are anxiety inducing. We have to learn to cast ourselves on Christ.
The 8th suggestion I have is to pray and fast with others at the same time, communal prayer. So, often we think of prayer as something we do on our own. It’s just me and God. But through scripture we see that the prayer of faith with many people praying together was extremely powerful. Now, the Bible also says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective on its own, so just one righteous person. But the context of that passage refers to groups of people praying over individuals. Groups of people praying together in the Holy Spirit inviting the Holy Spirit to move, is how we see massive cultural changes in the world’s history.
When you read church history, when you study movements of revival and awakenings, prayer always preceded it for 20-30 years before. We cannot say, “Oh, God’s just going to do what he’s going to do. And it doesn’t matter whether I pray.” No, God has chosen to do what He does through the prayers of His people and He is saying, I want you to pray. I’ve commanded you to pray because I want to move through the prayers of my people. When you do that, you will see Him move and your eyes will be open to the amazing things that God is doing. Pray with other people. Try praying once a week with a prayer partner. Text them and pray together, fast once a day a week. We’ve done all these things, but you can find a way that works for you. I meet once a week at 06:00 AM with a couple of friends, and we pray together over our marriage, our kids, our city, outreach, people in our lives who need the Lord. We have themed days of the month that we pray about those things. You can be so creative with this.
My ninth suggestion is to pray in adoration and worship, not just praying requests. Now, up to this point, I focused on praying requests. That is totally great. It’s awesome. God invites us to share with Him the things that we’re struggling with, the things that we are wanting to know more about, asking for His leading, praying for healing, all of those things absolutely should we share with the Lord. At the same time, we want to remember that if prayer is relationship, we should also be talking to Him and thanking Him for what he’s done, so our eyes are open to what he’s going to do, helping us to worship and adore who He is. I loved the ACTS model of prayer. It’s adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication or requests. While it’s not a rule, it’s not a formula, I love this idea of keeping adoration, confession, and Thanksgiving first and then getting to the requests. But you can do it any which way you want. Just keep adoration as a part of what you do and how you pray.
Last but definitely not least, pray specifically. I cannot say enough how important this is. When we moved into this farmhouse in the end of 2019, right before everything shut down in 2020, we had no idea what would happen to the housing market. We had no idea of any of that. Josh and I wanted to move out of town. We were living in our city. We wanted to move out of the city, and we knew we wanted to be in the country, but still close to the city. I had a broken leg at the time, and moving was not on our radar. But I happened to be sitting in my wheelchair, parked at the kitchen table, and was scrolling on my laptop and I thought, you know what? I’m just going to look on realtor.com. I don’t know why? I’m just going to do it. So, I did and what came up was this house, Willows Bend, the farm where we live now. Now, at that point, I was doing Every Woman a Theologian as a side ministry and watching my two young children, who were 3 and 1. I was not planning on running a full-time ministry. Josh was working full time. Obviously, I had a broken leg and an autoimmune disease. There was a lot going on and I did not have plans of us moving at that point and yet up popped this house on realtor.com. And I knew this house because I’d driven by it as a child and always thought it was so beautiful. So, I thought, what if we just went and looked at it? I asked Josh, we went and we looked at it.
We began to pray. Lord, we don’t feel like this is the best timing. We were about to go on a two-week vacation to Virginia, which is where Josh is originally from, and I thought, well, let’s just pray about it. We’ll just pray. If this is what God wants, we’ll pray about it and we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what God does. I won’t get into the whole story. If you want to see the whole story, I have a highlight on my Instagram called House Story that tells everything that happened. But essentially our specific prayers, specific, we needed a certain number to buy the house in order to afford it. We needed a certain time frame, 30 days. We needed a certain buyer for it to work. All of those specific prayers that we prayed fell into place, but before they fell into place, they all fell apart. And halfway through the month, it looked like nothing was going to work out and were just going to have to accept that God’s answer was no. And so, we again just prayed specifically and I to this day have the notes I wrote, the specific prayer requests that I had written down, the dates that needed to be met and the numbers that needed to happen for this to occur.
Praying specifically and saying, “God, this is what we need, but if it’s not your will, we will accept your answer as no, but this is what we need and this is what we’re to do.” And all of it fell into place and we moved into this house at the end of 2019. Right after that, the housing market exploded. What’s wild about this is the house, the farm where we live has three outbuildings. One has our animals in it, one is our garage, and one is an extra barn. The garage is a three-car garage with a workshop, and it had existing floor-to-ceiling shelves as well as a workbench that ran all the way around the third car portion of the garage. We had no idea at that point that in the middle of 2020, Josh would have to leave his job for reasons outside of our control, and he would come home to run the ministry with me. We had no idea that were going to be shipping out of that space. That we would need floor-to-ceiling storage, that we would need a workbench for all of our shipping supplies, that we would need to have that space for hosting Verity conference, that we would need to use this farm as a place for people to gather and to enjoy learning about God and loving one another. We did not know when we prayed specifically over our little dream of living in the country, but God did.
I want to share this story with you to say, pray specifically, no, it doesn’t always get answered the way we want. I also prayed specifically over my autoimmune disease for five years. For five years, I wasn’t healed until I was. Sometimes God doesn’t answer, or He doesn’t answer on our timing, but He does answer. Even when the answer is no or wait or you’ll see, He does answer. He’s trustworthy, because we don’t pray for what we get. If God had said no to the house, we could have still lived a fulfilling and called life at our little house downtown. We still could have been hospitable, as were already being in our 1100 square foot house. We didn’t need a bigger house in order to do what God had asked us to do. We were already doing that and then God happened to lead us to a different space. My point when it comes to praying specifically is not to goad God into listening. It’s not to force God’s hand or to be a formula, but to recognize. You can’t hide your heart’s desires from Him. You might as well tell Him. You might as well share it with Him. You might as well walk with Him through the places He’s leading you and learn to hear His voice, and learn to see what He’s doing.
People who do not pray do not see God move. People who do not pray cannot be shocked when they say, I never see God. I would even say your heart matters in how you pray. If you’re only ever praying to test God or only ever praying because you’re angry at God, you are welcome to share your heart’s feelings with Him. He’s big enough to handle that. But at the same time remember, if there is no recognition of His character or His trustworthiness, no faith in His goodness that he’s outlined for you in scripture, no looking back at how He was faithful to Israel, how He was faithful as the messiah. If there’s none of that, you’ll probably also miss His faithfulness in your life. You’ll probably also miss His faithfulness today. Pray specifically and if you don’t have the faith for it, ask Him to help your unbelief and to show you just how good He is, what He’s already doing, and to remind you of how He has acted on your behalf in the past.
These are 10 ways you can increase your daily consistency in prayer. Ten ways that you can point yourself towards a prayer life that is thriving and growing each day. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to say the right words, and it doesn’t only have to look like sitting on your knees by the bed praying in the way that we see in the picture books. We actually can pray as we’re going about our day, as we’re washing dishes, as we’re driving to work, as those anxious thoughts come, as you’re facing a difficult conversation, invite God into that because that’s exactly where He wants to be.