If you’ve followed my blog for long, you may remember that I choose a word for each year, and that this year my word is PRAY.
I choose a word and a supporting verse, with God’s help, and then allow God to speak to me, teach me and guide me throughout the year. This practice has been very powerful in my life so far. This is my fourth word of the year, and I’m definitely not the same person I was before that first year. God is more than ready to dive in and teach you, if you’re willing to let Him.
To help myself focus on prayer this year, I bought a Prayerful Planner. I just love the way there is a spot to record your prayers, offer praise to God and also keep track of your schedule. It also helps me invite God into my day, as I ask Him to walk with me through all of the events I have planned.
This system was working great until the middle of March. I think a lot of people would say the same. Things were going great this year, until COVID-19 invaded our lives.
What started out as a year to just focus on praying for my family, friends, church and myself, became a year of praying like never before.
Never have I so often felt like I don’t know what to even pray.
Instead, I have more recently found myself on my knees, burdened with sorrow and sadness for so many people in so many situations. I have cried for my children and the loss of the rest of their school year. As a former teacher, I really felt for them and all their teachers as their plans were shaken and as they scrambled to do their best in light of new territory.
I have worried for my grandparents and friends that have chronic illnesses. Add to those worries my friends who are nurses and doctors.
It would be so easy to spend all your time worrying, if you let yourself. But we all know that is no way to live.
Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us pray. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27, NIV).
In my times of trying to figure out what to prayer or how to pray when there are so many burdens, God’s spirit prays for us. Verse 27 further explains that He knows exactly how and what to pray because He knows the mind and the will of God. In other words, our prayers pack a powerful punch.
In late December, when I chose this word, I never thought I’d be praying for this, this virus, this isolation, this chaos. But God knew. And in God’s kingdom, there is no such thing as coincidences.
I knew when I chose pray as my word, that God was calling me to deeper prayer than ever before. The verse He gave me to claim was Colossians 4:2. “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Wow. I had no idea how much practice I was going to get at doing just that.
Friends, fellow believers, now more than ever, it is time to pray. Even if you don’t know how or what to say, the Spirit knows your heart. He will take over where you fall short. Be encouraged: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT).
We can and should pray for a cure for this virus. We should pray for a vaccine. We should pray for the safety and health of our loved ones and those fighting this virus like doctors and nurses.
But what if we also prayed like this? God, what do you want me to learn in this time of stillness? What can I do to make a difference in these crazy times? What are you teaching me about you, God?
Deeper prayer means praying like never before.
And what a good time to try it.