Cultivating a Lifestyle of Prayer
The familiar ring alerted me that a text message awaited me. Opening my phone, I read an update from a colleague. The news was good but required immediate prayer. Running out the back door, I searched for my husband. I wanted to share the information with him and ask that we stop everything and pray about the situation. Searching the backyard, I found him in our greenhouse—a place designed to shelter plants from the cold and allow them to grow in the bleak winter days.
Standing in the greenhouse, surrounded by seed, soil, shovels, and pots—all the elements that make a garden, I shared the news with Justin and asked him if we could pray. Pray we did. We called on the Lord, offered thanksgiving, and asked for God’s perfect will to be done in this situation.
That prayer felt like a seed, dropped in the soil of Heaven, which we will hopefully see the fruit of down the road.
Looking around the greenhouse after we said our “amens,” I saw before me the cultivation process. To cultivate means preparing or developing the land for future growth and harvest. My husband desires a family garden that provides fruits and vegetables throughout the year. But to achieve that goal, there must be work done. One doesn’t just wake up with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer. September’s squash won’t just magically appear. The groundwork for the harvest happens in the cold months of December, January, and February. A garden is cultivated, little by little, over time and requires tending the soil before the seeds are placed in the earth.
Cultivate is my word for this year. Just as a garden requires planning and development, so do our lives. It’s great to set goals, but achieving those lofty plans occurs in the daily and unseen moments where we choose to do the work that leads to the harvest.
One area I sense the Lord leading me to cultivate is a lifestyle of prayer. While I know the benefits of praying, and I could preach a decent sermon about its power, I still want to develop a lifestyle of prayer that plants seeds of faith that reap a future harvest. That harvest may be seen in my children, or my ministry, or my marriage, but there is one thing I know for sure…”We have not because we ask not!”
As with a garden, or any area we desire to cultivate, we require the proper motivation and a clear action plan.
Motivation for Prayer
Throughout the Gospels, we see the priority Jesus placed on prayer. For example, Mark 1:38 says, “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and slipped out to a solitary place to pray.” From this habit, Jesus was empowered and equipped to do His Father’s will.
This proves our motivation. Christ is not only our Savior; He is our example. We see that Jesus cultivated a lifestyle of prayer, and as a result, He experienced a great harvest! In His teachings on prayer, Jesus gives us ample motivation for the practice:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
Prayer, as modeled and taught by Jesus, tunes our hearts to the frequency of Heaven and showers our lives with good gifts that come from our Good Father. Just as a cultivated garden has proper motivation, it also has a clear action plan.
Here is my action plan for a lifestyle of prayer:
- Seek Him First. To cultivate a lifestyle of prayer, it must be a priority. As a mom of three and with all the demands of work and taking care of my home, I’ve learned I must devote the first of my day to meeting with God, or otherwise, that time will get gobbled up by other things. This means I must prioritize my day to get up early, giving myself ample time to sit with the Lord and be in His Presence.
- Get Rid of Distractions. One vital thing I noticed about Jesus’ prayer life was His habit of withdrawing alone to meet with His Father. The same proves critical for us. We live in an age of distraction: phones buzz, televisions blare endless news cycle, and if you’re anything like me, the call of the laundry, dishes and cluttered family room are also loud distractions. Therefore, I have a space designated for my prayer time. I shut the door and silence my electronic distractions in this space.
- Posture is Important: There is something about the posture of prayer that helps our hearts and minds engage rightly. For me, I pray best on my knees. While this is not a legalistic rule, I encourage you to try it if you are physically able. When we bow before God in prayer, it humbles us. It reminds us that we draw near to the throne of God Almighty, who is worthy of worship and adoration.
- Use a Prayer Guide. Over the years, I’ve used several different models for prayer. I am a writer but nature, so I love to journal my prayers. But lately, I have enjoyed using Face to Face by Kenneth Boa. This guide structures your prayer time around Adoration, Confession, Supplication, Thanksgiving. Face to Face gives specific scriptures to pray for each section or meditate upon as you meet with God.
Cultivating a lifestyle of prayer means choosing to seek the Lord, day by day and moment by moment. Prayer is not just for emergencies. It is the fuel for our daily living. As Corrie ten Boom famously asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Prayer must be the first plan of action, not the last resort. When we intentionally structure our lives to meet with the Lord, bringing our needs and desires to Him, we plant seeds that bear fruit for the generations to come.
by Marian Jordan Ellis, copyright 2022