Praying on all occasions
Jen shows us what praying on all occasions might look like for each of us. She gives us ideas for how we might train ourselves in this area.
Many of us know what praying on all occasions look like and many of our church family model it so well…and some of us might regularly get to the end of the day and think oh no I forgot to pray today. And there’s no condemnation in that, but this a weapon we have been given to use.
And most of us know that praying on all occasions doesn’t mean spending 24 hours a day on our knees in endless words. It’s about building a habit, a discipline, a lifestyle and an attitude of prayer in whatever way that looks like within the rhythm and routine of your life. It’s about cultivating that constant soul connection, that constant awareness that God is with us.
Praying about small things continually
Pete Greig sums this up when he says:
‘Your prayer life is at its best, not when you’re praying about big things occasionally but when you’re praying about small things continually; when your day is a living conversation with God’
In Philippians 4 – a verse where we are told to pray in every situation, we are reminded first…‘The Lord is near’. In fact we are reminded multiple times in the bible that God is near and that He is with us. And James 4 v8 says draw near to God and He will draw near to you. And that’s what I think this is about – drawing near, in our hearts on an hour by hour basis. In becoming more aware of his nearness, praying on all occasions, flows with an ease.
Obviously, there are times for spending extended periods in prayer, but this daily act can be very simple.
For me it’s like walking and doing life with a close friend – you can tell them what you’re thinking, how you feel, you know what they think, you can ask them for things because you have that relationship. They celebrate the good with you and when things get really bad you already know they’re there ready and willing to do anything for you.
Become intentional about prayer
There’s no magic formula, but it takes intentionality. We need to be intentional and we need to practice, in the every day.
One thing I find helpful is to develop my own reminders that become natural over time including gratitude. So when I am clearing up the girls clothes off the floor and turning them the right way out, again, I actually say thank you Jesus that the girls got themselves dressed on their own this morning and without complaining, and it prompts me to pray for their day at school. When I’m preparing dinner, I thank God for his provision in our lives and I pray for those that don’t have as much as we do. When paying the bills, I am thanking Him for our jobs and our salaries. When I’m outside, I’m grateful for the blue sky, or the fresh air, and it prompts me to pray for the world and the environment.
Practice thankfulness. Actively look for things to be thankful for.
Cultivating a praying lifestyle
Whatever it looks like for you, I am convinced that it is in cultivating this lifestyle of praying on all occasions that this is the training ground for the bigger battles of life. It is in cultivating this lifestyle of walking closely with God on a daily basis that makes us strong for the fight. It is a daily battle to do this, and there’s also an ongoing battle for our minds.
The daily training ground can be quite mundane and repetitive in our normal every day. But this is what athletes and indeed soldiers do. They go to the training ground day in day out. They do the same drills over and over, so that when the day of the big event comes, they are ready. That daily battle, the daily walk is the time to get fit, the time to practice; the training ground for when the big battles, the big storms come.
When the storm comes
I believe that when, as a family, we faced our biggest battle, one of the reasons I got through it was because over the years I have tried to cultivate a lifestyle of this constant awareness of and connection with God. Praying at all times, so that when the battle came, I knew how to fight.
In those initial dark moments, if I’m completely honest, I didn’t actually pray very much myself – as in ‘normal’ prayers with words, because I often had no words. But I knew that my soul was still deeply connected to God in every moment, every thought was a prayer, every time I updated people, it was a prayer. Every groan, every tear was a prayer.
This is when the Spirit intercedes for us. Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.
And this even happens on a normal day – sometimes there’ll be moments, where we may feel something we don’t understand, a sadness or an unsettled feeling; in that moment, we can give it to God, direct our souls to Him and the Spirit groans when we don’t understand.
Keep alert with all perseverance
Paul follows on from praying on all occasions with a warning to be alert. The daily battle is for our minds and for our attention – and that is one reason I think, we are told to be alert – because there is so much to distract us from praying on all occasions.
We need to be alert to what is going on around us in the spiritual realm, in our lives, other people’s lives and to what God is doing, so that, as it says in verse 18 so we can be alert and always keep on praying for all God’s people.
A consistent friendship with God
We need a consistent friendship with God. We need to pray with the assistance and influence of the Spirit. Through friendship and through knowing Him and knowing the truth, we pray in the Spirit, and we cultivate a lifestyle of praying on all occasions.
Thank you Jen
You may like to listen to the talk by Tom & Jen on praying on all occasions: Weapons of the Spirit