Lyn Cosby, the staff representative for the Adult Discipleship Team, shares some thoughts for the National Day of Prayer. The Adult Discipleship Team is the group that offers the Pray Together podcast. The podcast is available on iTunes (Pray Together UMCNA) or www.prayingtogether.podbean.com
Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States.
The National Day of Prayer, according to Wikipedia.com, is “… an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked ‘to turn to God in prayer and meditation’."
For committed followers of Jesus Christ, every day is a day of prayer. The North Alabama Conference Adult Discipleship Team started a Pray Together podcast this year, with a new post each week that offers information on a prayer practice or focus with the intention of deepening the prayer life of United Methodists in our Conference. You can subscribe to Pray Together UMCNA on iTunes, or listen at www.prayingtogether.podbean.com.
This year, on the National Day of Prayer, I’d like to share some ideas and resources to make everyday prayer something in which we all take part. Some of these ideas have been addressed in the podcast, so check it out for an expanded view.
Make prayer the first order of the day. I’m a morning person. I wake up ready to get going. To help me remember to pray before diving into my to-do list, I keep a set of prayer beads on my bedside table. When I wake up, the prayer beads are one of the first things I see. It reminds me to quiet my active mind and give time to talk and listen to God to set the tone for my day.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. —Psalm 5:3
Pray throughout the day. Consider your thoughts, dreams, ideas and even your annoyances and frustrations as prayer. After all, God hears those in addition to the times we stop to pray intentionally. Condition yourself to put aside thoughts that don’t honor your position as a Christ follower, so that your prayers will be pleasing to God.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Use prayer prompts. To work toward praying without ceasing, consider using prompts. When you hear an ambulance's siren or drive by a hospital, for example, pray for the patients and those who are caring for them. A school bus can prompt you to pray for teachers, administrators and students. I once had a pastor who asked the congregation to buy colored stickers, place them around our homes, and pray for the church whenever we saw one. Create your own prayer prompts based on your personal concerns.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.—Deuteronomy 6:8-9
Participate in a prayer group. Giving time to talk and listen to God in solitude is important, and so is prayer time shared with others. Form a group within your congregation or group of faith friends who will commit to meet for prayer at a specified time and place each week. I am in a group of three friends who meet to pray after work every Tuesday. Since we have been sheltering at home, we have a weekly Google Meet at the same time. We pray for personal, congregational and even world concerns—from sick pets to global pandemics. We are committed to sharing our burdens and practicing discretion.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.—Matthew 18:19-20
Sometimes it’s hard to pray. Sometimes we experience grief or fear that leaves us unable to come up with the words to express those emotions. Scripture tells us to cry out to the Holy Spirit at these times. I find it also helps to remember that we are not alone in this experience, and can turn to spiritual mothers and fathers gifted in writing prayers. Use a Book of Common Prayer or daily devotional for inspiration. Read the prayers of others aloud to help you find your voice.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.—Romans 8:26
Will you consider a new prayer practice, or commit to a deeper prayer life? It would be a great way to celebrate the 2020 National Day of Prayer.