New Year…Fresh Start – Pray More

Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Common English Bible).

“Preacher, how can I pray continually? I mean really, I have to work and I have to sleep and there are 10,000 other things I have to do each day. I do good to find time to pray when I get up in the morning and before I eat. I just don’t see how it is possible to pray without ceasing.”

These were words from a church member following a sermon where I mentioned that we are called to pray without ceasing. It wasn’t a new question. I had heard it before on several different occasions. I know it is a concern for many because first, they ask the question and second, there are many who make this a New Year’s Resolution each year.

It isn’t really an easy question to answer except I think we sometimes have the wrong idea about what prayer actually is. All too often we think of prayer as eyes closed, head bowed, not to be interrupted until we say “Amen.” It really isn’t a bad thought except, while it is OK to pray these kind of prayers, it isn’t the kind of prayer of which our Scripture passage speaks.

 I believe what Paul is speaking of here is being in a constant attitude of prayer. Being ready to pray on the spur of the moment when we see something where there is a real need for prayer. In his Workbook on Intercessory Prayer, Dr. Maxie Dunnam speaks of what he calls breath prayers. These are prayers we pray when we see an instant need. When we see an ambulance on the road to pray for all inside, the paramedics and the victims. Or, we pray for firefighters when we see them headed to an emergency or perhaps even when we drive by a fire station. The same for police officers and the military when they come to the front our our consciousness.

Another thing, I know I get a lot of “Please pray for me pastor…” or “Please pray for my cousin…” One thing I have learned, first I need to write those requests down or they will be gone before I begin to pray. The second thing I have learned is, to stop then and pray for the request. When I fail to do so, I probably will fail to pray for the request at all. I think it is part of praying continuously.

I also think praying in more non-traditional ways can be effective in helping us pray more. Many of you know of my habit of tying prayer ropes. As I tie the ropes I pray for the person who will receive the rope. Sometimes I know who that is, sometimes I don’t. I also use the prayer rope, praying the Jesus Prayer, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Sometimes the prayer will take on other forms too.

These ways that are less traditional, particularly for we Protestants could include praying a rosary (either Catholic or Anglican) or praying the way around a string of beads using the A.C.T.S. prayer form where A=Adoration, C=Confession, T=Thanksgiving and S=Supplication. You can use this form even without beads, to begin by praying what you love about God, the things you need to confess to God, the things for which you are thankful, and the things to meet your needs.

If you are wanting to pray more as your New Years Resolution, you are really only limited by your own imagination. We pray through writing in journals, by meditation, by enjoying nature and much more. If you want to pray continually, you will find a way.

How do you pray continually?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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