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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Multi-Tasking Prayer

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. ~ Ephesians 3:16-19

A few weeks ago I found myself with some extra time. I had a few hours before I was scheduled to speak at an event in another city. Because I was in a hotel room, there was no laundry to do, errands to run, or chores to complete. I remember thinking how it would be great to spend some time in prayer. While I had dialogued with the Lord here and there, it had been a while since I had taken a chunk of time to spend dedicated to prayer. I piddled around the room, straightening things from my suitcase, and finally settled in on my knees. I felt distracted and wondered if I should answer emails since I had the benefit of Wi-Fi. After all, I could pray on the plane, but I couldn’t work on my laptop. My internal conversation revealed a battle against the discipline of prayer.

Thankfully I talked to myself instead of listening to myself. Even though my flesh didn’t want to pray, I knew my spirit desperately needed some focused time in God’s presence. I began praising God. I confessed sin and thanked Him for so many blessings in my life. Then I poured out my heart with personal requests as well as things for my family, friends, and the long list of concerns written in my journal. The closeness I felt with Jesus as I sat quietly and listened was priceless. There is an intimacy with Christ that only intentional prayer can bring.

So why do I fight spending time in prayer? Why don’t I want to do it? Why do other things seem to crowd out prayer so often? Every time I actually take the time to pray, I am blessed and so glad I did it. I can never remember regretting time spent with the Lord in prayer.

Is there any chance that you struggle alongside me? I’ve met many people who share my struggle to be disciplined in prayer. God tells us to pray. Jesus modeled it in His own life and even taught us in the Gospels how to do it. If I must battle how to spend the time when I’m alone with no distractions, the busy flow of the holidays only compounds the opposition to taking time to pray. Because of this, we must fight to make the time and attention to pray during the Christmas season.

Of course, we don’t have to be alone or on our knees to pray. We can talk to God while driving in the car, exercising, baking cookies, or really doing anything. However, there is a difference in the intensity of focus when we are multitasking and praying. I’d rather pray while doing other things than not pray at all, but I think we should persevere in finding some time to be still in prayer.

Jesus went out to a remote place to pray. Where is a quiet place where you could meet Jesus alone during the holiday season? In the movie War Room, the main character used a closet as a special place to meet with Jesus. Honestly, my living room rug is the location where I most frequently find myself on my knees or on my face with the Lord. As you reflect upon your prayer life, where do you pray most often? The place isn’t as important as the ritual itself, but having a special location to meet with Jesus can serve as a prayer reminder.

This holiday season, consider choosing a new location in your home for prayer. Is there a special chair, a closet, or a window seat that could be a place to celebrate the Savior’s birth in prayer? After you’ve selected a location, next you’ll need to set a time. We aren’t talking about carving out an hour each day. Maybe start with only five or ten minutes. By making the goal manageable, you’ll be more likely to keep the appointment. What if you set your alarm for ten minutes earlier and shared your morning coffee with Jesus? Perhaps you’re a night owl, and before you turn in at night, you’ll stop at your special location to praise, confess, thank, and ask!

Prayer is one of our most powerful ways to stay close to Jesus, and yet it is often neglected during the very holidays we set aside to remember His birth. As you think about one or two small changes you can make in your prayer life this season, consider these verses in Scripture regarding prayer: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16). “Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Lord, I love talking and listening to You in prayer, but sometimes I struggle to be disciplined in it. Help me to make time with You a priority. Teach me to pray. As I celebrate Your birth this month, I long to know You more. Show me where I can meet with You in a special place. Give me the discernment to see which time of day would be best to be still in Your presence. Help me to be dedicated in meeting You there. Lord, I want to know You and be a prayer warrior for others as well! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Excerpt taken from Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose. Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Spoelstra. Published by Abingdon Press.

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