I struggle with prayer at times.
I know it’s important to be specific. Sometimes. When it crosses the line of wanting to know too much and wanting to determine too many results, we get into trouble. Our interactions with God can become unhealthy and misguided. But sometimes a little bit of that is okay—when it gives us a reality check, when we decide to trust God a little more deeply, when it humbles us.
I don’t have it all figured out. I struggle with prayer at times, too. I want my prayer life to constantly be challenged in order to grow, because it reflects my relationship with God. And I want to encourage others in their prayer lives, because I know how essential it is. I know how grounding, correcting, and encouraging prayer is. I know the humility and authenticity it requires.
I receive prayer lists that are composed with good intentions, sharing a list of people within a church or ministry and (primarily) their personal health needs. It’s important to pray for each other. I’m not minimizing that. But it is one component of prayer. Let’s not confine ourselves and our relationship with God. Here’s what I sometimes want to add to those prayer lists:
- Pray beyond your circle. There are many needs in your community, the country, and the world. Learn what’s going on and who might be impacted. You might not know specifics, but the ripple effects of economic, political, and cultural struggles always have spiritual implications.
- Pray beyond your beliefs. It’s important to pray for people who believe and serve like you and your leaders, but we never know exactly where people are in their spiritual journeys. God is working in the lives of all the people he created. He has purpose and compassion. We need to trust him even in the situations and people we don’t understand.
- Pray in new spaces and new times. A prayer routine is beneficial. Our habits matter. But sometimes we need stretched. We can pray as we walk. We can praise as we work. We can refuse to compartmentalize our lives. We need to allow prayer to interrupt us. We need to notice and respond.
Pray consistently and pray creatively. Constantly be prepared to be challenged through prayer. God will constantly grow us through prayer. Let’s be willing.