Non-Negotiable #1: Prayer

prayerIn this series, we are looking at certain activities and undertakings that can not be sacrificed in our attempt to “find” more hours in the day.  During any given day, our time is consumed with so many things including ministry, family, work, chores, relationships, and more.  None of these things are bad, but they all take time.  When we are prioritizing all the things that must get done each day, these items must be placed at (or near) the top of the list.  Bold them.  Highlight them.  Write them in red ink.  Whatever it takes, you have to make sure that these items get done, or the remainder of your list will be rendered completely meaningless.

The first Non-Negotiable we’re going to discuss is prayer.  Every day should be bathed in prayer.  Frankly, every day should start with prayer, end with prayer, and be punctuated by times of prayer as often as possible.  Before we jump write in to talking about prayer though, I feel like I should be a little bit transparent with those of you reading this.  I chose prayer as the first non-negotiable, not because I feel like I have mastered it, but because I realize how far short I fall in this area.  All too often, I find myself praying something to the effect of:

God, please forgive me for not praying as often as I should.  I try to love you with all my heart and soul, but so often days slip by where I realize that I forgot to talk to you.  I am so grateful that you know my thoughts without me saying them, and that you know what my prayers would be even when I don’t express them.  Help me God to be more faithful in prayer.  Remind me to talk to you regularly and seek you constantly God.

No, prayer for me is not something that I am strong with.  It is something that a consistently rely upon God’s grace for, and an area where his work in me is far from completed.

God gives us every minute that we have, and it only makes sense that we would go back to him in prayer to find out how he wants us to use them.  Prayer is essential for our own spiritual journey and for our ministry.  Can you imagine a marriage where you go through the whole day and realize as you are drifting off to sleep that you forgot to talk to your spouse that day?  If that happened very often, I assure you that that relationship would not last for very long, and it certainly wouldn’t grow any deeper.  Fortunately for us, God tells us that he will never leave us, but when we fail to pray and communicate with him, it does impact the depth of our relationship with him.

If you’re interested in a little bible study, search for the word pray in the Bible.  My search of the ESV Bible turned up 320 verses from Genesis all the way to revelation.  One of my favorite verses, and the one the I use as my signature on many e-mails is Romans 12:12 –

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

“Be constant in prayer.”  The Bible really leaves no doubt about the importance of prayer in your life.

So, how do we make and keep prayer a “Non-Negotiable?”  I find that there are two things in particular that help me – routine and schedule.  First, I include prayer as part of my daily routine.  I pray with my kids each night before they go to bed.  Generally, I pray with each kid separately which affords me the opportunity to both model prayer for my kids and spend time with my Savior in prayer.  This routine, which started as a means of discipling my kids, has become a routine that ensures that I pray at least one time every day.  The second thing that I use is scheduled prayer time.  When I set aside a specific time each day and schedule time for prayer, I am must less likely to let that time go by without praying.  These may not work for you, but I implore you to find what does work and start doing it.  Prayer is essential to the ultimate success of everything you do.

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