January 2, 2011

how to: pray more

the other night i was having my nightly chat with this wonderful guy named tyler. we were talking about christmas and plans for this next year when out of the blue he asked, "charissa, how's your prayer life?" it caught me totally off guard, and my immediate response was, "oh, it's great!"

and you'd think that after a 22-year-long career of being a preacher's daughter. after becoming the undefeated "fastest flipper" of my 2nd grade bible class. and after attempting to attend worship whenever the doors are open despite snow or stomach bug that my prayer life would be nothing short of stellar. but my prayer life? my prayer life is honestly nothing short of pathetic. horrid. embarrassing.

you'd think that someone who could virtually hold a conversation with a wall could carry brief conversations with GOD. but it's as if the moment i start praying the ADD child within me takes over. i'm supposed to pray continually, but there's nothing really regular or continuous about it, and it tends to disappear altogether when there's "nothing to pray about." sometimes i look up and realize that days or even weeks have passed by without a decent word with GOD. and i can truly empathize with the apostles when they sought to learn how to pray and fell asleep in the process.

the picture at the top of this post is one i took when i visited pompeii. it's a haunting thought, walking down the streets of the city, to realize that people were captured in their final moments, forever to be seen by those who visit. the following is a list of methods i want to implement daily in order to create my prayer life because i know that when disaster strikes or when JESUS returns, i want to be found in the same position as this man...on my knees.

how to: pray more

1) designate. i'm going to start designating my own, little special spot just for prayer. here in my house it's a little green chair in my bedroom. sometimes i'll sit in it. sometimes i'll kneel at it. but i won't leave it until i say what needs to be said.

2) list.
who can remember everything that needs to be prayed for, and who has time to pray for everything? i'm planning on trading my ADD with some good ole OCD and making a list of 10 things every week for which i specifically want to pray. i'll continually pray for those things in that time and concentrate on the few things i can actually handle.

3) eat. my family prays together before every meal, but sadly i have not carried this practice into my personal mealtime. but i'm finally putting my fork down and not even sneaking a bite before i thank GOD for all the many blessings HE'S brought me, including every "highly nutritious macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale" that might come my way. :)

4) bathe. whether it be just a shower or a watermelon bubble bath, the bathtub is most certainly a place of prayer. there's something about hot water that clears your thoughts and refreshes your spirit. i'm going to start cutting my celine dion power ballad medley a little short and replacing it with prayer time. the shower is a wonderful place for singing. an exceptional place for crying. and i figure an even better place for praying.

5) walk. unfortunately, i simply was not designed to be a runner. i support and appreciate these people who run the marathons and the half marathons, and i will gladly make them a sandwich when they finish. but no, GOD designed me to be a power walker, and i can power walk with the best of them. i read a book this summer about this woman who replaced listening to her ipod while walking with prayer. she'd walk her normal route in complete conversation with GOD, the true definition of power walking. tell me, who can beat increasing your prayer life while decreasing your waistline? no one. and there's certainly no shame in asking GOD to help speed up the waistline deduction process.

6) drive.
i simply love getting lost in joy...joy, arkansas that is. it's this tiny town full of little antique stores and lots and lots of grass. my friend megan and i like to hop into her little vw bug, roll down all the windows, and sing at the top of our lungs for joy. but this year i feel that joy is going to be the perfect place to get lost in prayer. i want to drive around admiring the grass and the cows while pouring my heart out to GOD in the middle of HIS marvelous creation.

7) pause.
i learned this one from my parents. whether they're passing an ambulance on the interstate or have just received a sad text from a friend, my parents stop everything and say a prayer for that person right then. it's so encouraging and amazing to see them use that very moment to make their requests known to GOD. i want to start stopping my life with the same important pauses.

8) rely. never has my prayer life been so strong as when i lived in italy. whether i simply wanted to find my hostel or desperately didn't want to get kicked off the train at midnight in croatia, i was keeping the phone lines pretty hot with prayers. and i saw GOD'S hand in what seemed like impossible situations. whether it be living in another country. or dealing with a really difficult person at work. or losing a loved one. or trying to pay back student loans. we all have our difficult situations and challenges in which the only answer is reliance on GOD. i'm going to try to seek out the situations that will make my reliance grow and focus on the challenges that will only refine my faith.

"rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is GOD'S will for you in CHRIST JESUS." 1 thessalonians 5:16-18

special thanks to: tyler perring


  1. This is great! I will be taking this to my first girls night bible study. I think this will be the perfect kick off. Man oh Man, YOU are amazing! I just LOVE it. In fact, I'm copying this as we speak, or rather as I type. :)

    Hope you are enjoying your break! Hopefully you have been able to spend time with the people you love most, sleep as late as you like and read WHATEVER your heart desires!

    -Marisa Lynn

  2. thank you so much, marisa! i'm so thankful that GOD is using our words to encourage each other. you have been such a blessing in my life since the day i met you! i can't wait to have even more great conversations this next semester. love you so!