So much has been going on lately that I have hardly had a chance to tell you about She Speaks. I know I talked about meeting other bloggers and doing my speaking thang, but there was so much more to She Speaks than that. If you don’t already know about it, She Speaks is a conference run by Proverbs31 Ministries with the purpose of equipping women for Christian ministry. There are sessions for writers, speakers, women’s ministry leaders, and bloggers. And while there is certainly a very practical side to the conference, there is also a spiritual dimension as well.
I have to admit, I wasn’t really in a spiritual mindset going in. I had just returned from a trip to Boston, and I spent my entire plane ride to Charlotte preparing my presentation. When I arrived, I was focused on meeting new friends and reuniting with the old. I never really stopped to prepare my heart and mind for what God might have me learn from the weekend.
And in all honestly, my life is usually like that. I’m always flitting from laundry to blog topics to dirty dishes to what’s for dinner to what kind of milk to buy for our family to blog design ideas to answering emails to meeting the needs of my kids. My mind is usually going 100 mph from the time I get up to the time I lay my head on my pillow. I like it like that. I like being busy. I like the constant interaction. I love telling stories and designing blogs. I like cooking for my family. I don’t care so much for the laundry and the dishes, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But I know that I do not enough take the time to enjoy the Source of all these wonderful things. I guess I keep figuring I’ll make time tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.
The first night of the She Speaks conference always begins with dinner and music and an address by the lovely and inspiring Lysa TerKeurst, but first she introduces her Proverbs 31 team. As “We Are Family” played over the loud speaker and the Proverbs 31 ladies jigged their way into the stage to be introduced, I found myself thinking, “What do I want to get out of this weekend? I really want to be a woman of prayer.” This contemplation was totally out of the blue. There had been no scripture reading, no sermon, no challenge yet, but somehow I was convicted of my need to spend more time in prayer.
After the team was introduced and before Lysa took the stage for her address, a video began to play on the large screen on the wall over my head. I wish I could find it on YouTube or somewhere. (If you were at She Speaks and you know where to find the video online, please let me know!) There were sounds of a loud clock ticking faster, faster, faster while words on the screen reported how much time the average American spends in his or her lifetime eating, watching TV, driving a car, etc. You can imagine how many weeks or our lifetimes we spend on each of those activities. Then at the end, it reported the amount of time the average American spends in prayer. As you can imagine, it was trifling compared to the time we spend on other activities. There were no words and no lecture, just the visual of the statistics on the screen and the sound of a clock ticking out of control as the video played.
Then Lysa came out and started talking to us in her typical charming, down-to-earth way. The subject was discipline, and the challenge was about spending more time with Jesus. The part that really stuck out to me was the discipline part. I thought to myself, I make time for the dishes, I make time for my kids, I make time for blogging, I make time for the groceries, I make time for the laundry, I make time for the TV, and sometimes I even make time for exercise, although I loathe it. I wake up in the morning and plan ways to juggle my schedule so that I have time to fit all of these activities into my day, but prayer always takes the back seat.
Sure, I talk to God throughout the day, as circumstances inspire me, some days more than others, but all too often I find myself putting God on hold. It’s like when you are talking to someone on the phone and your call waiting beeps in and you tell them to hold on while you put someone else first. And then you know how THAT goes. Half the time you forget to go back and resume the original call. I do this to God. Every. day.
But here’s the awesome thing. Unlike the friend on the other line that eventually gives up and disconnects the call, God never does that. He is there whether we seek Him or not. He knows everything on our hearts and minds. He knows what tomorrow is going to bring before morning dawns. I am only shortchanging myself by neglecting Him.
If prayer is food for the soul, then it stands to reason that without it, our souls are malnourished. It just occurred to me that if I spend hours reading books and websites on nutrition and flitting around to various markets to nourish my body with fresh, wholesome, local foods, then isn’t it just as important to feed my soul? And the overwhelming irony of the situation is, my body will not last forever, but my soul will live on into eternity.
So I’ve been reflecting on my daily routine, trying to figure out when I should set aside a time to pray that will be practical for my busy mom schedule. I think that like anything else that tends to get pushed out of the way (exercise, ahem) the best time to do it is in the morning, before my day is in full swing. The problem is, I can rarely beat my kids out of bed. Someone is always up, and usually it’s the 3-year-old, my most needy and least understanding. At night, I’m fried. And during the day? Forgetaboutit.
Ladies who pray, when do you make time? Do you set aside a specific time? Or do you just pray as the spirit moves you throughout the day, in the midst of the hubub of life? Help me out here.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader comment, I discovered this beautiful, convicting, encouraging post called Prayer: Why We Struggle (and how not to) on Holy Experience. It’s a must read for anyone who struggles to make time for prayer.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
42 thoughts on “She Prays?”
Jo-Lynne, I love this post. I don’t have an answer for you, as I have not had a consistent quiet time in my day for much longer than I’m comfortable admitting. I talk to God throughout the day, but as for a time set aside for Him? I am sad to say it doesn’t happen. But I will say this: I want to be a woman of prayer, too…
This is a struggle with me too–sometimes my prayer life is more constant and active–other times not so much. I am learning though that the more I do it the more I want to do it and more willing to make time for it(DUH).
I think it’s different for each person and for each person’s season in life. God just wants you to talk to Him, as often as possible, even in short snippets throughout the day. I also think it’s important to let the kids know & see us make time to pray and read His word so they know we walk the talk.
Don’t feel like you have to carve out a huge chunk of time–that might be hard to do every day and then it would be too easy to feel defeated (which is what Satan wants). Start small and I bet God will work to grow it. 🙂
Wow, you really hit me between the eyes with this post. My prayer life has gone down the tubes, but I agree with Holly — take baby steps to get it back. You go to the bathroom during the day, right? Keep your Bible in there. Every time you go in, pick it up and read a scripture. I don’t know about you, but reading scripture draws me to the Lord and makes me want to commune with him. Take a few minutes extra in the bathroom, and see if you can grow it. Ask for His help. I don’t have kids at home any more, but, believe it or not it was easier for me then — that’s when I had a vibrant prayer life. Now that I’m retired, I seem to have less time. Point: It’s never going to get easier. The time to do something is now.
Great post! Prayer and Bible study go hand in hand with me. I found when my kids were younger after they went to bed was when I could focus on my relationship with God the best. I had to stop watching TV and being on the computer at night to get that done…discipline, I think you said, is key. Prayer is something I do continually throughout the day, but I love to take time to sit and be still–talk and listen to my Father. For the last year I have been journaling prayers. Now my kids are older, and I can go into my room and have that time alone. My favorite time now is right when I wake up. The kids know what I am doing and leave me alone The desire, which you have, will get you to the place of action. Once you start, you will not want to stop!
GREAT POST! I have been praying a lot lately, as you know. Unfortunately its been because of circumstances and not just to make the time to pray.
As odd as it may sound, I usually pray on my drive to work. I’ve got 50 minutes in the car where I can clear my head and pray and I have to say, it does help me get through my day. On the days where I work from home, I don’t get that time and I do miss it.
Thanks for such an inspiring post. Its so what I needed today!
Kim, I used to pray a lot in the car too! I guess I still do, on the rare occasions I’m there alone.
thanks for reminding me how important it is to feed the soul! I’m crazy busy like a lot of women out there but I definitely know that I can dedicate more time for prayer because like you said “I am only shortchanging myself by neglecting Him.” Beautiful post!
I’m just like the rest… it’s hard! I have the desire, but I fail at the commitment over and over again! What perfect timing for all of us (must be GOD!), today I stumbled upon “A Holy Experience” http://www.aholyexperience.com/ and has some awesome ideas to share!!! May we all be blessed by it!
I don’t pray nearly as often as I need to, but I do try and pray when I talk my daily walk. Physical exercise and spiritual exercise together!
I wish I had it all together — I guess one day when I arrive in my heavenly home, I will! One thing that I think is helpful is to never get out of bed before spending a few minutes in prayer. Sometimes my kids look in and see me just laying there, but now they know that mommy is praying and will be down shortly. Grandma told us before we rise, to put our hand in His each morning, and ask Him what He would have us do. It’s advice I’ve taken to heart.
And the overwhelming irony of the situation is, my body will not last forever, but my soul will live on into eternity.
Wow – this quote really spoke to me. Great post.
Kristin, that’s a good idea. I like your Grandma’s sentiment.
I also like what you say (and Holly’s point) about teaching the kids about what we’re doing and to respect Mom’s time of prayer.
Great post! I’m a morning person, so getting up early works for me. My son, however, is also a morning person. He just turned 4, so every morning since he was about 2, him and I get up about the same time. I get him juice and dry cereal and put him downstairs to watch tv. Hey, it’s not ideal, but it works most of the time. He knows I sit in my chair with my Bible and my journal and have “quiet time,” and most of his requests will be fulfilled after he lets me get a little prayer time in. The days I do not do this, I find my heart just not in the best place. Or I tend to go without it on the weekends, and realize it is SO easy to let it slip. As I’ve spent more time with Him, my desire for Him has grown, and I get hooked back in and make it routine again.
I have to do it really early. If I don’t it’s just like you said, it’s not gonna happen.
My husband and I were getting up early to exercise, and he began getting up a half-hour earlier to pray first. Initially I thought he was insane. That would be 5 a.m. (His feet actually hit the floor at 4:50.) But, after a few days, I really felt convicted for staying in bed. So, I wait until 5 (there is something just really wrong if your feet touch the floor when a “4” is still showing on the clock). Then, I immediately proceed to the coffee pot. The first 10 minutes are the worst. But after that, it’s really not that bad. I’ve grown to really enjoy that time alone with God.
The only key is that you need to get to bed no later than 11 p.m. Otherwise, you’ll be dragging all day long. 🙂
Michelle, I love how you and your husband do this at the same time. I bet that’s a huge encouragement and accountability.
This post totally speaks to me! The last month or so I’ve changed things up a bit and seem to have found what works for me. Let me start by saying that I am not a morning person, but if I don’t do my quiet time in the morning it simply doesn’t get done. I walk with my neighbor at 6:30 every morning. For a while I was waking up at 6 rushing through my quiet time, getting dressed and out the door. I decided that I needed get up at 5:30 AM and start then.
Mind you- there are days when I’m still half asleep and groggy, but I still do it Mon-Fri. My days just go to much better when I’m up and at ’em before my kids are. They usually wake up while I’m out walking and are old enough (6,4, 3) and independent enough to wait and watch tv or have computer time while their dad showers and I’m walking. If my youngest was any younger we’d have to find some other way, but this is what is working for me and I wanted to share.
I know that 5:30 sounds early- and it is, but God has really used the time to bless my time with him and my committment.
I thought that I’d add that I actually moved my coffee pot into my bedroom and pre-programmed it to wake me up instead of my alarm. It’s a little ghetto, but hey- it works :).
I feel like I always have a prayer in my heart throughout the day, even if it’s just about little things I feel I need help doing or things I’m so grateful for.
The best way I have made time for it is before bed. If I’m having trouble sleeping, I pray. It’s so calming!
I have friends who are very disciplined about devotions and prayer time. Boxing myself into a schedule like that has the same effect on me as beginning a diet: I revolt. And then I feel guilty. So I decided years ago to stop trying to be somebody else. I conduct my prayer time as I go through the day, and I prefer to think of it as a conversation b/t me and God. This works well for me. And I spend time in the Word in huge chunks, and then sometimes do much less. I also like the idea of praying in bed before rising; I pray in bed each night before going to sleep. It’s a good habit.
Hello fellow she speaks gal! Went to that conference last summer. Nice to meet a friend of God who has been called to write.
Throughout the day I pray little prayers. Especially if I need help with the kids. At night every night like a little kid I pray before bed longer prayers. It feels good to me to talk to God before I go to sleep cause no one is guarenteed another day.
Well, between you and Ann, I got me a double helping of much-needed conviction (and encouragement) today. Wow. Thank you for honestly sharing.
Your thoughts echo what I’ve been struggling with lately. I’m so guilty of pushing my spiritual life to the back burner just to keep up with the “important” day to day stuff. I’m going to read the link you suggest…
I do both. I have found it important both to set time aside and to offer all of the little moments to the Lord. It seems to me that if we are to “pray without ceasing,” then we must do this. Still, we do well to remember that the Lord speaks in the quiet of the breeze as well.
We make time in our lives for people whom we deem important. Jesus Christ is a man with a heart like ours, who desires to hear from and speak to his beloved. He can never be outdone in generosity, so the time that you set aside for prayer will be rewarded in His own creative ways.
First of all, thank you for this post. I have been struggling for years with how to have a better prayer life. I think I struggle with how to talk to God when you can’t see Him there and He doesn’t literally talk back, plus He already knows everything you want to tell Him. I’ve found that I “pray” best when I sit down with my journal and write out my prayers. It keeps me focused and helps me to put into words what is going on in my heart. I also have little reminders throughout my day to help me remember to “pray without ceasing”: a siren causes me to pause and pray for those in need of help and those rushing to the scene, a church bell reminds me to pray for those preparing to teach God’s Word, etc. I need more “little reminders” like these… I saw a missionary’s prayer card that simply said: “You looked, now would you pray?” (or something to that effect)… if only we’d pray every time we looked!
Thank you SO much for writing on this topic. This is something I’ve been convicted of more recently also. My thought on this is we usually do the things we enjoy and like (or make us feel good) and we put off the things we dread. Okay. At least I do! HA! My desire would be that I don’t dread spending time with my Creator. I’ve recently found that as I make time, even if it’s only 5 minutes, after a week or so I couldn’t wait for that prayer time. And believe me I don’t get to it everyday. Especially on the weekends. But during the week, whenever I remember . . .I needed it. I craved it. And I didn’t want to go another minute in my day without sitting in my chair, and crying (sometimes literally) to God. My desire would be that I miss talking to God as much as I miss texting my friends, talking on the phone to my family or sitting at the dinner table with my husband. And of course, He knows that we are all a work in progress.
Great post, Jo-Lynne. I am so glad to hear that She Speaks had this impact on you. While I missed the practical side of that conference this year, I must admit I really longed to hear from God like I did last year while I was there. I can still remember my a-ha moment.
I think this is a challenge for most busy moms. It comes up ALL the time in my circles.
I’ve come to a couple conclusions about my own time with God each day.
I do relish and look forward to reading my bible and spending time in prayer every morning – usually right after my kids get on the bus. My coffee, my chair and my bible= good start to the day. If I don’t get that morning time, I try to read a devotion later in the day. I honestly pray a lot during the day and listen to a lot of contemporary worship music throughout the day. And I journal a lot about what I’m thankful for and how I see God growing me and others in my life.
You know, I just think that God wants us to worship him all the time, to talk to him very often and I think we try way too hard to make this time fit into a little box first thing in the morning instead of just making him a part of every single thing we do throughout our day.
It’s the best way for me to start my day but I don’t think God would want me to to run around feeling guilty if I miss a morning or two either.
He knows our heart.
I have always struggled with prayer. I would beat myself up because I didn’t set aside enough time to do it or specific times to do it. As a mom with young kids I have started to just pray throughout my day. I do try to start and end my day with prayer, but the most meaningful prayers I have are in the midst of the craziness of my everyday life.
I hate that we didn’t get that much time to spend together talking this year! I was convicted to start back with my quiet time. After I take Doodle to school (she’s got to be there at 9), I come back and write in my journal. The journal I keep is basically my prayers to God for that day. I just write whatever comes to mind. I find it helps me concentrate a little better if I hand write it.
I make it a point to do this before getting sucked into Twitter, email or chats. At least I’ve made a point of doing it since I got back home from She Speaks 🙂 I do pray throughout the day as I think you can talk to God anytime, but the morning time is my foundation.
What about the shower? I usually get 15-20 minutes of quiet time in there and use it to pray as well as other short bursts throughout the day. Hubby and I are trying to do a couples devotional which has been great but we are not good at doing it daily as we should.
I do not pray as such and wouldn’t even call it that. However every morning I make sure I say a thank you for a beautiful sleep and this new day. When I see a beautiful tree, I just for a second see the beauty. When I hear a bird sing, I listen and when we eat we say thanks for the food.
Prayer for me is enjoying daily life and seeing the beauty of God’s creation.
Prayer for me is being love in action.
What more is there to do?
Wilma, you ask a really good question. I believe there IS more to do, although enjoying life and being appreciative for every morning we wake up to a new day is certainly appropriate. Beyond that, it’s really about cultivating a relationship with the God of creation, which comes through Bible reading, confession of sin, and communion with Him in prayer and meditation on His Word.
I regret that want to know Him better and that I too often put my own agenda ahead of spending time with Him. It’s not a matter of being hard on myself and feeling guilty. It’s the humbling realization that the God of the universe loves me and hears my prayers and I don’t even make time for Him.
I love your focus on seeing every wonderful thing as a gift form Him and being mindful of that throughout the day. I do the same thing many times, but probably not often enough. 🙂
Over the past few weeks, I too have been thinking a lot about prayer. I love spending time in prayer. I did TONS of it when I was pregnant, and not just about the then upcoming addition to our family. And it felt great.
I know I’m missing it in my life now. And I know it’s a matter of self-discipline. I think God is pretty good at gently guiding me to where He wants me to be and I think I have a good opportunity coming up to get prayer back in my weekly routine.
I recently was given the opportunity to babysit two days a week for a friend of mine’s eight month old. I was SO excited, because it meant that I’d be able to quit the part-time job I had (and totally disliked) and stay home “for real”. Well, it turns out her son is allergic to cats. And I have one. We’re going to try having him at my house one more time, and if he reacts badly again, I’ll be taking my toddler to her house twice a week to babysit.
What that means for me is, during naptime for both (yes, they amazingly nap in the afternoon at the same time) I’ll have a couple free hours somewhere other than my own home. And I’m not taking my laptop with me, I’m taking my Bible. No distractions, no “I need to do laundry”, no “I really need to straighten up this or that”, because it’s not my house. I really think it’s God’s way of giving me that time I need away from my day to day at home and have some quiet time to read and pray.
I usually pray after reading my Bible in the mornings before my day kicks into gear. Then, I pray throughout the day/night. By nature, I’m a very self-reliant person, so it’s especially important for me to be in prayer constantly!
I meant to comment earlier today and am just now having the chance… oh the busy.
Thank you for this post.
This has been a great post and comments to read. In the last year I have been convicted to read my Bible more and the same thing is true as is with prayer – it’s easy to brush aside because we’re so busy. I had to discsipline myself to make time to read my Bible each day – and at the same time this creates prayer time for me. God wants relationship with us, so I do think it’s more about talking with him all day long. If you have time for more, great. What I found is this discipline became like any other habit – once I established it, it became part of my routine. Saying that, I think God wants to be with you whenever your heart is open to be with Him,
I am a praying kind of girl. I pray throughout my day–prayers of thanksgiving, prayers for friends, prayers for strangers I encounter, prayers of WOW GOD when I see something cool. A prayer lifestyle like that keeps me way more focused on God than before I started being intentional about praying like this. But it isn’t enough. Like you, my days are packed full of good stuff. It takes serious effort to spend concentrated time with God, and that is almost always the first thing to go when the day is full. To help me with this, I have set up a private, password-protected blog where I journal my prayers. I’ve been doing this for several months now, and have been pretty consistent on spending solid journaling prayer time several times each week. Good stuff!
I’m catching up on my blog reading when this post stopped me in my tracks. Taking time to pray is my Fall goal. I’m not too good at New Year’s Resolutions so I take them a season at a time. And I’ve been craving prayer. That connection with my Maker that’s been missing in all the hustle and bustle. Sometimes my prayer time is my drive to work, but I know what my heart craves is what my heart gets. I’ve had some incredibly peaceful moments.
I hope you continue to have your heart tugged in that direction, Jo-Lynne. 🙂
This is so challenging and encouraging.
I KNOW my prayerlife is often the first to suffer when life is busy – but that is just when I need it.
My laptop has just died (my 3 month only one) and nothing can be done until at least monday. I plan to spend more time in prayer than on my laptop.
I would appreciate prayers for this!
Such an awesome, important reminder.
Thank you for challenging me tonight, Jo-Lynne.
I, too, want to be a woman of prayer.
I make sure (most of the time LOL) to pray as I am getting out of bed- otherwise my day is going to go south quickly. But, other than that my quiet time with God is as it comes. Some days I am fortunate enough to be the first one up (rarely) and can have coffee and Bible study alone. Other mornings, I have Joyce Meyer on in the background while I am doing the dishes and other times I am reading my Bible at the bleachers during basketball practice. I talk to God in the car a lot too – people driving by probably think I’m nuts =) I think that having an attitude of being open to what God has and viewing all our daily opportunities as communion with Him goes a long way in increasing the intimacy of our relationship with Him. Great post and I so enjoyed meeting you at SheSpeaks!
Beautiful honesty. I should go to She Speaks next year. Maybe you’ll be there again. I have to meet you!
I pray at night, when no one else is awake. I’m in bed, in the dark, in the quiet, and I very quietly pray.
Sometimes I’m so moved that I get up, leave the room, and cry and speak louder.
He’s been speaking to me a lot more lately. I’m feeling a sense of urgency to follow his plan for my life. Even though I’m still not 100% certain what that is… the parts I’m sure about are a little scary. But stepping out in faith and following God is supposed to be a little scary…