There are good things that didn’t happen in my life last year for one reason only: I didn’t ask for them.
So I created a 5 minute per day, 7-day plan to refresh prayer in my life for the new year ahead. I want everything God has for me, and I want it for you too. I think prayer might just be the key to the most unlikely, exciting, interesting parts of our year. So I went back to the basics for a reminder of how to pray. Is it worth five minutes a day to get closer to all this year has to offer? If you said yes, then start here.
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who had any special gift for prayer. I’ve prayed often for years, but it doesn’t feel magical. I sometimes feel like I pray in similar ways day after day. I wanted to remind myself of what sorts of things the Bible actually says I should pray for, so I created this to spark the beginning of some new conversations with God. Feel free to press repeat on this plan 52 times this year. Use it as your first five minutes or your only five minutes a day. Five minutes is better than no minutes. Something might just happen you didn’t expect.
Day 1: Get rid of my motives.
- 1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
Ideally, when we pray, it would be God’s will that we seek. But let’s be honest—it’s usually our desires we want to talk about. God certainly wants to hear those, but I often think I know what’s best in my life. Prayer can be a time to acknowledge what we want, but it’s also a time to yield to a God that sees and knows so much more. He just may have some ideas I hadn’t thought of before. I want the best that He can give, so on Day 1, I will make a list of all the things I want to talk to God about; then tell him all my thoughts as a way to connect, brain dump, and make room for him to redirect me if he wants. After this, I’ll sit in silence for two minutes to signal to God that if our desires conflict, I’ll take his.
Day 2: Tell God how great he is.
- Psalm 100:4-5 “Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
God doesn’t have an ego. This is for us to remember just exactly what kind of unbelievably wonderful and powerful God is in charge. When I do this, I remember that He is the best reward—not all the little stuff I’m requesting. So make a list of His wonderful qualities. Paint a picture of something He created. Write Him a poem. Sing Him a song (or join Crossroads Live on Facebook any day for worship). Look out your back window and just record what reminds you of God. Just take five minutes to be in awe of Him. Do nothing else.
Day 3: Ask for what I need.
- Psalm 102:17 “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.”
- Psalm 17:6 “I call on you my God for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”
God is a giver. There are things I can have if I ask for them. He wants to know what I want. The whole basis for a relationship with God is this: He gives, and we receive. There is nothing we can give to God that he needs, but we need a lot from him. And He likes to give! Yes, we need Him in the big ways like saving us from all the ways we’re broken and the promise of life forever. I talk to him about those. I also need stuff today that I don’t have. I think He loves when I’m humble enough to come to him in need. If He’ll give it, I’ll take it. I’m not afraid to ask.
Day 4: Confess my crap.
- Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
I pretty much always have offensive ways in me. To stay real about who I really am, it’s good for me to say this stuff out loud. I want to connect with God in an honest way, so it sinks in that I’m loved even when I’m broken. I know He forgives me. I’ve just found if I admit all my own crap something inside me shifts: I feel lighter and walk away having more grace for others. Just this week, I have already confessed a whole list. There’s no shortage here. And it actually feels good to do!
Day 5: Pray for people who annoy me.
- Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
There will always be people who annoy me. Some who have hurt me. Some I just don’t like. I’m sure you have your own list. What if we just took one person on that list and prayed for them to be blessed in some way we don’t think they deserve? I’m trying this weekly even if my prayer starts, “God, you know how I feel about this person…”
Day 6: Pray for protection where I’m weak.
- Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
Weaknesses are part of being human in this world, and even Jesus Himself was tempted by the enemy of God, called Satan. Satan sees and preys on our weaknesses, so I unashamedly ask God for protection, especially where I’ve struggled in the past. One place this includes for me is never feeling like a good enough friend. Over time I have had to learn to be a better friend and still don’t feel great at it. So it’s easy to believe the voices in my head accusing me. They say I still suck at it (and that’s why she didn’t text me back). I ask for protection from these.
Day 7: Pray for leaders in my life.
- 1 Tim 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
This year, 2020, we need this more than ever. As our country is divided and facing a presidential election, I’ll pray for national and state leaders. I also take time to pray for Brian Tome, my senior pastor, my boss, and for the Spiritual Board at Crossroads. I will also pray for the coaches, teachers, and principals at my kids’ schools and other leaders in our lives as well.
As we head into a new year, I want anything and everything God has for me, and I want the same for you. Let’s go back to basics. Almost all of these things are in one simple prayer Jesus used to teach his followers how to pray (see Matthew 6:9-13). I believe God has so much more for each of us than we believe, and even five minutes a day of connecting more closely with God will lead us to a better new year.