As I write this post I am sitting in a beautiful rental home that our extended family gathered in over Christmas. The fireplace is flickering and warming the room, the sun is shining and right now I have some time to reflect by myself.
It is easy to see God's beauty in a place like this. The frozen lake glimmers with light from the sunset, the Christmas lights offer a warmth and glow to the home. It is perfect. And when things are perfect...well, I can find it hard to take time to be intentional with my prayer time with God.
Do you struggle with that too?
Sure I cry out to Him when things are rough. I know all to well the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness...of trying to make sense of the hard and ugly places that life has taken us at times. God becomes my 1-800-helpline as I demand changes and results.
But this week, surrounded by family and beauty...all my wants and desires are met, and so my quiet time with God is pushed aside.
This isn't how I want to live my days though. Seeking after God only when I have a need. No I want to develop a relationship with Him that is one of intentional seeking of His plan and purpose for my life. A relationship built on faith and trust and one that comes with an intentional seeking of His face each and every day.
Several months ago I was invited to participate in a 40 day prayer journey. A friend was starting Mark Batterson's 40 Day Prayer Circle Challenge and she asked if we were interested in keeping each other accountable through it. I had heard encouraging things from others that had gone through it so I joined in.
I bought the audio book so that I could listen to the devotionals in the morning. In one of the first days Mark encouraged us to get a prayer journal and to start writing out our prayers. He said that when we write out the prayers, big and small, we can then go back and see how God had answered our prayers.
And so began my 40 day prayer journey.
I specifically committed in the first 40 days to pray for my 18 year old son. He is a senior this year and making big choices about college etc., and I felt like I needed to be intentional about praying over him. So each morning I would pray that God would guide him in his choices. Open the right doors and give my son confidence and wisdom about His path for my son's life.
It is an honor to pray for our kids isn't it? And can I admit something to you? This is really the first time in 18 years, that I have committed to praying for my kids like this. It is sad to admit that, but I have been so encouraged through this journey myself, that I am excited to continuing praying in this way for all of my kids.
Colossians 4:2 "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."
For 40 days I got up in the early morning hours to listen to the day's devotional and to write out my prayers. Each person/thing I was praying for was circled and then a more specific prayer was written next to it.
"Praying circles simply means that we are praying over something until the prayer is answered. As long as it takes." Mark Batterson
Some of the things that I circled in the first 40 days have yet to be answered...in fact I am in the final days of my 2nd 40 day challenge and they continue to be things that I pray for.
God doesn't always answer my prayers in MY time...but I believe He is faithful to answer them in HIS.
Taking time each morning to start my day with God has been revolutionary in my life. My perspective is better, it isn't always perfect...but when I start my day with God, I am starting out in the right direction.
This journey of circling my prayers hasn't always been easy, but the rewards have been well worth the time spent. My prayer is that you would start this new year with a heart to seek out intentional time WITH God, in the good and the bad. I am certain that when you do, you will be blessed in countless ways!
Kristin Anne Smith is a wife and mother, but most importantly, a daughter of the King—redeemed by His grace and so grateful. Over the past 18 years, she and her husband have often been tossed on a raging sea, sometimes by their own doing and other times from situations out of their control. Despite their choices and occasional lack of faith, God loved them. He walked out to their boat, extended His hand, and said, “Come; trust Me with everything.” They both knew a life with God was the only answer and agreed to follow Him no matter what. They continue to be transformed and experience His extravagant love. Kristin blogs at The Riches of His Love and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.