As I was driving through Seattle traffic, a loud siren blew, prompting me to immediately utter a short prayer for the first responders and those in crisis.
From the back seat came a panicked little voice “Don’t close your eyes, Mama!”
I had just married, moved to Seattle, and adopted three littles who were suddenly horrified at their new mama praying while driving in traffic. I assured my kids I didn’t close my eyes when I was praying while driving. Or walking. Or on the phone.
But I did warn them to be alert because I pray pretty much anywhere anytime.
I learned this practice from my seminary advisor Dr. J. Christy Wilson. Whenever someone gave him a prayer request, he would stop everything and say, “Let’s just pray about that right now.” I remember feeling awkward at first when he paused in the middle of the cafeteria to pray with me for my mother’s surgery. But I learned.
Dr. Wilson’s spontaneous prayer was contagious among the seminarians and often the source of a bit of fun. Once while in the middle of a large lecture hall a student started dozing off, and the guy sitting next to him nudged and said, “Dr. Wilson just asked you to pray.” Which was completely plausible, though not actually true at the time.
Awakening quickly, the guy stood up in the middle of class and gave a heartfelt prayer. Totally unfazed, Dr. Wilson thanked him and continued the lecture.
I learned from Dr. Wilson that prayer is not just something you do occasionally. Prayer is a way of life. And I discovered that as I prayed about anything and everything, I began to live that praying life.
My husband and I sent our children off to school each day with a blessing and prayer, as well as a blessing and prayer for their teachers by name. After all they would be with them for the entire day. It became a holy habit. And to this day I try to pray with my kids whenever I conclude a phone conversation or visit.
Because many years later after that first traffic prayer, my son Tim worked his way through college serving the Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, Fire Department. And one day he told me, “Every time we go out on a call with sirens blasting, I wonder if there’s a mama and her kids praying for us.”
You can’t make this stuff up. Children are always watching and listening—more is caught than taught.
When the Apostle Paul admonished us in Scripture to “never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he knew our lives would be full of many other things—people, work, play. He also knew that in the midst of cleaning house, running a business, changing diapers, driving carpool, teaching class, mowing lawns, or riding the subway, we could still maintain a prayerful posture.
If prayer is at its core a conversation with God, then certainly we recognize that conversations take place in many ways. In our own praying lives, we are urged to have daily time of focused prayer and study. For me, this is usually early in the morning before my to-do lists, devices, and people clamor for attention. I also seek to focus at the end of the day on a prayer of reflection, reviewing my part and God’s part in the past hours and entrusting all I love into His care.
But what about in-between? When I’m not necessarily sitting, reading, or singing, I remember people and circumstances before the throne of grace through prayers. Sometimes I just whisper someone’s name, and God knows his or her needs at that moment. Other times I shoot up arrow prayers—two perennial favorites are “Help!” and “Thanks.” And yes, I do stop and pray with people on the phone, at a meeting, walking together, at table, and through a church prayer chain.
I pray spontaneously when called upon and sometimes when not. But I also pray often using ancient prayers downloaded directly from the Holy Spirit to the quill or scroll of someone who put into words exactly how I desire to communicate with my heavenly Father at that moment. I’m so grateful to have access to these anointed prayers from godly believers who lived long ago but seem to understand my twenty-first century soul. I pray Scripture and insert personal pronouns.
I have been recording some one-minute prayers during this time of pandemic. You can hear them by clicking on each prayer link below (the first prayer sample is already clicked):
- Night Prayer
- Prayer When Struggling
- Prayer for Strength
- Prayer All Alone
- Prayer for Reaching Out
- Prayer for Our Children
- Prayer in Time of Sudden Death
- Prayer Offering My Life
- Prayer to Live Loved
- Prayer in Pain
- Prayer of Commitment
- Morning Intercessory Prayer
- Prayer of Confession
Will you keep praying always? According to Dallas Willard, prayer is “talking to God about what we’re doing together.” Thus, a life of dwelling deep will include a lot of conversation about your partnership.
Keep living life with God at your side; then you can’t help but talk to Him about it!
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell, adapted from Soul Strong
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