This is not going to make me look like a good person, but for the longest time, I was unsure of the verse in 1 Thessalonians that says, “Never stop praying.” Other versions translate it as “Pray without ceasing” or “Pray continually.” But regardless of the translation, all I could think was, “That sounds….like a lot of work.”
Maybe it goes back to when I was a kid and took it way too literally. When I would start praying, I had the thought multiple times that I wasn’t allowed to stop praying until I had prayed for every single person that I had ever encountered. Around the time of blessing all the cousins of the people that worked at my favorite restaurant, I would start to think, “This is too much work.”
But here’s the truth: prayer is important. Prayer connects us to God. Prayer works.
If you struggle like I do with the concept of prayer, here are a few ways I’m trying to include it more in my life:
1. Find your cues
There are rhythms in our every day life that can serve as reminders to pray. I’ve made a habit of saying a prayer any time I hear sirens. That’s a cue that someone is hurting and could use some extra support.
I had a high school student tell me once that he would say a prayer for one of his classmates every time the bell rang.
Another friend prays every time she donates blood because that’s her reminder that there’s someone in the world right now who needs it.
Look around you. What’s a regular, tangible part of your life that can remind you to pray?
2. Learn to actually be still
We’re not great at being alone with our thoughts. The second there is a little silence in my life, I pull out my phone. I fill any void with distraction.
I need to be better at filling those times with prayer. Waiting on the gas to pump into your car? That’s a moment of stillness. Standing in an abnormally long checkout line? That’s a moment of stillness. That awkward 10 minute gap where you’re about to head into a meeting so you don’t have time to start a new project? That’s a moment of stillness. I’m working to replace mindless Instagram scrolling during those times with connecting with God.
3. Recognize that God cares about the little things
Somewhere along the way, I got into the terrible mindset of thinking that God only cared about the big things. Slowly, over time, that turned into not bringing anything to Him.
But here’s the truth: the frustration you feel when you can’t find something? He cares about it. That minor ache that isn’t debilitating but is certainly annoying? He cares. Checking in on the small things helps us stay in the habit of bringing everything, big or small, to Him.
At the end of the day, I get all of this wrong more than I get it right. But the more I practice, the more it becomes a habit.