For several years now, what worked best for Brad and I was praying before bed each night. Here’s how we did it:
- Every so often, maybe every 6 months or so, we would do what we called a “Prayer Dump.” We would both sit down in silence and take just a few (seriously like 3) minutes to write down what concerns and burdens were on our heart for prayer. If you take more than a few minutes, I find that you don’t get the gut needs that are present.
- After the Prayer Dump time is over, we would compare our lists. Topics that were common or had a common theme would get written down on a prayer list. Sometimes, Brad would have written something down that I also wanted to pray for, but it didn’t make my Prayer Dump – and that’s OK. We jointly decide what goes on our prayer list.
- We assign a night to each topic. This could be systematic (like praying for your church staff, elders, and church vision on Saturday night), but it works just as well being entirely random!
- Each night when you’re tired and worn out, you turn to the list and pray from there.
My pastor hubby has been convicted about praying even more than he already does in 2012. In the midst of a church-wide prayer and fasting week, I feel this conviction too.
But here’s what I want you to know – the above prayer technique is not prescriptive!!
You do not have to sit down, or kneel, bow your head, and clasp your hands to pray. That posture, I think, is a side effect of prayer. While praying, you may be so hit with the BIGNESS of God and his majesty and his mercy on your life that you cannot help but bow before Him, the King.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing” or “Pray continually” or “Constantly pray” – this sounds like a direct command to me (verse 18 says this is God’s will)! This is what God prescribes – to pray without end. Not to pray before dinner. Or pray before bed. Or pray in church.
Pray without end.
If you’re like me, you have a constant conversation going in your head. With yourself. Praying continually is just like that but directing all of that inward chatter to God. Weaving in the truth of God’s word through that chatter so that your thoughts are true.
Back to prayer time with your husband. Or, specifically, my prayer time with my husband. 🙂
In addition to praying continually, I think there are many benefits to having set prayer routines (like praying before eating or praying before bed), especially routines for praying corporately, like with your spouse. Your entire soul is bared to the Lord, and for me, this is one of the few times that my husband gets to hear these thoughts. Perhaps it’s a part of this:
These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road,as you lie down, and as you get up. You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbolson your forehead. Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NETBible)
Tonight, I realized that our bedtime prayer routine is not working. Often, we are going to bed at different times (work and toddler-related). We are seriously beat when we get there, too. Maybe it will work for us again soon, but in the meantime, it might be time for a change.
I will be fasting for the next 3 weeks from TV/Netflix (so don’t tell me how funny Modern Family is!). Perhaps this is a good time, then, to try out setting aside a night of the week for prayer with my husband. And by night, I mean 9pm after our 2-year old is asleep! Maybe this isn’t sustainable with some of our evening committments, but if we cry out to God together weekly for a few weeks and then have to change it again, do you think it will be any less effective?
What works for you? I would love to know!