Prayer was never meant to stay within four walls, or spoken from a well-worn chair, or coupled with coffee.
Don’t get me wrong, praying in my favorite spot with coffee in hand is a delight. But when I look at Jesus, I see how He prayed in the wilderness, solitary places, on a mountain, in crowds, gardens, and with children.
Jesus prayed with the same ease as His next breath, making the most of every opportunity.
As I look around, I see spring everywhere — in outdoor activities, flowers, trees, and on the labels of my sinus meds. The struggle is real. But every season offers its own unique opportunities for prayer, and spring is no exception.
So, where are some places we can make the most of every opportunity to pray this season? I’ll get the ball rolling with eight ideas:
Depending on the time we visit, we might see women running, children climbing on playsets, or couples circling it hand-in-hand.
We can pray God will bless the efforts of those taking the time to exercise. Are children climbing monkey bars? Pray they’ll come to know Jesus at an early age, for their protection (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), and for their parents. Also, seeing couples enjoying time together is a reminder to pray that they’ll be a good and godly influence on other couples (and we will too). So, let’s get to dusting off the devilish yellowish-green powder covering the park bench and take our seats!
Walks in Our Community
We walk in our neighborhood and pray for various families as we pass by their homes. So let’s stretch our prayer muscles and find other places in our community to pray. We can circle our children/grandchildren’s school in prayer or a small business that’s struggling. Let’s circle our church, praying for the pastoral staff and their families. We can also pray as we pass by the police station, fire department, and other places where dedicated men and women serve our community and country.
In the Garden
You know the old saying that we’re closer to God in a garden? Maybe it’s older than we think. After all, life began in a garden and the union with God was perfect before fruit was plucked and eaten.
As we dig into the earth, let’s consider those who need a holy heart tilling ⏤ for the Holy Spirit to begin preparing their heart for His Word, and that truth will sink deeply in their heart and mind. Pulling weeds? What a beautiful reminder to pray that we ourselves will also have a well-tilled heart.
At the Beach
Many southerners make their way to the beach during spring break, weekend trips, and early vacations. I have a feeling we’re not alone. (I hope we’re not!) While sitting on the beach, scoop up a handful of sand. Notice the number of granules, even in one pinched finger’s worth. Psalm 139 says God’s thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand. Do you, or someone you know, need to be reminded of God’s goodness, care, and attention? Pray and if you want to give them a tangible reminder, scoop sand in a Ziploc bag. Also, watching the mighty waves curl, crash and ease their way to the shore reminds us of God’s power and strength. Let’s pray for this power to move in our present circumstances, as well as others. A week’s worth of similar ideas is included in my devotional guide for the beach. (Not an affiliate link.)
The Farmer’s Market
We see a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables, flowers, jams, honey, and jellies⏤the fruition of hard work behind the scenes. It’s a great opportunity to pray for those who plant, water, fumigate, and can fruity goodness. Pray for their health, blessings on their work, and success.
At the Zoo
Who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the zoo, especially before the double-whammy hits ⏤ humidity and mosquitoes! Kids and kids-at-heart marvel at God’s creativity — the colors, habits, shapes, and their innate ability to survive. There’s no better place to praise God for surrounding us in His handcrafted beauty.
Maybe it’s hard to imagine being able to pray while whipping around curves and stopping for lunch at our favorite mom and pop cafe but thanks to breath prayers, it’s possible.
Intentionally “taking” our prayer life wherever we go opens our eyes to spiritual truths and opportunities we would miss otherwise. And no greater example of this is Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
Let’s welcome Crickett Keeth back to Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill!
How would you describe your time in prayer? Do you do most of the talking, or do you pause to listen?
When we hear the words pray or prayer, we tend to think of speaking, not listening. When we pray, we talk to God, asking for things and expressing our feelings about what’s going on in life.
But prayer isn’t to be one-sided. Yes, we talk to God and make our requests known, but we also need to take time to listen to His response. I don’t mean we sit and wait for a small (or booming) voice to whisper words to us. In all my years as a Christian, I have never heard God speak to me in an audible voice. But we can listen to God in other ways.
We pray by listening as we read God’s Word.
While you’re reading and studying the Bible, ask God to give you wisdom and guidance. Listen to what He’s saying through His Word. If something stands out to you, pray about it as the Holy Spirit prompts you.
Recently, I was reading Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (NASB95).” As I listened to God’s Word, He convicted me. I stopped reading and began to pray: “Lord, Your Word tells me I shouldn’t be anxious about anything. But, to be honest, I am anxious about a lot of things today—my future, this decision that’s looming over me, the situation in our country, deadlines I have to meet. . . Lord, I confess I’m worried. But how do I stop being anxious?”
The second half of the verse answered that question. “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” He was instructing me through His Word how to deal with my anxious thoughts. I listened to His Word and began to pray. I wrote down everything I was anxious about and began to pray about each area, thanking God He had it under control. He gave me peace that I could trust Him to take care of my needs and the things I was worried about.
Praying by listening doesn’t mean we sit in silence and wait to hear God speak audibly or through random thoughts. We listen to His Word and begin praying His Word back to Him as it guides, convicts, and strengthens us.
Take a verse this week and practice praying by listening to His Word.
We pray by listening as we journal.
I love to journal and write down my thoughts and prayers. What am I struggling with? What am I thankful for? What is going on in my life today? God guides me on how to pray as I journal, and I often write out my prayers.
Journaling helps me listen to God in several ways. It gives clarity about situations. It helps me verbalize what I’m thinking and feeling by putting it down on paper. Writing out my prayers helps me think through what I’m praying about. As I write, God brings things to mind and helps me process thoughts and situations. When I journal, I’m listening to God and praying as I write.
Take some time this week to journal your thoughts.What’s going on in your life? What are your needs? How do you view God in this season? Write out a prayer.
We pray by listening as we worship through music.
Worship music (hymns and contemporary) encourages me and challenges me. I love to listen to worship music as I drive to and from work each day. It prepares my heart for what’s ahead and helps me process the day on the way home. There are times I push pause on the music and start praying because of something I’ve heard in the song. Sometimes, it’s a phrase that has convicted me, and I want to confess sin right then. Other times, the words move me to pray about a situation. As I listen and sing along, the words and music lead me to worship and meditate on His attributes.
This week listen to worship music in the car or at home. Listen to the lyrics and see how God speaks to you through them. How does He use the words to move you to prayer?
What would you add to this list to help you pray by listening?
Crickett Keeth is the Women’s Ministry Director at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where she writes and teaches women’s Bible studies. She is the author of The Gift of Rest, Sumatra with the Seven Churches (co-authored with Sandra Glahn), and her newly released study from Moody, On Bended Knee. Crickett was on staff with Cru for ten years and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. In addition to teaching regularly at her own church, she also speaks at women’s conferences and retreats. Learn more at crickettkeeth.com.
And can we agree that few things in life are more intentional than growing a garden? We scout out a sunny spot, prepare the soil, choose the plants, and pluck them in the ground. I know a little something about this because growing up, we had a large organic garden⏤back before organic was cool.
In the springtime, we planted tomatoes, peppers, corn, and okra. In summer, insects were plucked off stems, and in the fall, decaying tomatoes whizzed past us in hopes of pelting the other person with the ripe scent of rot. Good times!
But in the winter, we rested, as did the ground.
The garden soil was still, but it never stopped receiving nutrients from the layers of organic matter dad churned into the earth just before the first frost. Earthworms continued to weave their way through red clay, as we have here in the south, aerating the soil and making it healthier for the next season.
During the winter, rest also happened inside our house as we enjoyed the fruit of our labor from the prior year’s garden. And receiving the Burpee Seed Spring catalog generated as much excitement as the lemon blueberry bundt cakes baked most Sunday afternoons. (Trust me, that’s a lot of excitement!)
So what does a wintering ground have to do with creating holy pockets of stillness?
Just because a ground appears still and lifeless for a season doesn’t mean life isn’t teeming below. And just because we choose to be still doesn’t mean a holy bustle isn’t happening within. In fact, our still moments are the most productive moments of the day.
Imagine the peace and assurance the Israelites must have received from this passage as they left Egypt. In stillness, these words from the Lord can calm the storms raging below our surface⏤fear, worry, bitterness, etc.
On the outside, we’re all smiles. Beneath the happy expression is a heart that is anything but. Recent events, deciding whether or not to take the vaccination, wondering what the year holds, and job concerns elbow their way through an already crowded heart. But in stillness, we remember God’s sovereignty and wait patiently for Him, His timing, and His ways.
If Jesus can hush an angry sea with three words, surely we can still ourselves long enough to hear them too. *smile*
Holy pockets of silence don’t need to be added to our day — they already exist in the ordinary moments.
Outdoors. Walking or sitting outside, we close our eyes. What gratitude rises from what you see, smell, or hear?
Folding laundry. Consider putting a scripture verse on the wall to meditate on while you fold.
Baking. Watching someone prepare dough for loaves of bread is marvel-worthy in my book. The slow ease with which they knead a simple mixture of flour and liquid into a work of art prompts me to want to do the same. Maybe we don’t bake bread, but we brew cups of tea and prepare meals. Both require a slowing-down of sorts. What if we embraced the quiet process instead of fighting it, choosing to practice stillness as God uses our hands to bring forth beauty?
With stillness comes rest⏤whether it’s a wintering ground or a troubled soul⏤producing a healthier, more resilient, and stronger life for seasons to come.
What’s one simple way you will create a holy pocket of silence in your day? (There’s no right or wrong answer!)
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While there’s a lot I’d like to leave behind in 2020, my prayer life isn’t one of them.
For thirty years, I’ve celebrated the truth that God wants to be personally known, experienced, and trusted. But my time with Him hasn’t always reflected it. My intentions were good, but apparently, my excuses were sometimes better, widening the door for guilt to slither in and crack open the window for shame to join in the harassment.
In early 2020, I began reading Priscilla Shirer’s devotional, Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks. The title resonated with a deep desire to stop the cycle of good intentions.
And so I began the 90-Day journey with God.
I sat down with her devotional, the Bible, and my trusted journal. Within a week or two, I sensed the Lord creating a daily rhythm for our dedicated time of fellowship:
Slowly and prayerfully, read through the book of Psalms, one a day.
In no time flat, accusations disguised as whispers began to chatter:
You should be working through a study instead of just reading your Bible.
Why are you only reading “x” amount of verses?
You call this a valid quiet time?
But I did it anyway. And here’s what happened.
You know that elated feeling you experience when spending time with someone who shares a mutual interest? You could talk about (fill in the blank) all day long, and with a little caffeine, maybe all night! You leave their presence feeling energetic, encouraged, and ready to face another day, right?
That’s what happened when I began showing up with a holy expectancy! What will my heavenly Father reveal today? Not like a little girl on Santa’s knee, but a woman who’s incredibly flawed but hungry to hear from God and join in the adventure! (Even that desire is from Him, my flesh would prefer to be eating breakfast.)
During our dedicated time of fellowship, He reveals my sins: how I overdo sweets, the way I sometimes relate to my husband, and my lack of faith in various areas of my life, just to name a few. Some revelations are painful, but they’re necessary, and even a confirmation of His love. (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6)
God opens my eyes to spiritual truths I wouldn’t see or receive otherwise. He provides ideas for ministry, ways to love others, words, sentences, paragraphs, and a dream Literary Agent only He could’ve provided. The list goes on!!! (Multiple exclamation points = holy excitement)
Still, I prayed for weeks before creating this post.
You see, I wanted to make sure it was God’s voice (and not mine) prompting me to share how He transformed our time together. The last thing I wanted was to give the illusion that I had anything to offer but a willing heart, or that there was a “magic” formula for drawing closer to God, or that I was discounting the vital need for studying God’s Word in-depth.
We know the simple act of reading the Word and studying it is the difference between wading in a pool and swimming in it. And if there’s ever been a time when we as Christ-followers need to know the Word for ourselves, it is today. I did, however, learn that if reading is done prayerfully, there’s much to glean and is anything but a simple read.
I can only testify that the plan He unfolded for a season deepened my faith and infused our time of fellowship with a deep, abiding joy that I never saw coming.
So, how do we begin moving toward a more consistent prayer life in 2021?
Check the heart. What do we truly believe about our time with God? Is He present? Does He hear us? Does He respond? Am I willing to hear His conviction as well as His blessings?
Create a plan. Whether or not we consider ourselves a planner is irrelevant. We plan other worthy appointments⏤the doctor, work, hair, etc. Is He worthy?
Come with an expectant heart! This connects with the first point but it’s also a vital part of the adventure.
Prayerfully consider what plan God might want to unfold for your time together.
Equip our time with essentials beforehand: Bible, journal, “travel with God” journal, and pen.
*Bonus: Continue the engagement with God throughout the day!
Not only did God confirm that others might benefit from this post, but He also broke it down into bite-sized pieces for “(Re)Awaken Your Prayer Life.” Inside, you’ll find more information on the five considerations above (and the bonus!), along with inspiring verses and quotes in the form of coloring pages.
This free guide is a small token of my appreciation for subscribing to the “Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill” bi-weekly blog. It’s also available to current subscribers (love and appreciate y’all beyond words!).
To subscribe, simply scroll to the bottom of this post or see the top right sidebar section.
So, as we look forward to a new year with a fresh slate, what is one spiritual discipline you sense God is calling you to cultivate in 2021? Share in the comment section to be entered into a giveaway for your own leather “travel with God” journal!
P.S. For one week in January, an added bonus on ways to grow a more consistent prayer life will be shared each day. (And don’t be surprised if there’s a daily giveaway to help in those efforts.)
I texted one morning, asking if there were specific ways I could pray for her, and in return, she asked the same. It was a simple exchange of words.
But at that moment, I realized it was more than a simple swap.
Yes, tapping requests on the phone is simple enough, but we know the true power begins the moment we lift up the person in prayer⏤speaking their name, sharing their requests, and trusting God’s best for them.
Sometimes this kind of pairing happens organically, but when it doesn’t, intentionality is required. Both can lead to an authentic connection for God’s glory.
Benefits of Partnering in Prayer
“Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
We become more aware of what we’re praying for.
We gain our partner’s perspective and godly wisdom.
It helps us feel less anxious knowing we have at least one person praying specifically for us.
We need each other! It’s no coincidence the disciples were sent out in pairs. In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile toward believers, we need to encourage, inspire, and speak words of life into one another.
We become invested in each other’s Kingdom work.
What We May Want to Consider
Set expectations from the get-go. Do you want to exchange requests daily, three times a week, or weekly?
Partner with the intention of being paired for 1-3 months. This takes the “I-should”, “I-must” kind of pressure off the partnership, inviting joy and the sense of biblical community into the equation.
We’ve all been there⏤you know where⏤the times we said we’d pray but forgot. Having it in a text format keeps her words before us, but taking a moment to pray right then and there is the best way to follow through with good intentions.
Text the praying hand’s emoji to our partner after we pray, and every time we pray for her. It’s a quick, small signal, but one that’s sure to encourage.
Leaving loved ones on the stoop of hospital doors, entrusting healthcare workers to fill in the gaps we want to fill but can’t.
Lives lost, dream weddings postponed, jobs eliminated, and the inability to enter health facilities with loved ones being admitted, are just some of the situations we find ourselves in these days.
Several weeks ago, my stepmom took dad to the ER for a high fever. Saying goodbye at the stiffly guarded steel doors only to return alone to her car and wait was one of her hardest moments.
“The worst part of life is waiting. The best part of life is having someone worth the wait.”
When Jessica Brumley penned these words, she wasn’t referring to the same kind of wait, but the words still ring true, don’t they?
Choosing to see blessings beyond our circumstances is an act of faith.
Recently, I started creating sensory-based pauses (mini-devotions) for my subscribers to enjoy while in specific spaces. One month is it was the garden. Last month, a picnic. For each of the five senses, I offered a simple prompt to help push the pause button and focus on the goodness of God that stretches far beyond a steering wheel.
The simple act of focusing on God turns an upside-down world right-side up.
Today, “A Pause While You Wait” (including an inspirational page to color) is my gift to you. Feel free to share this post with your circle of friends because sometimes we don’t know we’ll need it until we do.
“You will keep the mind that is dependent upon you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3
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So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!
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