On a church weekend away in June 2004 I was running along a beach in the hot sun. I finally stopped, fell to my knees in the sand and, looking out to the ocean, I was challenged by God – ‘spend time with me’.
Since that moment I have given my day-to-day prayers to God much more attention. Since then, taking a moment to realise the opportunities to pray for the people we encounter each day has proven to be invaluable.
I deliberately walk to work each day along a quiet route so I can feel confident when praying aloud. As I walk I pray the same prayer each morning; it’s a prayer that I was introduced to by some friends. Part of the prayer is
Christ be in the heart of each to whom I speak and be in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
There is power in acknowledging that Jesus has gone before us. By persistently reciting the prayer each day it has become a habit.
I’ve always seen the value in investing in people and I make a point in having what I’ve come to call purposeful encounters. Going to the staff room, sitting with different people, joining a club or group. All these activities give insight into people’s lives and lets them see more of mine. I can pray for people as they share their needs and see the effect of the prayers that are spoken.
Building prayer into family time
At bedtime for our children my wife and I say prayers with them. Before I pray with my 5 year old son we ask each other questions about our days. This gives me insight into his life and we then pray for the people that he has played with at school and for the teachers that he has worked with during the day. If like me you choose to live a busy life, and you like it that way, then take advantage of all prayer times.
When on a train travelling alone I pray for the people that I see around me. On occasion, I’ve moved seats to talk to people or give them a note of encouragement. I’ve given pages of my bible to people with a verse for them and written notes to people to give them before I leave the train. It’s a real exercise in faith that begins with prayer. In the book of Genesis Jacob says:
Surely the Lord was in this place and I was not aware of it.
This guides my prayers for people, I pray that they will become aware of God’s presence.
Practically I would like to suggest that imposed prayer times are of great benefit. Our church has weekly prayer meetings at different people’s homes. Approximately once every 6 weeks my wife and I welcome the church to our house for an hour of prayer. We deliberately keep our names on the rota so that whatever we’re doing, we stop and make time. We discuss what we’ve been praying for, answers to prayers and those answers that are yet to be revealed to us. Sharing stories of how people we pray for have been coming to know Jesus is encouraging and faith-building for future prayers.
These are just some ideas from my life of how I integrate praying for people who do not know Jesus into everyday activities. These simple steps all came from that challenge to “spend time with me”.