After reading anything that Chrystal Evans Hurst writes, I feel like I have just finished a conversation with a good friend at a cozy coffee shop. Her warmth and authenticity creates a table for us all to gather around. Chrystal has a way of breaking down major aspirations that seem mountainous into bite size baby steps that are practical. This is exactly what she does for us in her book: “The 28-Day Prayer Journey.” It’s a grace to welcome Chrystal to the farm’s front porch today…
What does prayer look like for you these days? A quick 5-minute “Thank you Lord” as you crawl out of bed?
Maybe you recite the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps you don’t know what to pray and as you try to carve out time to talk to God, you find yourself falling asleep, distracted by your own thoughts, or uncomfortably staring into space; unsure of what to say.
I found myself in the same rut a few years ago.
I felt guilty about my lack of consistency and fervor when it came to prayer so I created a 28-day prayer challenge on social media. I came up with specific prayer prompts for each day that would encourage myself and others to be more accountable with prayer.
Honestly? I didn’t think I would finish. I thought I would fall off the wagon; failing myself, and everyone doing the challenge with me.
But, I didn’t. I finished. Not because I was granted this extra dose of a “can-do” attitude, but because I took it one day at a time.
I was intentional about what I prayed for every day. Taking it bit-by-bit and day-by-day made it doable. I didn’t expect to pray for 2-hours a day; I simply took it one intentional step at a time. The goal was to keep showing up and even if I missed a few days, to pick it right back up.
It’s about progress, not perfection.
My goal was simply to pray more in the current week than what I prayed the week before. Prayer shouldn’t be legalistic. It’s not about checking the boxes off. God is waiting for us to come talk to Him. He’s ever present and always near; something that we often forget.
Was I afraid I would forget? Yes, I was. But then, I figured if I could remember to eat three times a day, I could at least remember to pray around that same time beyond the blessing I was requesting for food.
Something happened when I consistently postured my heart towards God throughout the day. Talking to Him became a rhythm of living. I was abiding — enjoying the journey of connecting with God through a beautiful new habit of ongoing conversation.
What did I learn about starting to pray more often and more consistently? The foundational journey of prayer begins with the positioning of our hearts. It begins with thanksgiving and ends with surrender.
We have to remind ourselves of who God is. Before we come with our laundry list of needs and wants; we have to center our prayers around His character, His goodness, and His generosity. Not only does it get the focus off of us, it creates confidence in us.
Being grateful triggers remembrance, and remembrance cultivates faith.
Next, we have to examine our own hearts, taking inventory of all the places that might be disconnected from Him. That’s what sin does. It separates us from God.
Are there places in your heart that He doesn’t have access to? Is there any place that you have been hiding from Him? We cannot connect with God when we hide, and in order to experience abundant life, we need to be intimately connected to our Father. Repent of any sin that clouds our vision and breaks fellowship with our Savior. Be free to shamelessly enter the throne room of God.
After expressing thankfulness and repenting, we fearlessly show confidence in our God by asking Him for what we need. What do you really need? Have you been afraid to ask because you don’t really believe that He’ll provide for you?
He’s a good God, not just giving us what we want; but also adequately supplying our needs.
So, write it down. Bare your heart before Him and place every desire at His feet; yielding to His ultimate will being done above all.
Asking and yielding are in a delicate balance together. Yes, we can ask. But along with asking, we have to yield. This means letting go of control and leaving it all up to Him. Ask, and then let go of the breath that you have been holding in for so long. It’s not all up to you. Surrender.
After we’ve dealt with our own hearts, we have to remember that prayer is about so much more than ourselves. When’s the last time you prayed for someone else? Your family, friends, and community. “I’ll keep you in prayer.” “Sending prayers your way” should be more than just a flippant response when we find out about the struggles going on in the lives of those around us. It should be a reality.
In our day-to-day lives, we bump up against the problems, attitudes and anxiousness of everyone around us. Instead of getting irritated with our co-workers, how about praying for them? When we feel overwhelmed by the busyness of our own households, what if we paused to pray for those faces that we see every single day? Those around us need our every day prayers; in the hard times and even in the “normal” times.
Friends, prayer is a dynamic conversation between you and the Creator.
It doesn’t have to be routine, boring, or stagnant.
He longs to speak with us as one would speak to a friend. And He longs for us to talk back to Him in never-ending conversation.
Don’t miss out on connecting with the ultimate Lover of our Souls; take the time to seek out what prayer looks like for you in a time where it matters most.
Chrystal Evans Hurst is an encourager who teaches people to love God, to love others, and to love themselves. Chrystal is a wife, mother of five and grandmother of three. You can find her regularly sharing encouragement via her podcasts and blogs, where she poignantly reflects on faith and speaks with frank honesty about the everyday experiences of women. She is also a speaker and the best-selling author of She’s Still There and Kingdom Woman and the newly released, The 28-Day Prayer Journey.
With stories and Scripture, this prayer journey offers three prompts each day to guide you through an easy yet intimate prayer experience. From giving thanks, hearing God, and making requests, to simply knowing what to say — Chrystal gives practical explanations and easy steps for each aspect of prayer. Most of all, this book will strengthen your faith and transform your life with the profound experience of communicating with a loving God. Whether you are new or well-versed in communication with God, this hopeful and supportive guide will help you experience God’s presence in ways you never have before through the practice of meaningful prayer.
For anyone who longs for a consistent prayer life yet struggles with distractions, doubts, or knowing where to start, Chrystal offers a simple and heartfelt method to meaningful conversations with God, just one day at a time in The 28-Day Prayer Journey.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]