I am passionately in love with God because he listens to me. He hears my prayers and answers them.  As long as I live I’ll keep praying to him, for he stoops down to listen to my heart’s cry.Psalm 116:1-2 TPT
I never thought my hour-long commutes would be the highlight of my day.
While the traffic is never fun, praying during these car rides has been a game changer in my relationship with God.
It’s during these times that I understand the importance of prayer, I get to slow down with God, let down about my day, thank him, and ask for help with what’s ahead of me. I often walk away feeling more excited about the day, focused on who God has put in my life to love, and willing to let others into my life, too.
Especially since my schedule has gotten busier, finding the time to pray has proven to be pretty difficult. I’ve had to get creative, making and finding time to connect with God amidst all the daily pressures and stressors. Understanding the importance of prayer and having prayers like these have been a spiritual lifeline.
Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
The scripture says clearly why we should pray. No matter how hectic life may get, nothing could help us more than taking some time to talk to God and refocus on all he’s done and can do in our lives.
Here are three ways finding and making time for prayer has impacted my life and transformed my life and connection to God:
Prayer calms my heart
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.  And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].Philippians 4:6-7 AMP
This scripture is personally challenging. It’s usually when I’m the most anxious that I want to pray the least. In my anxiety about my responsibilities, to-do list, performance at work, and trying to balance my relationships with friends and family, praying can seem unimportant.
I often convince myself that I don’t have the time. In reality, I always have at least 10-minutes in my day that I could fill with reassuring prayer, rather than sitting in my own worries.
This lighthearted CBS video gives us a glimpse into kids’ own experiences with and thoughts about worries.
Like the man says, my life can end up looking like a “big ‘ol worry fest.” I often can try to get relief from my anxiety by grinding through work, napping, or watching endless amounts of TV. However, Philippians 4 reveals that the most effective way to manage stress is through God’s way of gaining peace: grateful and humble prayer.
This kind of prayer gives us the confidence and security that our way of managing stress could never bring. When we think about all God has done in our lives already, it reminds us of God’s love and helps us believe the same can be true about our current circumstances.
The Psalms are full of great examples of grateful and humble prayers that calm our hearts. We can learn from them why prayer is important and how to have these kinds of prayers ourselves:
Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!Psalm 27:14 TPT
Pause & Reflect
- When you’re anxious, where do you go to find peace?
- What circumstances are you going through that you need peace for? In these moments, do you think to pray or even want to pray?
- Petition with thanksgiving! God wants to hear our requests, but also wants us to see the ways he’s moved in our lives already. Decide to pray about what you’re genuinely grateful for and humbly tell God what you need.
Prayer helps me focus on purpose
The next morning Jesus woke up very early. He left the house while it was still dark and went to a place where he could be alone and pray.  Later, Simon and his friends went to look for Jesus.  They found him and said, “Everyone is looking for you!”  Jesus answered, “We should go to another place. We can go to other towns around here, and I can tell God’s message to those people too. That is why I came.”Mark 1:35-38 ERV
If anyone had a busy life, it was Jesus. From morning until night, the Gospels describe Jesus as someone who constantly healed and taught those around him; he lived to love others.
Specifically in this passage, Jesus woke up before sunrise after having healed many sick and demon-possessed people earlier in the chapter (Mark 1:32-34), and walked away single-minded about what God wanted him to do.
How was he able to do this? Prayer. The time he made to spend with God reinforced God’s purpose for his life. Jesus knew that he would be bombarded by the demands of the day and that only through prayer would he be able to see past the distractions.
Sometimes when I’m at work, I have moments where I ask myself, “What am I really supposed to be doing here?”. Since it’s a new job and environment, it’s been difficult to believe that I have a bigger purpose beyond just what my immediate responsibilities are. Because of this, I end up going through the motions of the day, mostly focusing on myself and my own performance.
Recently on a drive back home from a particularly stressful day at work, I decided to pray about two of my mentors that I work with closely. Particularly I was telling God some of my frustrations, but also what I’ve noticed about them — what they care about, talk about, and what they seem to need.
This same day, I had read a scripture that really stood out to me.
For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].Ephesians 2:10 AMP
That’s when it hit me! Prayer shouldn’t always be about me. There’s so much good that God has planned for me to do for others.
From what one of my mentors has told me, she’s been having a really hard time. Since I love making art and crafting, I immediately thought about how I could draw or paint something that my mentor really loves and has been telling me about for weeks. I got so excited to just love her and encourage her.
After this prayer, I realized I probably wouldn’t have thought to do that if I hadn’t prayed. It was at that moment I learned it wasn’t that I didn’t have purpose. I just lacked the faith that I was chosen by God to do good, and wasn’t putting in the time to read and obey scriptures that were guiding me to where God wanted me to be (Proverbs 29:18 NASB).
Prayer takes away the distractions of life and gives us clarity about what God wants us to do (Proverbs 4:25). When we slow down and are honest with God, even during a walk to the bus stop or right before bed, he is able to show us who needs the most love and how we can respond.
Pause & Reflect
- When you pray, do you come out of prayer more focused on yourself or others?
- What things in your life distract you the most?
- You’re chosen! There’s no denying it at this point, and there are so many scriptures to back it up. Pray about where God has put you (your job, the city you live in, your school, who you live with, the neighbors you have, etc) and ask God to show you why he’s put you there.
Prayer does the impossible
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.  I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.  I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.Mark 11:22-24 NLT
Jesus shows us that one of the reasons we should pray often is because God can do the impossible. He also shared that our faith in and view of God is what fuels us to lead powerful and inspiring lives.
Here are two things Jesus reveals are essential for impossible prayers:
- Faith in God’s power (Jeremiah 32:27 NLT) – Prayer that isn’t limited by human possibilities or perspectives
- Faith in God’s care (Psalm 37:3-4) – Honesty in prayer because God wants to know my desires & dreams
What stands out to me from this scripture is how often I limit God based on my past experiences and what seems possible for me to do. I have a hard time believing God really cares enough to do anything.
I can think that because it seems that some of my prayers haven’t been answered in the past, that means God doesn’t care and that there’s no point in telling him what I desire. However, I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to doubt and give up on God than to have faith in who he is and pray.
A couple of scriptures that I think highlight God’s desire to do amazing things in our lives no matter what we’ve experienced in the past are:
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.Psalm 84:11 NLT
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT
These scriptures describe God doing things never before done or seen. God enjoys making the impossible happen in our lives and the lives of those around us. Typically, it’s our unbelief that keeps us from actually seeing him do it (Matthew 13:58 NLT).
As cliche as it may sound, I want to help change the world. When I see the amount of people without a home or family, hear about mass shootings, and watch as the rate of mental and emotional health challenges keeps increasing, all I think about is how much everything needs to change.
But something as big as changing the world requires a lot of faith to take on. It takes faith that God can and wants to change the world in unimaginable ways.
Like Mark 11 shows us, prayer is an opportunity to apply our faith and ask God to do the impossible. This doesn’t have to take long either! We can tell God throughout the day the things that we want to see happen that we can’t do ourselves and wait patiently for God to move.
A fair warning though – things may not happen the way we expect, but this doesn’t mean God isn’t on the job (Isaiah 55:9). God wants to do good, amazing things. He just wants us to grow in our faith while he does.
A song that’s been stuck in my head recently is “Pure Imagination” originally from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). After hearing this song on repeat for a couple days, the lyrics began to stand out to me. I think they capture God’s mindset about doing the impossible, and how all it takes are faith-filled prayers believing that he can do anything.
“If you want to view paradisePure Imagination, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There’s nothing to it”
Pause & Reflect
- Do you pray about your dreams and desires with God?
- Do you believe God is powerful? Do you believe God cares?
- Impossible prayers! Write 2-3 things in your life that you think are impossible. Find scriptures that help you believe in God’s power and care that you can hold onto while you pray for those impossible things in your life.
God is calling all of us to change our view of prayer from a once a day, ritualistic activity to a part of a very active and all-encompassing relationship with God. Like any friendship, decide to talk to God throughout your day in creative ways even if you’re busy.
- Read Psalms – a compilation of King David’s prayers and songs to God showing the frequency and depth of prayer that we can achieve with God throughout the day. Use them as examples to guide your own prayers!
- Podcast – Staying Focused On What Really Matters in the Midst of Worry
- Devotional – It Could Happen: Finding the Faith, Vulnerability, and Trust to Pray Bold Prayers