For Christians, prayer is an important part of our spiritual life, integral to our relationship with God. But it’s not always as easy as it seems. Many of us aren’t satisfied with our prayer lives. It can seem repetitive or stale. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, praying the same things over and over or not knowing what to pray for. In a recent episode of Indigitous PULSE, we discussed this topic with two people who are doing innovative things with prayer.
Andy Geers, the CEO at Discipleship Tech, created a mobile app called PrayerMate. The mobile app is designed to help us pray consistently for the people and causes we care about. With the app’s help, we can develop a discipline of prayer as PrayerMate helps us get organized, know what to pray for, and actually take time to pray.
The difficulty of prayer
“It’s okay to acknowledge that prayer is hard. The apostle Paul compared it to a wrestling match,” Andy says.
Prayer seems easy. It’s basically just talking to God. But for many of us, it can be a struggle. Prayer is about relying on God, which goes against how many of us like to think of ourselves as independent. To develop a habit of prayer, Andy recommends picking a certain time each day and making that a daily prayer time. For many people, it’s when they wake in the morning, but it could be any time that works.
There might be some people in our life – family members, close friends – who we pray for every day, but that can get really repetitive. To get out of that rut of repetition, it helps to have specific prayer requests for each person, so our prayer doesn’t become generic.
But there are also people we don’t know as well – coworkers, neighbors, old friends that we don’t see often anymore – as well as broader needs for a school, organization, people group, or even country. These are people we’re likely to forget about. We might not remember to pray for them at all, and if we do remember, we’re likely to be unsure of how to pray. “That’s where I find having prayer lists or resources really helpful to broaden my prayer horizons,” Andy says.
Before creating the app, Andy kept various prayer lists for the people he wanted to pray for, but even with the lists, he found praying to be repetitive. In addition, he often received prayer letters from church and missionary workers, but it was difficult to keep track of those letters and the requests from them. Andy created PrayerMate to help organize those prayer lists, keep his prayers from getting repetitive, and form helpful prayer habits.
PrayerMate has default prayer lists such as:
- My Walk With God
- Biblical Prayers
- My Family
- My Church
- Sharing My Faith
- World Mission
Under each list, we can add appropriate prayer items. We can also add our own custom lists. “I found it helpful to create new lists for other responsibilities I have, such as my workplace, my wider family, things like that,” Andy says.
Under each list, we can add a nested list. For example, on our Family list, we can have separate prayer lists for mom, dad, and spouse. Each day, PrayerMate will give us a prayer session that curates prayer points from our various lists. We can customize how many things we want to pray for in a given day.
“It’s helping me pray broadly because those lists help me capture all the different people I want to be praying for over time, but it also helps me pray a manageable number each day,” Andy says.
Another feature that PrayerMate has is groups, which are basically shared lists. We can create a group, invite other people to join the group, and then everyone can contribute prayer requests and pray for each other. “I do it with my small group at church. Each week we share prayer requests and I can write them all down in the group,” Andy says. “Throughout the week, it gives me different ones to pray for each time.”
Another benefit of using prayer groups is being able to track those prayer requests over time. It can be easy to forget about things we’ve prayed for in the past, but by looking at old lists in PrayerMate, it’s easier to see where God has answered prayers.
“I find it very helpful because often you ask for prayer in small group and a week later people have forgotten that you even asked it,” Andy says. With a simple prompt from PrayerMate, we can ask for an update, find out how things are going, and celebrate together when God answers prayers.
PrayerMate also has event reminders that we can set. If we want to pray for someone’s job interview or surgery, we can set a reminder so we can actually pray at the time it will be happening. That can also be a helpful prompt to follow up after to ask how it went.
If we’re looking for additional prompts, PrayerMate has a number of devotionals and prayer plans in the app as well.
Shaking things up
In the same Indigitous PULSE episode, we talked to Paul Konstanski, a project specialist for the global leadership at Cru. Paul talked about ways to revitalize our prayer life by trying something new. If we’re used to praying in a quiet room, try going on a prayer walk. If we’re used to praying silently, try doing it out loud. We can also look for ways to pray for people we might not ever think about praying for.
“I always struggled with trying to sit down for an extended period of time to just be in prayer. And then a friend of mine – he knew that I love to be outside – he said, ‘Why don’t you go on a prayer walk? Rather than try to sit at a desk or try to sit in an easy chair in the living room, just get outside. Go where you love being and let that be the place that you talk to God,’” Paul says.
A lot of Christians have ideas of what prayer is supposed to look like. They think of “quiet time” in a dark room in the house, but for Paul, taking a walk in nature works better. The key is finding a place where we can connect with God; it doesn’t matter where it is.
Like Paul’s friend helped him, our own friends can help our quest for a more vibrant prayer life. We can ask them how they pray and what has worked for them. Everyone is different, but there may be someone who has an idea that would work well for us.
Pray for Five
That’s not the only way Paul innovates with prayer. Do you like watching sports? If so, have you ever thought about using that as a prayer activity?
Paul is leading a prayer campaign called Pray For Five, a simple campaign that helps us pray for athletes taking part in sporting events. Previous campaigns involved praying for athletes during the Olympics, with the current campaign focusing on the NCAA Tournament, a popular basketball tournament in the United States.
Through the Pray for Five website, we can get a list of five athletes to pray for. We can either get a random list of players (a Quick Five) or, if we want to choose for whom to pray, we can use a series of filters to select them. The players will then send us prayer requests and we have the ability to pray for them on the spot or at a time that fits our schedule. All of that can be done anonymously or we can create an account to have more interaction with the athletes. In that case, we will be able to pray for them in real time and share that we prayed.
“The idea behind it is to breathe a breath of fresh air into your prayer life,” Paul says. As we watch the games, we can pray for our players and root for them as they compete. “What we’re wanting is as a person sits down to watch the game, they’re not just watching the game. They have this mindset of prayer and they’re thinking about these athletes … just to be in the spirit of prayer and make it more personal.”
Praying for the players can also help us develop a habit of encouraging others. Even without a specific campaign, we have many opportunities in life to encourage and uplift others, but often we let those opportunities pass by without acting on them. Taking part in Pray for Five can be a way of practicing being an encouragement to the people in our lives.
Find your groove
Prayer is more of an art than a science. It’s important to find a way of praying that feels natural, that helps us connect with God, and is something that we will want to do regularly. “It’s finding that groove that really works for you, to identifying that, and just really working at sticking with it,” Paul says.