I don’t want to be a better “pray-er.”
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to pray “better,” but that’s not my end goal. My end goal isn’t a perfect fifteen minutes each morning sitting with the Lord. My end goal isn’t a really great formula that elevates my prayers.
Prayer that affects your life
My heart’s desire is to live from the outflow of a thriving prayer life.
That nuance may seem small. Well, of course I don’t just want to pray better. I want prayer to actually affect my life. But those few words, “living from the outflow,” change the way I approach prayer. I no longer isolate my time of prayer to each morning but, instead, allow it to keep cropping up throughout my day.
Prayer throughout your day
This morning, I prayed the scriptures found in Ephesians 1:16–20 for several friends this morning:
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms (NIV).
Since my prayer, I’ve thought of other ways to love and encourage them throughout my day. I’ve thought of other ways I could pray for their lives. My prayer flowed into my day.
As I prayed for wisdom on writing projects, I was aware of that prayer and held ideas loosely, letting the Lord sift them with His Word. I also chose focus and put down my phone. My prayer flowed into my day.
Praying without ceasing
The outflow of prayer is essentially an embodiment of “praying without ceasing,” an idea the apostle Paul wrote about several times (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2). We know praying without ceasing doesn’t mean a tunnel vision, 24/7 conversation of prayer where we neglect all other people or responsibilities. Instead, it’s reacting to our daily life with a response birthed out of time we spend in God’s presence.
There is something so beautiful about that.
I feel my shoulders relax as I think about a life that flows from prayer. The things I take on and make my own responsibilities aren’t mine to have independent from the Lord. He’s told us to come to him. He’s told me His burden is light.
Matthew 11:28–30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).
As I think about the weight I feel in my life, this verse can often feel like a lie. But the truth is I feel this way because of my false expectations. I expect the light burden to find me when I’m scrolling without ceasing or planning without ceasing. I may even expect the light burden to find me when I’m complaining without ceasing or worrying without ceasing—all of which don’t bring the outflow I long for. Instead, it’s a dried-up spout that might get a trickle if you wiggle the handle just right.
Outflow of prayer
But praying without ceasing?
It’s coming to the Father and seeking Him above all else. And as scary as that sounds, what gets filtered out are the weights I’ve been carrying that I don’t even need.
The outflow of prayer in our lives makes way for more than we can ever imagine. It’s the joy found in His presence (Psalm 16:11). It’s a “perfect peace” as we fix our minds on him (Isaiah 26:3). It’s wisdom as we ask the Father for it through our days (James 1:5).
And I’d say that’s far more exciting than “praying better.”
About the author
Valerie Woerner, the creator of Val Marie Paper prayer journals, is the author of Pray Confidently and Consistently and Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday. She lives in South Louisiana with her husband, Tyler, and their two girls, Vivi and Vana.