I moved closer and peered at the board to check the list. Alas, I had missed a few points during quiet time in the morning, so I proceeded to pause and say a prayer or two on the missed points and then made a note to re-align and update all my mobile technology (phones, PCs, Ipods), and then went on my way.
Whilst on my way, I started thinking about the whole notion of starting out well this year, which in turn reminded me of what my mum used to tell her kids every morning when we were getting ready for school. “start as you mean to go along” . Her meaning to be; if you want to have a successful day and a life, then you should start good, start well. which means rising up from the bed early!
She would say this everyday, backed up with… “Go to bed early. So you can rise up early, say your prayers, make your bed (you will get a few lashes if you don’t), eat breakfast and then arrive early to class refreshed and rearing to start the day”! It was a hard thing to do, because some days all I wanted to do was stay in bed. However if I wanted to get good results at the end of the school term, I knew better than to be left behind in bed! I always wanted to be amongst the top five in my class, which meant I had to "start as I meant to go along"!
This brings me to ask the question “Are we starting this year as we mean to go through it”? Are we starting on a high, medium, low or below par standard?There are many things we can do and may different areas in our lives we can reform or refine, to help us start well, and a few are:
- Writing out our plan of actions for the year
- Fasting at least once a week
- Attending fellowship meetings – other than Sunday service
- Getting to work that bit extra early
- Register or dust off that gym membership and rescue the bulging waistline
- Increase of knowledge – reading at least one book a month – and then increasing
- Enrolling on a course, taking an exam
- Changing jobs / careers
Apart from the suggested list above, an increased and effective prayer life is one of the major areas we need to “start as we mean to go along.”
Prayer is not just reciting and ticking off our “God I want you to do for me list” but having conversations with him – we talk, he listens and then he talks and we listen.
In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to have a refined and meaningful prayer life; to put aside a specific time and a place to do it in! However, it is an important aspect of our lives that will most definitely need refining, improvement and kept active.
"To know, understand, get meaning on and answers to the questions about the dreams, aspirations God has laid within our hearts, and his will for us, we must have a two-way relationship with God. we must speak and listen to him".
Reading the Bible for example will definitely conjure up an avalanche of questions. For starters, imagine reading the book of Job, and seeing what Job went through and not going... What? but Lord why could you... ?!
Thus, we must and should sit at the masters’ feet, at certain times, in certain places, alone to be with just him, to ask and listen, or just love on him and him on us!
This year, I pray by God’s grace to have a more refined prayer life, and one of the things that constantly helps me is that visible prayer board. It helps me to keep prayers in focus when I am at home. When I am on the move I use all the technology available to me (I did say I love technology). At work, we have a quiet room, and I make full use of it. It’s not an easy discipline I tell you, but with time and by God’s grace it gets easier.
What about you? Why not try it and see and then come back and tell me about the changes you see.
On that note, "what do you think will or might work for you as a visible reminder to pray about all the hopes and dreams that God has placed within your heart; a reminder to intercede for that your brother, sister, friend, family, your sanctuary, your residential location, your country or where you work"? What visual reminder will help you have an increased, refined and effective prayer life? A few suggestions are:
- A visual board like mine.
- A note on the fridge, on the wall or door?
- The first hour when you wake up, or when everyone has gone to sleep?
On the move:
- A handwritten or printed prayer areas in your wallet / handbag
- Written prayer reminders in a small notebook or a diary
- A reminder programmed into your mobile phone, play station or game boy
- A message on your iPod, music or an audio version of the bible – listening to this will encourage and prompt prayer
- In your car, just as you park at the station, or when you have dropped the kids off to school
- Part of your lunch break: taking a reflection walk, pray whilst you walk, a quiet room (if your company has one), an empty meeting room (you can even book a meeting room – if it is free. It is a meeting with God after all)
In the gym (you knew this was coming right!):
- On the treadmill: listening to messages or an audio version of the bible and praying as you do so, besides you are getting two rewards for the price of one action, keeping your temple(body) fit and enriching your soul – check out http://www.hisfittemple.blogspot.com/
The above are just a few suggestions, but I’m sure there are more. Wherever it is, and what ever time we carve out to do it in, I encourage us all to find a time and a place to be alone with God. A place where we can have that much needed one to one conversation or to simply be still in his presence.
We need wisdom and discernment to know what to do with and how to operate and in this season of change that God has brought about.
So to us all, I say…
“On your Marks, Get Set, and Go”…..
Have a wonderful time refining yourself, whilst running the race that God has set ahead of you, making him famous along your way.