1. Make prayer part of your daily routine for two weeks.
2. For the first week, start with five minutes. Add two minutes a day till you hit 15 minutes that week.
3. In the second week, challenge yourself to add three minutes a day till you hit 30 minutes a day!
When I received the challenge, I was a little worried that I would not be able to complete it. Also, I have school every day, and some days, I’m out the whole day. Where was I going to find the time to pray? However, despite my worries, I also felt excited to challenge myself to make prayer part of my daily life and to see what God wants to place on my heart to pray for.
When I think of prayer, sometimes I struggle with what to pray for or how to even start! What better way to learn about prayer than from Jesus Himself and how He prayed using the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13)?
The word “hallowed” means holy. I always thought that it meant to lift up God’s name and glorify Him but I realised that there was so much more to it. When we begin our prayers with “hallowed be your name”, we are proclaiming that God’s word be glorified, His commandments be obeyed, and His name be glorified. It reminds us to trust God in what we are praying for, and let things that we are praying for come from a heart of obedience. For me, this declaration taught me to trust in God no matter what His answer to my prayers might be. Even if the answers are not what I desire for, I was challenged to trust that He knows better than I do and His plans for me are good.
Also, there is a reason why Jesus teaches us to pray for “our daily bread”. It is to signify that prayer is a daily thing and that He will give me what I need for each day. It is so comforting to know that God already knows what I need before I even ask. However, He still wants me to come before Him because He longs for me, His child, to converse with Him.
Something I feel that God is impressing on my heart to pray about in this two-week challenge is for my community in school. In particular, I feel led to pray for my school to be a place where the character of Jesus is shown. Instead of it being a place where foul and coarse language is really common, it will be a place that is filled with love and compassion instead.
Even before I could embark on the prayer challenge, I was struggling to step away from what I was busy with and spend time meditating on the Word and prayer. As school submissions were piling up, my mind was constantly on my work and I was very easily distracted. Through the week of meditating on the Lord’s Prayer, I felt that God was gently reminding me that I have been neglecting my time with Him. I was also constantly worried about my assignments. But I was reminded of Matthew 6:11, which says, “Give us today our daily bread”; it was a reminder to me that God is my provider in everything. I was worried and striving to achieve great results and had forgotten my #1 priority which is spending time with Him. I had to learn how to pray that I would not give in to worries and distractions easily. I also prayed for my heart to be realigned.
On the first day of praying for five minutes, it was pretty easy as the duration was short. I read Matthew 6:9-13 and prayed a short prayer. The next couple of days were manageable as well. It was on the sixth day where I had to pray for 15 minutes that I felt challenged. I remembered that there were moments where I didn’t know what to pray about! My mind was blank. It was hard to concentrate and not let my thoughts drift. The seventh day also required me to pray for 15 minutes. I decided to start my prayer session with a short prayer first that I would not get distracted and for God to open my eyes and heart to Him. I went on to pray for the Holy Spirit to also be with me and guide me as I prayed for my school community.
In the midst of submissions week, I frequently heard my friends talk about how their projects were going. Sadly, many were complaining about their group mates. As I listened to them, I confess that sometimes I was unsure of what to say. I wanted to be an understanding friend and listen to their struggles. But on the other hand, in my attempts to be understanding, it was easy to be a part of joining the conversations that were in actuality gossip sessions. Deep down, I knew that such conversations would only spark more frustration and conflict towards the targeted person. This reaffirmed why God wanted me to pray for my school community!
This week, the duration for prayer each day increased gradually from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Strangely enough, I felt that the depth of my prayer session increased too! It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. With more time, I did not have to rush. I could meditate on the Word first before beginning to pray. 30 minutes in prayer was not as difficult as I thought it might have been! With whatever that happened with my friends this week, I was compelled to pray for my friends and for God to allow my speech to bring life instead of tearing people down.
Throughout these two weeks of meditation and prayer, there were definitely many moments where I struggled with tiredness, stress from school work and distractions. However, I’ve learnt to love and prioritise prayer. I now believe that prayer is important in deepening my relationship with God. It is a form of communication between God and me and communication is so important in any relationship! My initial fears at the beginning of the two-week challenge were unfounded.
I was actually able to pray for 30 minutes daily if I chose to. All I just needed to do is to stop giving myself excuses, find a quiet corner away from distractions, meditate on the Word and pray. It is easier said than done but it is not impossible!