Out of all the holiday traditions we practice in this country, Americans are especially known for joining the “resolution revolution” at the start of each year.
When the clock strikes midnight and the New Year begins, millions of men and women decide it’s high time to lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthier, read more, get organized, get out of debt, spend more time with family — you name it.
These are all worthy goals.
But the sad reality is that while 91 million Americans make resolutions at the dawn of the new year, more than 70 million break their resolutions within just one week.
As a pastor, a father, a husband and a friend, I try to set a spiritually minded goal that will be beneficial to my daily Christian walk.
Having a healthy body is important, but the Bible says that growing in godliness is even better (1 Timothy 4:8). I also aim my heart toward a goal that isn’t going to evaporate in 10 days or less.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Bible holds out this important command to every Christian: “Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
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So, while ridding your body of sugar, caffeine, or stress this year, more prayer is God’s recommendation for your soul.
At first glance, the New Testament command to “pray continually” might sound like a really tall order. Does God really expect us to spend every waking moment in prayer? Not at all. If that were true, we would never have enough time to obey the rest of God’s commands, such as loving our neighbors, caring for our spouse, working hard as an employee, or providing for our children.
True prayer isn’t so much about a specific posture or place, but a prayerful attitude and a positive dependence on the Lord.
God certainly doesn’t intend for us to spend our days reciting repetitious, cold, or meaningless prayers.
So what does it mean to “pray continually”? It means that we purposefully include prayer as part of our daily routines and habits.
True prayer isn’t so much about a specific posture or place, but a prayerful attitude and a positive dependence on the Lord. It’s keeping up humble, heartfelt conversations with the Lord frequently throughout the day.
While many Christians have a daily appointment with prayer, God doesn’t want us to limit our prayer lives to a single conversation.
If you want to experience more of God’s presence in 2019 while fulfilling the Bible’s command to “pray continually,” consider these 10 unexpected ways you can fit more prayer into your daily schedule:
1.) Pray while you drive during the morning or evening commute.
2.) Pray during your lunch break — in your car, your office cubicle, the restaurant booth.
3.) Pray during your ride on the bus, the metro, or other public transportation.
4.) Pray while you get dressed, even a prayer of thanks when you first awaken.
5.) Pray while you complete your morning routines.
6.) Pray before you go to sleep each night.
7.) Pray when you wake up unexpectedly in the night. If you can’t sleep, pray.
8.) Pray before you leave for church, or pray on the way there.
9.) Pray before you embark on a long trip — by car, train, or plane.
10.) Pray with your spouse or children before bed. Encourage prayer in your household.
If some of your 2019 resolutions have already been swept away, don’t give into discouragement or despair. It’s still a brand new year — and God is ready for you to embrace a whole new season of prayer.
Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he has served for 20 years. He is also the featured Bible teacher on the “Preaching for a Change” weekly podcast.