by Valerie Metrejean Woerner
By a show of virtual hands, how many of us want to pray more in 2021? How many of us feel like 2020 did us in and we’re not willing to take another step unless it’s hand-in-hand with the Lord?
Ah. All the virtual hands raised for hand-in-hand with the Lord, right? That image excites me. One of my very favorite verses, Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
That is right where I want to be in 2021, in his presence experiencing the fullness of joy that this world cannot attempt to replicate.
If I get really honest though, I’m tired of feeling like I start every year at the starting line of the same goal. Have you felt that way before? Like you’re weary of making it a goal to pray more? Maybe this year you’ll skip it just so you don’t have to feel the guilt that comes with feeling like it will still be your unfinished goal next year?
It creeps in in such a discouraging way but that thing we feel is a holy discontent. It’s a reminder that earth isn’t our home and we’re currently homesick for eternity with our Father. We won’t get enough of God as long as we live in this fleshly body. We can enjoy God and grow closer but we’ll always feel the tug for more.
Instead of letting it hold you back, let it propel you forward. Rejoice in the fact that you do in fact want more of God, even if you don’t feel it as much as you’d hope.
And to get really practical, make prayer more tangible. Part of why it’s hard to set a goal like “pray more” is because, how will you really know if you’ve done it? Unless it’s a drastic change, you may miss the subtle shifts that happen without some sort of tangible reminder. You might round December 2021 discouraged again instead of rejoicing in the progress made and excitedly looking to keep moving forward.
Try thinking about these things as you craft a prayer goal and make it specific and something beyond “pray more”.
What has physically kept you from praying the most in the past? Is it sleeping in? A busy schedule? How can you build prayer into a routine you already have so that it flows with greater ease? What about noise? Or do you forget what to pray for? This is why I created our monthly formatted prayer journal 7 years ago. Each month, I prayerfully fill in what I want to pray for in different categories, like the world, church, family, etc. and have it ready to go when I have a moment to pray.
What beliefs do you have about God that might not align with His Word? What do you need to understand to pray with confidence? What lie are you believing about God that’s hindering our prayers? Are we afraid of messing up?
What we believe about God affects how we pray. Consider reading through Scripture studying who God is and what prayer and God’s relationship with man looks like. It’s so insightful! Ask the tough questions and talk about them with a trusted friend or mentor.
Survey says we're all a bit afraid of praying with others. Which is why most of us probably don’t pray with others! Another important stat? Praying with others will change our prayer lives. That’s not just a hypothetical. It can’t NOT change our prayer life.
If you’re determined to grow your prayer life in 2021, commit to praying with one other person this year on a regular basis. It might be a nightly prayer with your spouse. It could be a weekly coffee date with a friend or prayer group. It might even be a Facetime or Zoom with that friend across the country. And it may even be with your grandma who’d love the chance to pray with you when you visit.
2021 won’t be the year you forget about prayer and put it to the side, but it just may be the year more time with God changes everything else.
Valerie Metrejean Woerner is an author and the owner of Val Marie Paper who lives in South Louisiana with her husband Tyler and two girls, Vivi and Vana. Since 2013, she creates prayer journals and content to help women to pray consistently, through a monthly prompted prayer journal and confidently through an online course, Developing a Fluency of Prayer. Her book Pray Confidently and Consistently: Let go of the things holding you back from your most important conversation will release Oct. 2021. You can follow Valerie on Instagram.