Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Five Steps to Healthy Praying Habits for the Persecuted

prayer_wIt’s funny where a person can get some ideas from. Or maybe it’s just the way that I am wired, but the other day as I was reading through the Readers Digest, I ran across an ad for Listerine (a mouthwash sold here in Canada) in which was listed five step to developing healthy habits. As I looked them over, I thought, “These are actually pretty good.” And then it struck me that these same five steps (slightly modified, of course) could also be helpful in developing healthier prayer habits on behalf of persecuted Christians. I think many of us know we should pray more regularly for persecuted believers but we forget or we start off great and then peter out.

The fact is, it often does take more than just willpower to develop healthy habits. Developing a good habit is like making a ceramic vase, creating a mould into which the liquid ceramic mixture can be poured into and allowed to set. Eventually, the mixture matures and hardens and the mould can be taken a way and the genuine article remains. So, prayer (as with most healthy habits) means building moulds into our lives, structures or patterns that allow us to be moulded and shaped, matured, gradually becoming the people that we want to become, by God’s grace. Eventually, the artificial mould can be removed but the habit remains.

So, here are my suggested Five Steps to Healthy Praying Habits for the Persecuted.

1. Be specific about what habit of prayer you want to develop and write it down. Example: “I will pray for my persecuted brothers and sisters every morning and evening.” or “Each morning I will pray for one person mentioned in this month’s Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter” or “I will pray each evening for one of the situations reported in this week’s Persecution and Prayer Alert.”

2. Tackle only one habit at a time, make it attainable and measurable. Give yourself a month to fully integrate this habit into your life. Make sure that it is something you can realistically do. You might want to track your progress by dropping a loonie into a jar every time you complete your task.

3. Set up a reminder system. Example: Put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror, in your wallet, on the fridge, or your car’s dashboard with a reminder message, e.g., pray for the persecuted this morning.

4. Start now. No procrastinating or excuse making. Write your start date and end date on the piece of paper where you wrote down the habit that you want to develop.

5. Reward yourself. Now you’ll know why I mentioned putting a loonie in a jar in #2. At the end of the month, take the money you saved and either buy a book or a DVD or some other resource on the persecuted that will help you to deepen your habit of prayer. Or perhaps you might want to donate it to a specific project that assists the persecuted in some way.

I think you’ll find that once you start this habit of prayer, you’ll keep it up. We at our office started praying specifically for the persecuted each morning at 9:00 each morning in January 2008. I don’t think we’ve missed a day since and it is amazing to see what God has done in answer to these prayers!


Zach said...

Yes! As I go to minister in Haiti for 5 months, one of my goals is to continue to pray for the persecuted church. This article makes sense, that is, I need to build a system in which I will develop this habit so that it can become ingrained into my daily life. Thank you for sharing this deep insight from Listerine!

Glenn Penner said...

Glad you found it helpful. All the best in Haiti!