The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

My Three Best Prayer Hacks: #1

Posted on: February 23, 2016

Prayer Hacks #1.001

PRAYING DAILY WITH MY WIFE IS MY FIRST PRAYER HACK

All of you already knew this, but I just recently learned that the word “hack” has taken on an additional meaning. It used to mean:

  1. A loud sharp cough coming from the chest.
  2. To cut with rough or heavy blows.
  3. To do a job poorly
  4. To gain unauthorized access to data on a computer.

Now, keying off the idea of computer hacking, a new use of the word has evolved to mean:

  1. To demonstrate cleverness or ingenuity.
  2. To quickly overcome a problem.
  3. An uncommon or not-well known solution to a problem.
  4. Not the most straightforward or expected solution.

So in this context, my definition of a prayer hack is: an a-typical approach to more consistent and effective prayer. I have three of them. I will share one each week for the next three weeks.

In saying this, I do not want to leave the impression that I am a great “natural pray-er”. I am not. Anything I have to offer on prayer is a reflection of my weakness, not my strength. But, having been a Christian now for more years than some of you have been alive, I can look back and see progress in the area and thought it might be helpful to pass on some of what I have learned along the way, the hard way.

My greatest challenge in prayer is not a lack of interest or an unwillingness to pray, but rather a tendency to get so preoccupied with the demands of the day that I have a terrible time keeping my mind on the task. I have found that whatever I can do to lasso my mind and tie it to prayer is a helpful thing.

Therefore, my first prayer hack is praying with my wife daily. This doesn’t sound all that unorthodox or clever. In fact, it might sound to you like something all ministers should do. However, my unscientific observation is that it is not all that common. It is often very difficult for two people to coordinate their schedules closely enough to pull it off every day.

In fact, in Timothy Keller’s book, Prayer, he tells how he and his wife began praying together daily after many years of not doing so. Shortly after the nightmare of 9/11 (Keller’s church is in New York), his wife was struggling with Crohn’s disease and he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His wife asked him if he would pray with her every night. Keller wasn’t sure he could pull it off.

Then, his wife said: “Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine – a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss it or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to some nights? No – it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds. (Timothy Keller, Prayer, Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, page 11)

Keller said something clicked with both of them that night, and they have not missed a single day since. Even when they been in different hemispheres.

I tell that story not to suggest that this is what or how anyone else needs to do it. Rather, I tell it as an example of the fact that many people, even very well-known people, may have difficulty praying together with others.

Like Keller, the impetus for me to pray with my wife daily came from my wife, not myself. I take no credit for it. But over the decades that we have been praying together nightly, I recognize it as a major source of grace in my life, and in others’ lives as we have prayed for them. I’m deeply grateful to the Lord and to my wife for their initiative… for making more out of me than I would have made out of myself.

It may not work for you to pray with your spouse daily.  Your schedule may be too irregular to do anything regularly. You may not be married. But if you struggle with consistency in prayer, if that is a battle you have been fighting and losing, you may find that committing to praying regularly with another person can help you over that hurdle. Do you have a close friend (men with men, women with women) a mentor, a Christian co-worker, etc.? You may not pray daily with them. It might be weekly or even monthly. Or, this simply may not be an answer for you. But I have found, and others have found, that praying with someone else is a way to achieve consistency that often is not achieved any other way.

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