Last summer, Fred and I went to Cleveland, Tennessee, to work with a mission group by helping an elderly widow at her house. One of the main things we did for her while we were there was paint her house. We painted part of her house a neutral light yellow. When we got home we unloaded the van, hugged our boys, and went to bed. The next morning when I went outside I noticed yellow paint on my bumper. I’m sure someone sat down on my tailgate during the work day and got a little paint on my van. No big deal, really. I started to wipe it off, but I decided to keep it there. You see, every time I see that paint I’m reminded of several things. I’m reminded to pray for the work that is continuing in Cleveland, Tennessee. I’m reminded to pray for the organization that led our group. I’m reminded to pray for the precious lady that lived in the house. I reminded of my neighbors and ways I can serve them. My list could go on and on, and that’s just from a yellow dot of paint on the bumper of my van about the size of a quarter. It may not be noteworthy to anyone else, but to me, it holds valuable meaning.
I call these prayer triggers.
Actually, one of Fred’s favorite professors and mentors from seminary, Dr. Chuck Lawless, called them prayer triggers in an article that he wrote in 2013, called “Ten Simple Strategies for Prayer.” I would highly encourage you to read his article. It changed my life and the way I view prayer.
As a task oriented, list making, constantly moving female my prayer life will easily become a check list. After reading Dr. Lawless’s article, I began to adopt the passage of scripture, “praying without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Now prayer is more of a season or attitude instead of a check list. (Please note that I try to do this. I fight my task oriented, list making tendencies. The key words are try and fight. Yes, I am a work in progress. Goodness me, I am.)
Some of the prayer triggers I use are:
-When I see a house for sale, I pray for the people selling it and the people buying it. I pray for all the neighbors involved. I pray that if there is a Christian in the mix he/she will make a difference and that God’s name will be known.
-When the National Anthem is played I pray for our government…federal, state, local. I thank God for those who fight and have fought for my freedom. And I thank Him for the ultimate freedom I have through His son, Jesus.
-When an ambulance or fire truck passes, I pray for the person needing the service and for the people giving the service. I pray for safety, calm spirits, and swift hands. I pray for the family that is affected by the situation that God would bring comfort.
-When I see a school I pray for the students, teachers and administrators. I pray that the Christians (whether they be students or adults) would be the influencers, rather than the influenced.
-When I pass a church facility I pray for the pastor (by name, if it’s on the sign, or if we know him), the congregation, and unity in that body.
I have a confession. I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing this. The paint on the back of my car “triggered” the memory of this practice and I’ve missed it. So, I’m bringing it back…and I want you to join me. Who’s with me? Do you have any other “prayer triggers”? I’d love to hear them. Let’s all enter into this challenge together. I wouldn’t suggest putting paint on your bumper, but if it’s already there I say just embrace it!