We’re all about to climb Mt. Everest.
Corporately, we have committed to cover over 30,000 consecutive minutes in prayer. This is not a small task or simply a nice idea. I don’t want to overstate it, but this is the kind of thing that changes a community forever. This is one of those acts of faith and obedience that God works in and through in undeniable ways. All that to say, buckle up! We could be on the verge of a divine earthquake. Who knows how far the aftershocks might reach?!
The 30,240 minutes have been broken up into 20-minute periods. Some people have signed up for one slot while others have signed up for 3 slots back to back. Whether you're praying for 20, 40, or 60 minutes, spending that much time in prayer can be more challenging than you think. If you’re feeling a little intimidated or uneasy about praying for that long, here are 3 pointers that have helped me in my own time of extended prayer.
Pick a Place
We all have a nook in the corner or spot in the house that is our “spot.” I’m guessing you’re even a little neurotic about it (it’s ok—we all are). If you want to succeed in extended times of prayer, you need to have a spot. Make sure it’s quiet and free from distractions. If you’re married and/or have kids, make sure they are aware that you’re off limits when you’re in your spot. I know it sounds a little intense, but every soldier does extreme preparation before they go to battle. Find a place, stay in the same place every time you pray, and if necessary, make sure people know it’s your “place.”
Pray Out Loud
If you’re like me, you struggle to concentrate when your prayers never materialize past thoughts. To combat a wandering mind, pray out loud. This has done wonders for my prayer life because it forces me to be more thoughtful in what I say and more focused on what I’m praying for. It has opened me to be more sensitive to where the Spirit might be leading my time of prayer. It will feel weird, but it works. (Side note: you might look/sound like a crazy person, so make sure the place you pick is semi-private.)
Utilize All Your Senses
Two simple additions have enabled my prayers to be longer: (1) instrumental music and (2) a lit candle. There is something about engaging more of my senses that helps me relax and focus. If you’re musically-minded, find a chill instrumental album and let it play softly in the background. It drowns out the creaks and cracks that so often interrupt the quiet. The introduction of a candle was a tip I heard years ago. A lit candle serves as a reminder that the presence of God is with me in prayer. I don’t think God is in the candle or anything, but it’s a great symbol that I’m not alone.
There is no reason to be intimidated by extended times of prayer. If you feel a little worried or nervous, remember this: growth is hard in the moment but worth it in the long run. And grace always abounds. If after 34 seconds of prayer your mind is already making a grocery list, snap out of it, refocus, and try again. Don’t be discouraged. Swim in grace, and find ways to make prayer work for you.