12 Ways to Jump-Start Prayer

I enjoyed this thought-provoking article by Julia Attaway, freelance writer and editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. What do you think?

Need a little something to juice up your devotional life? Chances are you already have it. Here are 12 people who probably aren’t on your prayer list—but who ought to be:

1. The guy who cut you off in traffic
2. That rude store clerk or customer-service representative
3. The thoughtless person who caused you extra work and inconvenience
4. That ineffective mother whose kid is out of control
5. The homeless man who smells so bad your eyes water
6. That unbelievably bad candidate in the opposite political party
7. The person who volunteered to help you and then didn’t follow through
8. The Christian who disillusioned or bitterly disappointed you
9. The fraud who ripped you off
10. That man or woman you always think dislikes you
11. The coworker who embarrassed you
12. That friend whom you let down and now don’t want to see

Rule of thumb: When you see red, it’s almost always a red flag—to pray for the person who made you angry.

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Six Silent Devotions

I wanted to share the following article, written by Julia Attaway, with my readers.

There’s a saying attributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

It’s had me thinking about ways to improve my relationship with God by using what I do as an act of prayer.Here are six silent devotions I came up with to start:

1. Perform a secret act of love.
Do something for someone else, for God’s eyes alone.

2. Notice an invisible person.
Look on the fringes of coffee hour, at the PTA meeting or at who’s handing you change at the grocery. Find a quiet way to acknowledge that they’re there, even if it’s just a smile.

3. Bite back one critical comment, for Jesus’s sake.
Just one. When you get good at it, go for two.

4. Get to know a non-Christian better.
Find out what God loves in him and learn to love it, too.

5. Practice being last.
Allow someone else to go first: in line, when merging in traffic, in speaking at a meeting. Work on finding a balance between assertiveness and humility.

6. Notice an unspoken need.
Ramp up your powers of observation, actively looking for people God has set in your path so that you can help them.

What can you add to the list?

5 Ways to Grow Your Faith

I read this article by Julia Attaway today and wanted to share it with my readers.

The New York Times Magazine recently ran an article about “Decision Fatigue”: Research shows that the more decisions we make in a day, the less self-control we have. Our brains get tired of making choices.

That’s why it’s easiest to blow a diet with a late-night dessert, and why we make impulse purchases at the checkout counter.

The good news is that there are things we can do to replenish our willpower. Studies show that the people who are most successful at self-control are the ones who reserve willpower for the really important things. They structure their lives so that they take breaks after they’ve made a series of decisions, eat a healthy diet and build in habits that reduce the number of choices they have to make.

What does this mean for the devotional life? It means there’s science to back up some age-old recommendations:

  1. Schedule your biggest prayer time early in the day, when you’ve most likely to follow through.
  2. Build devotions into your daily routine: Pray before meals, in the car, when you climb into bed.
  3. Find a supportive faith community, so you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to do the right thing.
  4. Team up with a prayer partner and commit to a regular time to pray; having it on your schedule makes it more likely to happen.
  5. Set house rules that encourage quiet time and devotion: Turn off the computer or TV during certain hours, so it’s easy to opt for Bible study over Facebook.

We’ve already made the big decision to follow Christ; growing in faith depends, in part, on choosing to structure our lives so that devotion to Him is a given, not a choice.

By Julia Attaway

For more devotional tips, visit Julia Attaway’s blog Seeds of  Devotion.