The book of James is one of the most helpful books in all of the Bible. Written by James, the brother of Jesus, the book has a pastoral tone and is filled with practical application. Near the end of the letter, James turns his attention to the crucial issue of prayer. He writes:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
(James 5:13-18 ESV)
The thing that immediately stands out to me in these verses is that James advises us to pray in every situation of life. Notice that he says to pray when we are suffering, when we are cheerful and when we are sick. In other words, we are to pray in the bad times and in the good. We are to pray in every situation of life.
This is important advice because I think that we all have a tendency to put prayer off to the last resort. In the bad times of life, we tend to try every other remedy before turning to the Lord in prayer. Sometimes, I will hear people say things like “well all we can do now is to pray.” On the opposite extreme, during the good times of life we often find that we neglect to praise God and to acknowledge what He is doing around us. Both of these attitudes reflect a fundamental problem that we all have — we tend to forget that God is control of every situation.
A Plan for Learning to Pray Throughout the Day
The remedy to this situation is to build a habit of praying throughout the day. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 the Apostle Paul tells us to, “Pray without ceasing.” In other words, our daily life needs to be characterized by prayer. Let me give you a suggestion for how to develop this habit in your life. First, get yourself a 4 index cards. On the first card right Adoration, on the second Confession, on the third Thanksgiving, and on the final card write the word Supplication.
Place the card that says Adoration in a place where you will see it early in the morning. Somewhere where you will be able to see it as you are first getting started on your day. Place the second card somewhere where you will see it mid-morning. For instance, if you work at an office you might want to hang it at the bottom of your computer screen. Place the third card where you will see it during the mid-afternoon and the final card where you will be able to see it during your evening meal.
In the morning when you get up and see the first card spend time praising God for who He is and what He is like. Tell Him how much you love Him and why you love Him. Try to be specific and try to praise Him for something new everyday. Then in the mid-morning when you see the card marked confession, spend a few minutes asking God for forgiveness of whatever sins that you have committed. In the afternoon thank Him for the specific blessings that you have received that day. I find that this is a good habit because sometimes I get in a bad mood during the afternoon. The stress of work, life and family tends to build up on me during the afternoon and I find it refreshing to remember and thank God for the blessings that He has given me. TRY IT! I guarantee your attitude will start to change. Then in the evening spend time praying for whatever needs you have.
What you will find over a couple of weeks is that what starts out feeling artificial will grow more natural and soon you will be talking with God throughout the day. You will become more aware of His presence and will notice a change occurring in your life.