Over the last year, God has been convicting me about the lack of pizazz in my prayer life. Every morning when I wake up, I feel a sincere tug telling me to get out of bed and pray, while the house remains still. But as a new mom, I often decide to use those few extra minutes to sleep. Sure, I pray randomly throughout the day, but I am missing the QUIET, one-on-one, dedicated time with God. Cue War Room. If you have not seen this film, stop reading and make a plan to see the movie. Seriously. I mean it. Open a new tab, and find the movie! Once that's complete, continue reading.
As soon as I heard about War Room, I knew I HAD to see it. I sensed it was the kick I needed to rejuvenate my prayer life. In the film, an elderly woman (Miss Clara) mentors a young woman (Elizabeth) who is struggling in her marriage. In short, the seasoned woman teaches the younger one to heal her marriage by taking her worries, fears, and heartache to God, instead of fighting with and nagging her husband. Miss Clara shows Elizabeth her war room, or prayer closet, where she does all her "fighting." The couple's marriage is transformed once Elizabeth practices Miss Clara's principles of prayer, releasing her cares to the Lord and letting Him handle the situations that burden her. Utterly refreshing!
When the film was over, I immediately began thinking about where I could set up a war room in our home, but every closet was occupied. As a military family, we use every square inch of storage! As we move from house to house (seven in as many years), we accumulate more and more stuff, on top of the trillion pounds of military gear we're forced to move to each new location. So, I asked God to show me a place in the house I could clear out for this purpose. And He did, our coat closet. It was pretty easy to relocate everything. Coats to our bedroom closet, cleaning supplies to the garage, and games to the playroom. Now came the fun part, organizing my very own prayer closet! In the film, Miss Clara's room is stark--a chair, her Bible, and couple pieces of paper on the wall. However, I thrive on neatness and things that appeal to the eye, so I planned to add a little more on the design front. To each his own!
Your prayer space could be a closet (or in a cleared out area of any closet in your home). It could be a section of your living room, in front of the toilet (really), in your breakfast nook, or a space in your garage. Get creative if you have to in order to make it work. If there's absolutely no space to create a prayer area, then compile your images, Scripture verses, and prayers in a journal. It's all the same--dedicated, quiet, one-on-one time with the Lord.
I started to design my closet by searching Google and Pinterest for ideas on creating a prayer room. There wasn't much out there that inspired me, so I switched to searching for free Scripture and prayer printables that I could hang up in my prayer room. I created a Pinterest board called "Prayer Closet" where you can find the awesome resources I discovered. There are beautifully designed documents with Bible verses, and printables about praying for yourself, your husband, and your children.
In a recent Bible study, I gained significant empowerment from Ephesians 3:20. I learned that my prayers were not big enough, that God is capABLE of far beyond what I was requesting of Him. With that in mind, I created the below sign to hang in my prayer closet. Next to it, I placed a list of my loved ones and some of my friends' loved ones that need Jesus. I also made a sign displaying "The Prayer of St. Francis." I saw this captivating prayer at the funeral of a beautiful woman who is now rejoicing in Heaven. Her spirit embodied the words of this prayer, and I was deeply inspired to live my life with such compassion and love. Lastly, I made an image to display Philippians 4:8, one the most impactful verses for me. You can download all three files below for free.
In the film, Miss Clara has a framed piece of paper entitled "Answered Prayers" hanging on her wall. I loved this idea and decided to create one for my prayer space. In just one month of utilizing my prayer room I've been able to add five items to my answered prayer list--hallelujah! I receive palpable encouragement from seeing this sheet each day and the names that fill the spaces. Download this file below.
After searching for items to hang in the closet, I decided on the seating: none. I wanted the room to be conducive to praying on my knees. I took a couple pillows from our couch and placed them neatly against the wall to provide a little comfort. Then, I purchased a string of lights from Walmart; luckily, the closet has an outlet. If yours doesn't, you can use a battery operated light. On the top shelf, I placed a painting my brother composed of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, a pen, a pad of paper, a couple Christian books, my prayer journal, and a box of push pins. On the floor sits my Bible and the book Fervent, which was inspired by the film War Room and written by the lead actor, Priscilla Shirer. Lastly, I put a notebook, crayon, children's Bible, and kid's prayer journal in the room for when my daughter joins me.
I know we don't have an image of Jesus to look at on this side of Heaven, but I love this painting by Akiane. I pinned this picture directly in front of where I sit. I know He hears me when I pray throughout the day, but I feel like my prayers are more passionate and pointed when I'm looking into His eyes. Next to His image, I placed two Bible verses that I recite to begin my prayer time--one on thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and one on repentance (Psalm 139:23-24).
Next, I printed off pictures of my family. Seeing their beautiful faces each day helps me to pray more fervently. Next to my husband's picture, I pinned a list of handwritten prayers that I offer up each day, along with a couple printables that aide me in covering him in a more comprehensive manner. Next to my children's pictures, I posted their life verses, the meaning(s) of their names, a list of my daily prayers for them, and a couple printables that suggest a different prayer for each day of the month. Just above the pictures of my children and husband hangs an image of each of my immediate family members and my in-laws.
Above the pictures of my family, I pinned a picture of my husband's former company in the Army. These soldiers are currently deployed, AGAIN, and I want to cover them in prayer every day. The Lord knows they need it! During my husband's first deployment to Afghanistan his helicopter was shot down--15 rounds went through his aircraft and a rocket propelled grenade miss the nose of his Apache by one foot. The people back home who faithfully prayed for his safety saved his life that day. Believing this, I understand how vital it is that we continue to pray for our troops. I also put up my blue star service flag (which military families hang in a window to represent a deployed soldier) to remind me to pray for the families of Charlie Company, and all those with loved ones currently serving to protect our nation. In addition to praying for our soldiers and their families, it is imperative that we pray for our president. I pray for Obama's salvation and that he leads this country according to God's will, surrounding himself with advisors that are disciples of Christ. I also pray for the upcoming election and that the Lord will place a man or woman of God in command.
On the back wall of the closet, I put up prayers for myself. Here's what it contains thus far: a handwritten list of prayers I want to lift up daily, Hebrews 12:1, a sign that offers 30 prayers for wives, a sign that lists ten daily prayers for mothers, the logo of the pregnancy center where I volunteer, and "The Prayer of St. Francis."
Next to my personal prayers, I posted three separate prayer lists, one with the names of my friends, one with a list of people who have health concerns, and one with the names of loved one who are pregnant.
God began speaking to me about starting this journey one year ago, and I hated the feeling I experienced as I denied His urging each day, choosing sleep instead of quiet time with Him. Since beginning this endeavor a few short weeks ago I feel transformed, which happens every time I finally say "Yes!" to His plan. (Why can't I just agree the first time?!) Creating this closet has allowed me to focus much more intently on my prayers. I can shut out all distractions, and concentrate on the images, names, and Scriptures that surround me. I hope that this space also allows me to hear God more effectively and to listen as the Holy Spirit stirs within me. Prior to setting up my prayer closet, I might spend 5-15 consistent minutes praying (in addition to my random prayers during the day). Now, with everything I have posted in my prayer room, I can actually spend an hour or more with the Lord. I've often heard of people who would pray for hours and I couldn't understand how it was possible to stay intentional for that length of time and come up with that much to discuss with the Lord. Now, I do.
Utilizing my prayer room is deepening my relationship with God, helping me to be more Christ-like, and blessing my loved ones in the most significant way. On top of all of these benefits, one of the most profound results that's come from a dedicated prayer space is the growth I'm seeing within my daughter. When she wakes up in the early morning, she joins me in the closet and points out who she wants me to pray for, often saying a prayer herself. She's also started to memorize Bible verses with me and mastered several already, before the age of three. I cannot express the pride and elation I feel hearing my two-year-old recite God's Word. Adeline also likes to help me pick a Bible reading for the day, not that she sticks around long enough to hear it all. As she sees me modeling a prayer life, I hope this endeavor will imprint on her heart, making it only natural for her to make prayer a priority in her life, for all of her days.
Now, I still have not mastered the art of rising at 5:30 every morning to pray, but I'm at about five days a week. On the other mornings, I might wait an extra hour until my husband takes the children and our dog for a walk so I can pray in quiet at a little more reasonable of an hour. And when that doesn't happen, I have the option of praying when the kids nap or after they've gone to bed. However, I've discovered those last two options don't work well for me. At nap time I'm beyond exhausted from instructing and negotiating with a strong-willed toddler for seven hours, and once the children are in bed, I'm all the more pooped and need to spend time with my husband.
I'm learning that the most effective prayer time (for me) is before anyone else is awake. It allows me time to pray for a sufficient length, sans noise, and focuses my spirit for the day to come. I am not a morning person, so God is challenging me in this area, but saying Psalm 90:14 each time I enter my closet, before the sun rises, puts me in the right place to begin my quiet time with God: "Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." I'm discovering that there is an abundance of blessing from "sacrificing" sleep, and that in fact, this is no sacrifice. For when my days are complete in this world, I'll not wish I'd spent more time sleeping, but that I'd invested more time in my relationship with the Lord.
Do you have a prayer closet or a prayer space in your home? I'd love to hear your ideas!