Challenge Day 10

Review. On August 10, I started creating daily challenge posts as part of the Writing Life Challenge. I wanted to encourage people to spend time in prayer and in God’s word each day, but simply telling people what I do didn’t seem to be the way to do it. This challenge was born instead, and has (for me) taken on a life of its own—it has become a study. The challenge comes in when someone chooses to take the time to do it. Each day so far, the study/challenge has asked us to look at a different aspect of prayer:

Day 1: Thankfulness & Prayer
Day 2: Praise & Prayer
Day 3: Watchfulness & Prayer (my favorite so far!)
Day 4: Devotion & Prayer
Day 5: How to Pray
Day 6: Who to Pray For
Day 7: What to Pray For
Day 8: When to Pray
Day 9: Where to Pray (a close second favorite!)

Today’s Challenge. Did you catch that? If you’ve been following along on the challenge posts, I usually put “Today’s Inspiration” before the challenge. But today, putting the challenge first felt natural. That’s because I’m sure, if you read the review, you know what question we’re asking today: Why should I pray?

Closeup of a painted, decorative metal container in light and shadows. Photo text: Challenge Day 10, Why to Pray. #writinglifeaugustchallenge.

Earlier in the challenge, I suggested an answer to this already: We pray because prayer is the way we communicate with God. We can’t get to know someone unless we communicate with them in some way, and God has given us prayer as a means to come to know him. God wants us to come to him with everything—nothing is too small (or too big!) for us to take to him in prayer. But if you look at the question above, it’s a personal one, written in the first person. It’s Why should I pray, not we. Another question we could ask here—perhaps more appropriate, depending on your own heart—is Why do I pray?

Your challenge today, then, is to choose the version of the question you’d like to explore: Why should I pray? or Why do I pray? Pray asking for guidance, for understanding, and for God to reveal your own heart to you, and then go on a search. Look for reasons from the Bible God tells us to pray. These may tell you why you should pray (a good question to ask if you don’t pray on a regular basis), or they may tell you what needs to change or continue in your personal prayer life (if this is already a practice of yours). I found two good resources to help you begin your search if you’re not sure where to begin: “Prayer has its Reasons” by Focus on the Family, and a blog that addresses most of the questions we’ve been asking for the past several days, “Why, When, and How Should We Pray” posted by FaithGateway.

Today’s Participation. To participate and become a part of an online community of believers encouraging each other to continue in and grow in our faith in Jesus—even if it’s only a community of you and me (there has been low participation so far, but that’s okay)—post a reason you do (or do not) pray in the comments below. If you did the challenge, post something about what you learned, too—and whether you think anything should change in your prayer life as a result. Alternatively (my favorite method), you could create an Instagram post using the hashtag #writinglifeaugustchallenge and visualize a reason to pray (I have to be your Instagram friend—@rhondalorraineblog—or your account has to be public for me to see it, though). I participate, so search for my answers using my handle or hashtag on Instagram, too!

Today’s Inspriation. Today’s inspiration continues to come to us from Colossians 4:2:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (NIV)

Happy challenging!

Challenge Day 9

Bird house in a field of tall grass. Photo text: Challenge Day 9, where to pray. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Review. For the month of August, I’m posting a daily devotional challenge. I wanted to encourage people to spend time every day with God in prayer and in the Bible, and thought this would be a fun way to do it. You can find all of the challenge posts under the August Challenge menu (👈🏻 or 👆🏻, depending on the device you’re using to read the blog).

Inspiration. The inspiration for today’s challenge is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (I couldn’t resist that one):

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2, NIV

But let’s take a step back a minute. When I use the subheading “inspiration,” what do I mean? What does it mean to be inspired? To inspire?

Let’s look at how Merriam-Webster defines the word:

1 a
: to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration

To be inspired, then, means to be divinely (that means it was done by a deity, and I believe in only one deity, the God of the Bible) influenced or guided. The Bible tells us that in writing the books that make up the Bible, the authors were inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So when I use the word “inspiration,” I’m looking to God and the word he’s given us—the Bible—to guide our thoughts for the day.

Challenge. Today’s challenge is to consider the fourth of the “five W questions,” Where should I pray?

The question of where may seem unimportant to you. After all, we can pray anywhere—there is nowhere we can go where God is not (Psalm 139:7-8), so why should it matter? And in one sense, it doesn’t matter—at least, the physical location doesn’t. I think what does matter, especially if we are trying to establish a regular, personal prayer practice, are the characteristics of the “where.”

When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he described the type of place one should go for this type of prayer:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father… (Matthew 6:6, NIV)

But what was he getting at? That is your challenge today—to explore one or more examples in the Bible of people engaged in personal prayer (meaning not corporate, or group prayer, which is different) and notice how those places are described. (Some people I can think of who prayed alone are Jonah, Elijah, David, and Jesus.) What words did the author use to describe the place? From the description(s) that you read, and from what Jesus told us, how would you describe a place that would be ideal for daily prayer in your own life—and can you think of such a place? Read about it, think about it, and most importantly, pray about it.

Participate. In the comments below, list three adjectives that describe an ideal place to pray. If you have decided to use or create a space like this for yourself, we’d love to know where it is! Maybe you could give someone else an idea for his or her own space. If you use Instagram, post a picture of it with your adjectives in the caption. Use #writinglifeaugustchallenge (and a public account) if you’d like others doing the challenge to see it.

Challenge Day 8

Review. Welcome to the Writing Life Challenge! What is this challenge? It’s a daily challenge for the month of August designed to help you grow in your faith in Jesus by establishing (or adding to your already-existing!) daily habits of Bible reading and prayer. The participation part is designed to both allow us to encourage each other and to hold each other accountable. Jump in any time (even if it’s not August)!

Mantle with wooden sign (illegible) and partial ceramic dove figure. Photo text: Challenge Day 8: When to pray. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

Today’s Inspiration. In Colossians 4:2, Paul tells us to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (NIV). We’ve been using this verse as our inspiration up to this point, and today’s focus is on the third of the “five W questions”: When should we pray?

Today’s Challenge. When should we pray? This question is a bit different from the others we’ve asked so far. Some may interpret this question as, Upon what occasions should I pray? But that question is really one of context, and more closely related to yesterday’s question: What should I pray for? Instead, then, we will ask the question in terms of time: When—what time of day or night—should I pray?

The simplest (and perhaps hardest to put into practice) answer to this question is all the time (1 Thess. 5:17). But the Bible tells us of religious practices that dedicated regular times of day to prayer (Daniel 6:10; Acts 3:1), and of what seem to be individuals’ more personal, informal prayer practices (Psalm 5:3; Mark 1:35).

Your task today is to read through the verses listed above. If you do not have a daily prayer habit or a specific time set aside to pray each day, then you should prayerfully consider if, and when, you should and could set aside a specific time each day to pray. If you do have a specific prayer habit, spend your time in prayer!

Today’s Participation. Do you have a specific time of day set aside to pray, or did you decide to set time aside as a result of this challenge? Do you struggle with this (as I often do)? Tell us so we can encourage you! Respond in the comments below, respond to the challenge Instagram post on @rhondalorraineblog, or create your own Instagram post and use the hashtag #writinglifeaugustchallenge.