By Lonni Collins Pratt and taken from Cynthia Hyle Bezek’s book Come Away With Me
“There’s no telling what circumstances will compel you to set aside a day for prayer. Maybe it’s a critical decision to be made, a problem to wrestle, or a call to abandon and surrender some destructive habit. You might have a growing sense that you need renewal or a day to celebrate God in your life.
I’ve been drawn to set aside a day of prayer for all of these reasons mentioned above. I never thought one day could make such a difference. I discover my mind is cleared, my vision keener, and my ear better tuned to the voice of God after such a day.
Of course, a day of prayer won’t always change your life, and it won’t always be earth moving. But, as those who have made this a regular practice will testify, it is always worthwhile.
Since it’s just a day, preparation will probable be minimal. Pick a date. Write it into your schedule, then tell someone close to you about it—a spouse, parent, pastor, or best friend. Plan to get together with that person after your day apart to discuss what happened.
The Shape of Your Day
Of course, you don’t want to be tied to a rigid schedule. Yet, you don’t want to spend the time daydreaming or doodling in your journal either. I’ve found it helpful to follow this model: Read a Bible passage prayerfully, slowly, with an open heart. Rather than reading it like a textbook or self-help book, listen to Scripture with a prayerful, yielded, open mind. It helps to read one word at a time, loud enough to hear yourself.
When something strikes a chord in you, stop reading and concentrate on that insight. Prayerfully meditate on it, allowing it to sink slowly and deeply into your spirit, paying attention to your inner, honest response. Don’t rush.
From meditating on the Living word, move to writing about your insight. You might do this as a written prayer to God or a journal-like record. This, too, should be done without hurry. If new insights come to you, repeat the process. When you are ready to continue reading, go back to Scripture and begin the process again. I like to take my readings from the gospels or epistles. Psalms are also fertile material for prayerful reading.
After doing this for two or three hours, take a break to worship and rest in God. You might select a hymn or chorus to sing. I like to pray two or three psalms also, then quietly rest in the presence of God, listening for Him to speak to my spirit.
When I feel ready for a break, I usually take a walk and have a small meal or snack. Then, I return to praying in the same way.
I reserve the last hour of my prayer day to record my feelings, what I understand has happened, and to make commitments or plans according to any discoveries God has given me.
Ending the Day
Don’t think you have to come away with an extraordinary experience or blazing new insights. By being present and available to God, you will cooperate with God the best you can.
In evaluating your day, it isn’t the emotional experience that matters. It isn’t new insights or resolutions. If you have become fully vulnerable to God and to the transforming power of the Word of God in Scripture, it will show in your daily living.
That’s why it’s important to make a habit of setting apart days for prayer. The result of scheduled, frequent prayer days will be an increase in everyday prayer. Prayer, I’ve learned, produces a desire for prayer.”
“A Day to Pray” by Lonni Collins Pratt in Disciples Journal January/February 1996
Copyright 2008 by Cynthia Hyle Bezek used by permission of NavPress. All Rights Reserved. www.navpress.com