- - Sunday, November 29, 2015

Over the years, people have asked me about my daily prayer practices. Prayer is so much a part of who I am that it’s quite a challenge for me to answer that question. Nonetheless, I will try.

I get a head start on my day by praying before I get out of bed in the morning. Soon after I get up, I go into our sunroom, where I pray at length for readers of all my books. Then I read the day’s entry in Jesus Calling and pray specifically for all those who are reading it, including readers of the children’s version. After that, I continue praying while I walk on the treadmill in our sunroom. All of this happens before I have breakfast. My prayers continue throughout the day in various ways — interwoven with my daily routines.

I also like to pray with other people — especially my husband and close friends. I have a dear friend who helps teach a weekly Bible study to incarcerated women. Before she makes the long drive to the prison, she comes over to pray with me in the sunroom. This provides encouragement for both of us. Our prayers give her confidence as she prepares to go to the prison, and she assures me that I am an integral part of the Bible study through my prayers.

It is important for all of us to take time to quiet our minds and communicate with God. The more hectic our lives, the more we need this time to connect with Him. Sometimes it helps to have a special place in your home where you can be still and pray without interruptions. As I’ve mentioned, the sunroom in our home is that special place for me.

One reason people neglect prayer is that it may not lead to the desired outcome quickly (if ever). But prayer can bring about results that are unexpected and even more wonderful than getting the answer we had hoped for. Prayer changes us as we communicate with God — gradually transforming us into the ones He designed us to be. Also, as we pray, we are reminded that He is in control.

A sense of nearness to God is perhaps the most delightful blessing you can receive through praying persistently. Another benefit is relief from stress and anxiety. It is wise to ask Him to help you see things — including your problems — from His perspective. It’s so comforting to know that God is with you in the midst of your difficulties.

Jesus Calling grew out of my personal prayer life, my many years of writing in prayer journals. As soon as this devotional book was published, I started praying daily for readers, and I have never stopped. Over the years, my prayers for the readers of all my books have increased — in length and in scope. These prayers have grown to the extent that I now consider them one of the main responsibilities (and pleasures) that God has for me each day. I plan to continue this practice as long as I am alive and able.

A vital part of prayer is giving thanks to God. As I have spent time in His presence — praying, reading Scripture and writing — the importance of thankfulness has been impressed upon me more and more. This theme is reflected in my devotional books. Since this is the Thanksgiving season, I’d like to share an excerpt from Jesus Calling on this theme. The excerpt below is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you, the reader:

“Walk with Me along the high road of thanksgiving. To protect your thankfulness, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely. A constant focus on adversity defeats many people. They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts. Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds. How precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times. They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them.”

As you ponder the place of prayer in your life, I encourage you to give thanks to God daily and intentionally. Something that has helped me for many years is keeping a Thanks Book — a notebook where I jot down each day a few things that I’m grateful for. As you give thanks to God more and more, be on the lookout for an increase in your joy.

Sarah Young’s devotional writings are personal reflections from her daily quiet time of Bible reading, praying and writing in prayer journals. With sales of more than 15 million books worldwide, “Jesus Calling” has appeared on all major best-seller lists. Sarah’s writings include “Jesus Calling,” “Jesus Today,” “Jesus Lives,” “Dear Jesus,” “Jesus Calling for Little Ones,” “Jesus Calling Bible Storybook,” “Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids,” and “Peace in His Presence” — each encouraging readers in their journeys toward intimacy with Christ. Sarah and her husband were missionaries in Japan and Australia for many years. They currently live in the United States.

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