How many of you made resolutions? Anyone resolve this year to pray more intentionally? Or, to acknowledge God more? Or to meditate more? (I don't exercise, so all my resolutions are internally-based, not externally-based. Haha!)

In the whirlwind of daily life, the quiet refuge of prayer becomes an oasis, or is it more of a mirage for you? Something that seems far off, too good to be true? I have learned to pray in the moments in-between: putting dishes away, the walk from one room to another, (seriously) sitting in the bathroom – the water closet was my prayer closet during my first miscarriage.

I talk a lot about how I feel like God has stretched these moments out. Supernatural seconds turn into minutes of adoration. So, this year, if you haven't thought about your prayer life yet, I want to talk about how we can be more intentional with our times of prayer.

Rooted in the unshakable truths found in God's Word, let's explore practical prayer strategies crafted to deepen your spiritual connection and discover empowerment through prayer.

1. Cultivate a Sacred Sanctuary
Begin by creating a designated sacred space for prayer—an altar of stillness where you can commune with God. Recall Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God."

I admittedly do not have a carefully cultivated space for prayer. (I am rehearing myself talk about God's preparation of the land.) So, I am not trying to stress you out with a to-do list that makes you feel like you have to DO something extra to pray. This strategy is simply the act of preparing a sacred space for you to connect with God, without the distraction of a phone, TV as background noise, and messes to clean up.

2. Daily Soaking in God's Word
Dive into Scripture daily, seeking not just to read but to immerse yourself in its life-transforming truths. Let Psalm 119:105 resonate within you: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

It is so easy for us in the 21st century to have access to God's Word. I have the freedom to own multiple copies and multiple translations of the Bible. I have an app, multiple devotional email subscriptions, there is an abundance of access to God's Word.

What I love about what we are doing here is we are taking a slow approach to God's Word. It's not just about consuming the information, but meditating on it, ruminating on it, and letting it affect your heart and soul and your actions throughout the week.

3. Journaling as a Reflection Tool
Keep a prayer journal, recording your conversations with God, reflections on scripture, and expressions of gratitude. As you delve into passages like Philippians 4:6-7, invite God into your worries and prayers, acknowledging His peace that surpasses all understanding.

I am pretty sure I've mentioned before that I have a graveyard of unfinished notebooks. Journaling has been a notion of mine for years and I want to record of events, thoughts, prayers, etc. I just... can't seem to build a habit. BUT, you know what HAS stuck!? My journaling Bible. As I study, I write in the margins and DATE my prayers and put dates on promises I hear from God as I study.

Remember, I am not trying to create another to-do list for you. I an simply presenting some ideas on how you can strengthen your prayer life this year. Journaling can be therapeutic. I kind of imagine it like using my pressure cooker. I can't open the lid, until the pressure releases. I can't rest and ruminate on God's Word, until the pressure releases. Journaling... or word vomiting on paper, has sometimes just been clearing the space for me to prepare myself to receive God's Word.

4. Gratitude and Intercession
Commence prayers with gratitude, echoing the Apostle Paul's encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances." Transition into intercession, lifting up others as urged in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

This one has changed my prayer life. My prayers are more about God and and other than they are about my "wants" and "needs" now. I use my time in prayer to acknowledge God in my circumstances – good, bad, or ugly. I use my time in prayer to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit on people's lives.

Have any of you tried to teach young kids what "gratitude" is?

It's a difficult feat. BUT, what it's taught me is a way to simplify what it means to be thankful for something... acknowledging God in all things, in all circumstances, and knowing that He is the Creator of those things and circumstances, and He's a good Good, an intentional God, and a purposeful God. (Do you see why understanding the character of God through Genesis is important for the way we see Him work in our lives today?!)

5. Embrace Lectio Divina
Oh!! I know we've thrown out some Hebrew words here, but here is a Latin phrase! Practice "Lectio Divina" – a contemplative approach to Scripture. Follow the steps of contemplation: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.

Joshua 1:8 says, "Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it."

Lectio Divina is the mission behind this study through the Tanakh. I wanted to slow down and contemplate God's Word for His people. As we go through the Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim, I hope that you are taking the intentional steps to read, meditate, pray, and contemplate on how they affect what you believe about God, about the Bible, and about how Torah leads us to the coming of the Messiah and to the future of His return.

In conclusion, prayer is not a mere recitation of words but a transformative dialogue with the Divine. These prayer strategies, anchored in the unshakeable bedrock of Scripture, provide a roadmap to deepened connection, strength, and divine guidance. As you engage with these practices, may your heart resonate with the Psalmist's plea in Psalm 17:6, "I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer." Embrace these strategies, drawing from the timeless truths of God's Word, and witness prayer become an empowering beacon illuminating your spiritual journey.