Cultivating a Prayerful Life: Kelly Tarr
“Prayer should be the breath of our breathing, the thought of our thinking, the soul of our feeling, and the life of our living, the sound of our hearing, the growth of our growing. Prayer in its magnitude is length without end, width without bounds, height without top, and depth without bottom. Illimitable in its breath, exhaustless in height, fathomless in depths, and infinite in extension.”
Homer W. Hodge
I don’t know about you, but Mr. Hodge’s words stir in my heart to desire to pray. And yet, it’s easy to go through a day spending very little time in conversation with the Lord. But this shouldn’t be so! We, who have the ear of the King of the Universe, have a position of great power and privilege.
I wonder if you need a refresh in your prayer life? If so, read on sister, because I want to encourage and equip you to grow in both your relationship with the Lord and in a steadfast prayer life.
About a decade ago, several life events occurred that felt like wave after wave crashing over me. One would knock me down, and as I began to stand again another came to send me tumbling. A sudden end to a friendship, a move across states (transitioning out of Army life), a miscarriage, a difficult church situation, another miscarriage. Life was hard. I suppose in many ways it was the beginning of “life happening” as an adult. It was what I now understand to be “normal” life, which is indeed a mixed bag of joy and sorrow.
I was disoriented and my soul needed anchoring.
One of the unexpected joys in that particular season of life was the gift of a new friend. It was an unanticipated friendship, and so was the invaluable gift she gave me.
In the midst of those dark months of life, I struggled with grief and feelings of despondency. A lot. Daily, hourly. I felt like I was in a pit that I couldn’t climb out of. And in my dark hours the Lord sent my friend who daily encouraged me, “Lift your eyes, adore!” It brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it because now, a decade later, I can tell you that the daily, hourly, moment by moment lifting of my eyes to practice adoration has transformed my life.
Push Through the Awkward
It was awkward at first. And honestly, it took time for it to become my reflex. There were many times when instead of first crying out to the Lord, I would text my husband or my friend. They nudged me to turn to the Lord, until eventually, He was the first one I talked to.
I would take a verse, such as Psalm 146:5, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God…” and I would say, “Lord, Your Word says that I am blessed because you are my help. You are my help! I need your help! It says blessed are those whose hope is in You. I want to hope in you, Lord. I don’t feel hope—help me to hope in you! You are my hope!”
Whether I felt like opening the Word or not, or felt like it was accomplishing anything, I did it. What I chose to believe in those moments was that the Lord was attentive to me (Psalm 130:2) and He was at work (Eph. 3:20). I believed that though I may not see or feel the fruit immediately, eventually, I would. With the help of the Holy Spirit, He helped me believe His Word, even though everything in my experience felt contrary to it (Philippians 3:12-16).
I believed He was worthy of my adoration no matter what emotional or physical state I was in, and that He blessed those who fear Him (Psalm 112:1).
Adoration became a staple in my prayer life, in a way it never had before. Left to my natural tendencies, a melancholy and despondent heart easily took over. Truly, the Lord has slowly re-wallpapered the walls of my heart as I have adored Him by speaking His Word to my heart and back to Him.
Establish a Simple System
As much as I enjoy adoration, one does need to move on into other seasons of prayer with the Lord. A few years ago, in an effort to cultivate a more faithful prayer life, I developed a daily bullet list. It was a basic template that I could easily replicate for each day of the week. I printed it out, folded it in three, and to this day, I keep it in my Bible.
I follows the ACTS model of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication.
If the idea of having a system for prayer seems off-putting, I want to suggest thinking of it as a stewardship issue. How can you best steward your time in prayer? How can you best steward what you know about the people in your life and what they’re walking through?
We don’t hesitate to menu plan or even create a schedule for classes we’re taking, so why would we hesitate to add a little structure to our time with our Father?
Remember, we have a privileged position as adopted daughters of God. We have the opportunity to enter the throne of grace with confidence, carrying our needs and desires, and the needs and desires of our brothers and sisters to our Father and theirs (Heb. 4:16)! We also have a profound opportunity to intercede for those who don’t know the Lord.
So, here are a few helpful resources I’ve written or gathered to get you started:
5 Resources to Enrich Your Prayer Life – this includes my favorite prayer tools!
How to Cultivate a Faithful Prayer Life – this includes a video I made explaining my simple daily prayer system
A Simple Method to Strengthen Your Prayer Life – this is a bit of a lengthy article, but a helpful way to segregate an hour’s worth of time in prayer
I’d love to hear how you order your prayer life. I pray your delight in the Lord will increasingly grow as you ardently seek the inexhaustible ear of God.
Kelly has been married to Blane for 15 years, with five children that keep her very busy. She's a transplanted Yankee married to a southern man, living the country life. Her first love is Jesus Christ, and she desires to joyfully walk with every crack and crevice of her heart aligned with His. She's an avid reader, runner, and learner. Hospitality is one of her favorite hobbies, along with writing encouraging notes to others.