More time to pray? It’s not that easy. But here’s some encouragement and practical help.

Person praying

In these uncertain times, prayer seems more important than ever. And I guess it’s not unreasonable to expect that those of us who are no longer working full time with perhaps the added daily responsibilities for children to use our time and head and heart space to pray more.

To be honest, most of us feel we’d like to do better with our praying. After all, our life experiences have built much wisdom and faith into our hearts and minds that we can invest. And we know James in his letter says, ‘The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.’ James 5.16.

But let’s be realistic. It’s not that easy. What’s needed is some encouragement and some practical help. So let me offer you some of both.

First, the encouragement. To put it simply, prayer works.

At moments of impending peril during the Second World War, days of prayer were held – for the evacuation of Dunkirk for instance. The King and Parliament called the nation to pray and a series of miracles meant that 338,000 Allied soldiers trapped in Normandy – my father among them – were rescued in heroic circumstances.

The God to whom we bring this needy world does things like this when we pray. The circumstances now in 2019 may be different but we have the same prayer-answering God.

Now for the practical help.

  1. Decide when and how. God is always with us, so prayer is a moveable feast. But as with enjoying food and drink, there are different times and ways to do it. Does this new season in your life offer the opportunity to do things differently? Is there an alternative time or place to meet God by yourself? Are there new people who you could join to pray with? Or is what’s needed a fresh commitment to stick with what you’ve always done?
  2. Remember ‘ACTS’ I’m sure you know the well-worn acronym of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication which serves as a helpful guide to the order of our prayers. Perhaps it’s time to dust it off and give it another go. If so, do work at getting a balance. Too much introspective repentance at the expense of remembering others’ needs isn’t good. How will you include worship in these prayer times?
  3. Find your focus. The reality is that we can’t pray for everything. So try to sense where your own focus should be. Family? Friends? Church life? Community? Nation? International? You’ll not want to go overboard by praying exclusively for just one area. But don’t take the whole world on your shoulders either. There are apps to help you organise your prayers in this way. Check out Prayer Mate or the new Inner Room from 24/7 Prayer.
  4. Get clued up. There are many helpful resources to give you up to date information for your prayers. My favourite – because I write it! – is CARE’s quarterly Prayer Diary with its wide range of topics. To receive it by post or online follow this link – CARE Prayer.
    With Brexit on the horizon as I write, you’ll find helpful information and opportunities to pray from the following –
    National Call 2 Prayer. This is encouraging informed prayer, especially on March 28th, Brexit Eve.
    Christians in Parliament is a cross-party organisation with a vision for bringing faith into the heart of politics.
    The Evangelical Alliance which has brought together some helpful prayer resources.
    24-7 Prayer is at the forefront of intercession around the world and this link is to their section on the UK.
    World Prayer Centre is a national hub for prayer throughout the UK.
  5. Don’t be downhearted. What a relief that prayer isn’t just down to fallible human effort. The Holy Spirit is the composer and conductor of this extraordinary global orchestra we’re in.

The needs are great. Our God is greater. What an opportunity we have to bring a broken and needy world to the only One who can truly make a difference.

What approach to prayer have you found helpful and what prayer resource would you recommend. Please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


    1. Hi Elizabeth
      Thanks for adding a comment. Do you receive the (free!)CARE Prayer Diary? That deals in depth with a wide range of topics – a different subject every week. Please click on for more information about getting hold of it. Also we have just produced some resources about praying for the country at this time, with ideas for groups too. Celia Bowring

  1. I would recommend a book by Wesley Duewel called ‘Touch the World Through Prayer’ published by Zondervan – it shows what can be achieved by us who are so daunted by our praying and perhaps underestimate what God can do as if it depends on us.

  2. I have found Isaiah 50:4 a real help and challenge. “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” This is part of one of the Servant Songs, and I imagine the true Servant taking time out every day to listen to his Father, open to be guided in his amazing life of service for us. After a very busy Sabbath He got up very early in the morning while it was still dark and went off to a solitary place where he prayed. (Mark 1:35). I have found him slowly weening me of some of my self-centredness as morning by morning I try to listen in (having removed my hearing aids!). Listening is difficult, just being quiet, and intercession I still find quite difficult, but perhaps I try to be too wide in my concerns. David

    1. Thanks for taking time to leave a message David. Love that verse from Isaiah 50. May we all continue to hear (without hearing aids!) as He teaches us day by day to find the balance between all the different aspects of prayer.

  3. Thank you Celia for your helpful suggestions for prayer and the habit of praying. For myself, I use the resources provided in Daily Prayer by the Church of England although one does not have to use every section of it. Some are necessary to give the structure a logical integrity but much is not.
    In the same vein, the Church of England website offers ‘Prayer during the Day’ which is even more flexible and can be used as a full service for a group or by an individual alone, for which it is well suited. The structure is simple and memorable beginning with the Preparation then moving into Praise, then into the Word which includes a Psalm as well as any Bible reading pattern you follow. After that is a Response which can be used to meditate on the passage or read any accompanying notes you may have. Following that is Intercession which can be done in whatever way you are comfortable with or how the Holy Spirit directs after which is a Conclusion. All these sections are flexible but flow in a logical pattern.
    If you are not of Church of England don’t be put off or wary as the form of prayer is not specifically Anglican but it is Christian and thereby can serve all Christians in their aim to have a disciplined set-aside time with God.

    1. Thanks for your insights Graham. I think many of us appreciate the beauty and truth found in these liturgical prayers ever more as we grow a little older – I certainly do. The prayers and passages in Daily Prayer will I’m sure help many people. That daily rhythm is so valuable.

  4. The prayer JESUS Taught His disciplies: YOUR Honour; YOUR Name; YOUR Kingdom; YOUR Will; YOUR Provision; YOUR Forgiveness; YOUR Protection. OH JESUS, teach us how to pay! Raise up the Army, LORD! Do it again!!

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife