Making prayer a habit 

By Sammy Jordan    Project Lead Hope for Every Home 
January and the New Year is a time when many of us review our habits and make resolutions perhaps to break bad habits and to start some new, good ones. Sammy Jordan encourages us to resolve in 2022 to make prayer a habit and suggests a few simple ways linked to our daily cuppa, food with friends and even a prayer post box!

Nail biting, thumb sucking, eating too much chocolate, teeth grinding and interrupting. What do these things have in common? They are all common bad habits. But habits can be good too; stopping at a red light, turning the TV off when you’ve finished watching it and saying thank you. Habits are things we do repeatedly, usually without thinking, and that’s why they are hard to break. The new year is time when we often think about our habits, we try to stop bad ones and make new, good ones as part of the new year ‘reset’ and resolutions. It’s why we see the media awash with diet and fitness advice, charity shops bulging with extra donations, and we sign up for courses, classes and activities in the name of self-improvement. I wonder if you are trying to break or start any habits in 2022? How about making prayer a habit?
In 2021 we encouraged people to turn their daily walk into a prayer walk, to help us pray for every street, every road, every lane in the UK over the next few years. Perhaps you downloaded the OIKOS app to help you Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App In 2022 we still want to pray for every street, road and lane and we realise that to achieve this we need lots of people to make prayer a habit and to #justpray. But that’s not easy. New habits are hard to fit in because life is busy, few of us have time for yet another thing, and habits are hard to start.

Psychologists tell us that habits are formed because of a cue and a reward. A cue prompts the action, which means we don’t have to think about it, opening the cupboard and eating some crisps whenever you walk into the kitchen (my husband) or plumping a squished cushion (me). The reward is what cements the habit and makes you do it again…the nice taste in the mouth or the satisfaction of lovely plump cushions!

How do we create a cue and a reward for prayer? The OIKOS app helps as having it on your phone is a prompt to pray as our phones are in our hands a lot; but I think it needs something more. I think creating a habit of prayer means tagging prayer to something that’s already a habit, something that we do everyday without thinking. I pray when I put the kettle on, climb the stairs, hear an ambulance, or get in the car. Nothing fancy or complicated, just remembering a few people before God. So, as part of Just Pray 2022 we are inviting people to Just Pray 2 and Just Pray 20.  Just Pray 2 is an invitation to pray for two minutes daily when you have a drink, whether that’s putting the kettle on, opening the fridge, turning on a tap or queuing in a coffee shop. Take two minutes to pray for your local community and for the five friends and family who you’d love to know Jesus. Hopefully this is an easy new habit, after all it’s only two minutes and we all drink daily.

Taking things a step further Just Pray 20 is an invitation to gather with others to pray for your local area for 20 minutes once a month. You might want to share some food together and then pray for 20 minutes. New habits often take a bit of support, that’s why it’s easier to get fit by joining a gym or a class rather than doing it on your own. So, we are here to help. We will be hosting ‘Food for Thought’ on 22nd of each month, to support Just Pray 20. Details will appear via our social media feed. Join with friends, join with us; but together let’s pray for our local areas and for opportunities to share Jesus with friends and neighbours.

I’ll be doing this on the estate where I live and love as part of my role as a church planter. We have a thriving neighbours Facebook page with over a thousand members. During the first two lockdowns it was a way of connecting when little else seemed possible. I love my community; people genuinely look out for one another. We had a power cut the other week (new build estate) but those with some power were warming up baby milk, doing washing and storing freezer items for those without. The Facebook group connects us but it reveals  the less attractive side of us too…moans about bin stores, litter, parking, noise…all the usual stuff. In 2022 I want to turn my neighbours news feed into a prayer feed, so I’m inviting some of my neighbours to pray with me once a month for our community. We’ll do it over a cuppa in my kitchen and on Zoom for those who need it, and we will pray into some of the issues the Facebook page throws up…and then see if people notice a difference!

One of the things I’ve noticed about my estate is how many ‘burnt out Christians’ there are. It has taken me by surprise. When we moved here 18 months ago, the only other Christians we knew were the vicar and his family, but then God began to show me people with a background of faith on every street! Often these are people who have had a faith or connection with a church but, for all sorts of reasons, no longer do. The other thing I have noticed is that they are open to the language of prayer which seems less threatening than ‘church’. So, these are the people I’m inviting to join my group. These are the people who will sit around my kitchen table with a cuppa and probably some cake (always cake) and pray. I’m hoping that as we pray for our community together and expect God to be at work, he will also be at work ministering to them, so that the group will be missional in more ways than one.
I wonder what you got for Christmas. My present was a little unusual…I got a post box. Well, it’s a prayer box and it’s going in the border at the edge of my front garden, so that as people walk by (we are right by the path to the school, community centre, park and nursery) they will notice it and maybe even use it. My prayer is that God will point it out to people and, eventually, over time, people might feel prompted to use it. My neighbours are used to things appearing in my front garden – I am the ‘chocolate tree lady’ amongst other things – so they won’t be surprised. I will also post about it on the Facebook group and see what conversations it starts. I sense God prompting me to gather people to pray for my local community but also to let the community know that it is being prayed for. Could you join me? Could you pray for your local community too? Pin your prayers on the OIKOS app Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App  so that together we can pray for every community in the country; and join me for Food for Thought on 22nd of each month. I’d love to hear your stories too.