Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Do you remember growing up and learning how to pray? I remember learning to pray before meals, ask for forgiveness, thank God for the day, et cetera. I learned to recite prayers that were taught, and rarely though for myself. I remember praying for my animals (and even baptizing my cat) as a child because I always loved them dearly, but that's about it. Other than adding my animals to my prayer list, my prayers were the same for years.
They always started with thanking God for the day, asking him to help those in need, confessing sins, "guide, guard, and direct us" and saying amen. (Side note - everyone I know says the part in quotation marks, but where did it start?) I hated praying out loud because my prayers always sounded the same. They became routine.
It wasn't until college when I was truly introduced to prayer groups and the idea that we can very literally bring every request to God in prayer. I'm sure that this was taught growing up, it's even in lyrics to one of my favorite hymns:
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Although I'm sure I was taught the ability to take each request to God, it took listening to my sweet sisters' prayers to make it a reality. Nothing is too big or small for God. He cares about your every concern. Don't be afraid to pray about the "small stuff." He knows your every want, need, and struggle.
Talk to God like you would talk to your Father or friend. He is both. Prayers don't have to be formal. Prayers can come in the form of tears. They can be worded like a phone call to a good friend. They contain breaks before being finished. You can say "umm" because they aren't pre-written speeches. It's even okay to not know the words to say when you pray.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
So what does prayerful living look like?
Pray for your friends and family on good and bad days. Everyone needs God all of the time, not just when things are bad.
Pray about everything. If it's on your mind or in your heart, it should be in your prayers.
Pray about it as much as you talk about it. Whether it's something small or something life changing.
Pray with your friends. It's encouraging to listen to each other and lift each other up.
Pray for your country and its leaders.
Pray for strangers at the coffee shop.
Pray for your wants and needs.
Pray without ceasing.
Talk to God today and everyday. He listens to your prayers and cares for his children.