There are times in our lives when we will experience a number of crises at the same time, and how we handle them can change us dramatically. One tool I use to facilitate positive change is what I call the “Book End Prayer,” beginning and ending my day with God.

The Book End Prayer

How have you changed over this past year? Lockdowns, school closures, church building closures, job changes and elections are just a few events that might have contributed to raised-stress levels.

So, again, I ask the question, how have you changed over this past year? Are you happy with the changes or would you like to erase 2020 from your life?

There are times in our lives when we will experience a number of crises at the same time, and how we handle them can change us dramatically. One tool I use to facilitate positive change is what I call the “Book End Prayer,” beginning and ending my day with God. It’s more than a random prayer. It’s planning and reviewing the day, and it has changed my life.

In the morning I will talk through my plans with God. I share the appointments, the goals, my hopes, and even my fears. This morning planning session with God puts my plans into a spiritual perspective. It even alters my plans for the day. I have kept myself from frivolous, impulsive purchases by talking to God about my planned purchases. I value this time with God and when I skip it, I can tell a difference in my day. Suddenly, events seem to annoy me more, I am less patient, and life seems more about me. 

To end my day, I review the events with God. This can be painful because I do not hold anything back. My spiritual life changed when I started asking forgiveness for specific sins. Normally I would just pray the generic “forgive me for my sins” prayer. However, when I started reviewing my day with God, I had to talk with Him about specific sins. This time helps put sin into perspective, it is a time when I can surrender my will and desires to Him again. This reflection with God also helps my faith grow. I am able to see how God worked in my life, and I celebrate with God the victories where I made the right choices. There will be times when I start this review session feeling terrible about my day but, once I start talking to God about all the good things, a bad day can change to a great day.

Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians by exhorting the hearer on how to live a Christian life; among this list is the charge to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Angel of the Lord tells Joshua to meditate on the book of the law day and night (Joshua 1:8). David in Psalms 1 describes a person who is blessed as someone who delights in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night (Psalms 1:8). The Book End Prayer is just part of the way I have applied these verses to my life.

I look back on 2020 and am glad for what God has done. I graduated, got to spend more quality time with my family, began a ministry partnership with a colleague that has changed my life, and working for God. This past year has been a good year in spite of all the external stress factors. How about yours? I invite you to try the Book End Prayer to see if it will change your life like it changed mine.

 

Joshua Voigt pastors the North Aurora Church in suburban Chicago.