"And pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." ~Ephesians 6:18, NIV
I have always loved to pray. From the time I was a small child I believed that there was a God who could hear me. I talked to Him, read Bible stories about Him, and eventually gave my life to Him. For someone living with partial deafness, it was nice to know that God was one of the few people I could always hear.
Like all introverts, I prefer deeper relationships with a few people rather than surface relationships with many. So my praying tended to also be "deep," in the sense that I focused best on God when I had extended times of uninterrupted quiet and stillness. I didn't know that there were "varieties" of prayers that could be offered, or other "kinds" of prayers as Ephesians 6 describes above.
For a while, even as a single young adult, this was not a problem. Of course, I worked during the day and had other commitments to attend to, but I cultivated a deep relationship with God in my "off" hours. Sundays especially were devoted to Him: church was followed by hours of blissful peace in my quiet apartment, doing what I now laughingly call "swooning with Jesus!"
Then I fell in love and got married.
Suddenly, I was swooning over Kevan, not Jesus, and had much less time to pursue my heavenly Bridegroom. Gradually, new demands encroached on my old prayer times: urgent things like laundry, dishes, and crying babies. Shopping trips took two hours now instead of twenty minutes, and I was falling in bed exhausted at night, wondering where the time had gone and how I would ever connect "deeply" with God again! God became just another task on my long "to-do" list, someone to whom I really couldn't give enough quality time. As any stay-at-home mom will tell you, there is just as much work at home as there is in the office; the only difference is that toddlers are tougher bosses!
The Spiritual Giant
It was around this time that I was leaving my church one Sunday morning, heading down to the nursery to pick up my children. Suddenly, my path was blocked by one of the church intercessors. Tall, slender, and with a sparkling smile, she stared down at me. I knew from what others said about her that her spiritual stature was as lofty as her physical height. One look at this "faith giant" reduced me. Next to her, I felt small, decidedly UN-sparkly, and spiritually insignificant!
I didn't realize until years later that our meeting was a divine appointment. God stood this seasoned warrior in my path that day as surely as the Angel of the Lord stood in front of Balaam's donkey to block his way. Her message changed my entire perspective on prayer.
The Power of a Kitchen Sink Prayer
When I bemoaned my lack of time to pray with this intercessor, she was nothing short of amazed. "Whatever made you think that you would have that kind of extended time with the Lord in this season of your life?" she asked. As she continued, I realized that God had brought me into a new season, a new assignment in my spiritual life, but I was still trying to use methods from the old season that didn't work anymore. I was burdening myself with expectations I couldn't meet, expectations which were no longer part of the Holy Spirit's plan for me at the time.
"What you need to realize is that your prayers at the kitchen sink are every bit as effective as your prayers in the prayer closet," she added. "You may not have those four-hour stretches to intercede any longer, but you will learn to pray shorter, more effective prayers as you go through your days with children." Thanks to her, I did.
Discerning the Times
Jeremiah 8:7 reads: "Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But My people do not know..." (Jer. 8:7, NIV) In the New Testament, Jesus laments that religious leaders cannot discern the signs of the times. (Matthew 16:3.)
Christians often have set ideas of what spirituality should look like. For me, it was the idea that a good prayer time had to be long prayer time. For someone else, it might be the idea that relentless service is the measure of maturity. Regardless, holding on to old "wineskins," or previous ways of doing things, won't work when God changes our assignment or moves us into a new season. While long prayer times and faithful service are both good things, they will hinder us if the Holy Spirit is moving us on to something new and different. Remember, the measure of our spirituality is not in the type of service we offer, but in our love for Him and for those around us.
New seasons and changes of assignments keep us humble and flexible spiritually. They allow us to stretch our faith as we lean on God for new things. They sharpen our skills as we learn to love in new ways. The trick is in recognizing and adjusting to the new things He is doing! For this reason alone, we need to pray "all kinds of prayers."
I learned to sharpen my prayers as I washed my knives. The kitchen sink reminded me to wash my family with the water of the Word, and I still pray over each one today as I wash their dishes or clothes. I pray they will taste and see the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 34:8.) I pray they will be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49) and with robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). The kitchen sink, where I spent so much time, became my sanctuary.
Several years later, when I was well into this new family routine, my husband took a night job to help make ends meet. He worked from 3-11 pm, and my young children went to bed around 7 pm. Once again, my prayer assignment changed. I now had several hours of "quiet time" each night, and the Lord specifically instructed me to set aside that time for Him in prayer. He opened up a way for me to rediscover that precious extended time in His Presence. Not long after that, He gave me a promotion, this time to a prayer team I had longed to join but could not before. I rejoiced in the extended times of prayer, but I was also aware that the short "kitchen sink prayers" had honed me as an intercessor, making me much more effective.
In every season, God can make a way for you to grow as a prayer warrior, until you, too, become a "giant" in the faith. The answers to our quick, shorter prayers in the midst of the business of loving people are every bit as powerful and exciting as the answers to the ones we have labored over. I have found that I am not alone in praying "kitchen sink prayers," although others might call them by a different name. Here are just a few: (*Download this list, complete with scripture references, as a printable infographic here.)
1. Think for a moment about the time and season you are in. Is God moving you into something new? Do things feel "out of sync" spiritually? How can you reorganize your prayer times OR the types of prayer you use to meet the demands of your new schedule or season? Be specific.
2. From the list above, which type of prayer most appeals to you? What have you tried that has been successful? If possible, choose one new way of praying and give it a try. If you have other ideas, please share your thoughts in the comments below so others can benefit!
3. Download your free list of "Kitchen Sink Prayers" (download also includes all scripture references) as a reminder to pray. Click on photo below to view or print the download.
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
Deborah Perkins is the founder of His Inscriptions and the author of How to Inherit Your Spiritual Promises: 5 Steps to Success and The 2016 Guide to Corporate Prayer. She lives in New England with her husband, three children, one cat and six chickens. She also blogs for Bible Gateway, Tyndale House Publishing, and BibleVerses.com. Join her daily here or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.