When I was in high school I was a volunteer for a program that went into schools and youth groups in the area and talked about sex. More specifically we talked about abstinence. It was a lot more fun than it sounds. In one segment of our presentation we went through the acronym S.T.O.P., each letter standing for something that would help you make good choices. As I was thinking about today's post I knew I wanted to write about some practical application steps and I remembered this old acronym and realized how easily it applied here with only one minor adjustment! So prepare for some acronym fun!!
S - Set Goals
Having goals gives you focus and gives you a way to assess where you're at and what steps are working and not working. Decide what you want for your prayer life and write it down, tuck it in your Bible, tape it to your cupboard, put it somewhere visible. Being reminded of your goals helps you stay motivated. BUT if your goals aren't attainable you'll be easily pulled off course and you'll be discouraged when you fall short. Be honest in where you're at and keep your goals realistic.
T - Tell Someone
Accountability is key! And choosing someone to keep you accountable is important. You're not looking for someone to shame you or hound you into meeting your goals, but you also don't want to pick someone who isn't going to push you. Pick someone or (multiple someones) who you know is spiritually mature and understands the importance of the goals you've set and their end result. If you can't think of anyone to be your accountability person email me, I'll do it! And you can do it for me. firstname.lastname@example.org
O - Obtain An Emblem
I know I said this already but I'm saying it again: being reminded of your goals helps you stay motivated. The entire purpose of an emblem is to stop you in your tracks and push you into action. It can be anything. Write someone's name on a Post-It and put it in your wallet so every time you open it you pray for them. Wear a bracelet in someone's favorite color so every time you glimpse it you lift them up. Set a reminder with an alarm in your phone so that a prayer request literally interrupts you during the day. Pick something, anything, that will remind you to pray and then pray RIGHT IN THAT MOMENT.
P - Plan Your Time
There's an old proverb that goes "a goal without a plan is just a wish". Most of the the struggle to maintain an active healthy prayer life has to do with our time. But the reality is that this is like any other area in our lives, the amount of growth we see is a direct result of the amount of time we invest. Planning out our time gives us the chance to build our schedules around our priorities, and for our prayer lives to be healthy and vibrant they HAVE to be a priority.
And there you have it. S.T.O.P.
At some point were going to "unpack" each of these in a more detailed way, but for now just jump in to these steps. They are small and simple and completely attainable for anyone, no matter where you're starting from.
And listen. I don't know how many people are reading this, but if you're out there reading this post a comment or an Instagram picture or a status or a tweet or something and show off your goals or your emblem! Tag it #31daysSTOP. I'd love to see what you're doing!