In my young 20s, I roomed with a gal who became a dear friend. Much to my simple-makeup-wearing-self’s amazement, Elizabeth actually had a makeup routine. One step in her routine always made me chuckle as we were putting makeup on side by side in the mirror: she would take her blow dryer, direct the heat toward her eyelash curler, and heat up her eyelash curler before using it every morning. She swore that it made her eyelashes stay curled longer.
Since those days, I can’t curl my own eyelashes without thinking of her. Since I am thinking of her, I might as well pray! It became a precious time to send a quick prayer to my Jesus, asking that He would bless her that day, fill her with Himself, and send her a little something that let her know He was thinking of her.
You will get a peek into my own style and routine when I say that I don’t curl my own eyelashes every day. A few times a week, though, Elizabeth is prayed for.
And then there is the dear friend who explored numerous Starbucks in the greater Virginia / DC area, hunting for a set of the same four mugs, because I loved the design so much. Years later, the set has remained intact, and every morning that I pour my French press into one of them Sarah is prayed for.
Every day, we have these events and objects that remind us of another person. Use those reminders as triggers to pray for God’s intervention and blessing! The pushups remind me of my strong brother deployed with his family. The necklace prompts me to pray for my grandfather. The song brings to mind the dance party we had, and inspires prayer for my fellow free spirit. The movie reference brings a smile and brings prayers for fellow world changers. There are random triggers, too—the pair of blue jeans that leads to prayer for a friend struggling with identity and worth. The flavor of peaches that causes prayer for the artist. The smell of enchiladas that causes intercession for the friend fighting an autoimmune disease.
Are you blessed with strong memories? Are you confounded with haunting recollections? Hang a prayer on your experience!
There is precedence for this in the world of behavioral economics. Dubbed a behavioral association trigger or a habit cue, it is using one thing to inspire an action. For example, I wake up, fill up the kettle for a French press, grind beans, make coffee, and read my Bible. Waking up triggers making coffee, which prompts spending time with God before the house awakes. You can see why I like coffee!
In another scenario, the kids finish with their afternoon resting and reading time, and we go outside. Here, the end of resting time sparks the desired action of spending time in the great outdoors.
I’ve recently changed the place that I sit after the kids are in bed, because I realized that sitting on the green couch in the kitchen in the evening triggers the habit of eating dark chocolate (not a bad habit, indeed, but not one that I need every night!). Now I’m working on forming the new habit of hot tea in a different space.
When you have a strong memory that makes you think of someone every time you experience it, then use that to pray! Use the cues that naturally bombard you to ponder and pray, even while making sandwiches and organizing play dates and schooling and juggling work responsibilities and driving home after a long day gearing up for an even longer evening. If two things are connected in your mind, then one can trigger—or activate—the other.
This is one way that we can fulfill the exhortation found in Philippians 4:6: “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”