Interesting things happen when I merge business concepts with spiritual life. For instance, in my business leadership days, we talked a lot about leading and lagging indicators, as we read trends to understand business realities and predict possible outcomes.
Consider this: One very strong leading indicator in spiritual life might just be your prayers.
What are you praying about right now? If you’re like me, often your prayers fall into several categories of relatively repetitive phrases. You might pray similar things for a period of time, or even pray a scripture or keyword for the year. If you journal, flipping back through the pages will reveal a great deal about your relationship with God – both where you’ve been and how the relationship is “trending” now.
I discovered this recently when I tried praying in color. With a blank journal and 24 vibrantly hued Sharpies in hand, I drew out my prayers. For me, this method is an outstanding way to stay focused in a specific area, fully exploring what I want to say to God about it, and also taking time to hear what God desires to say to me.
And so, I artfully prayed in color. Above a UPS style truck, which I drew bringing opportunities, I sketched out a delicate angel, keeping watch alongside several words that summarize my prayers.
That’s when I realized that prayers are a leading indicator. Because my words have changed. Really changed.
I’m not sure exactly when it all shifted for me, but the new words summarize things God has been teaching me, and also my hopes and dreams for this season.* I have stopped praying for vision, and started praying for clarity. * I have stopped praying for direction, and started praying for discernment. * I have stopped praying for “something good”, and started praying for God’s best.
I should mention that my circumstances haven’t changed – just my focus. You might read my little list and think, Aah…semantics. For me, this is much more than word choice. These words reflect attitudes of the heart.
When I trend my prayers, I see that God is helping me to move toward things I really need. Rather than planning out the year, I’m focused on obedience in this moment, and that is a trend I’m learning to appreciate. It’s a necessary realignment for me.
What about you? What do the leading indicators tell you about your spiritual life right now?