We see throughout Scripture the importance of prayer. It is called for and modeled by Old Testament saints and prophets alike. Likewise, Jesus not only calls us to prayer, He also teaches us to pray and models for us a life of prayer. The early church was filled with praying believers.
So, with that said, let’s take a moment to look at some simple steps that can help strengthen our prayer lives.
Establish a time and place so you can get alone and eliminate distractions. It’s best if we can carve out some time each day to spend alone with God free from distractions. So, find the time that works best for you. People are seen praying throughout the Bible at different times and in different postures. God is more concerned that we spend time in prayer than what time we pray and He’s more concerned with the posture of our hearts than our bodies. Whatever hour might work best in your life, set it aside and make it a priority. Turn off the television and put your phone away. Try to eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can spend some time connecting with our Heavenly Father.
Remember that prayer is communication. It’s a conversation with God. For many of us, we try to find a balance between conversation and reverence/respect. Because we do, we tend to drift into “prayerspeak.” Through the years I’ve heard many people talk one way and then pray another. It’s like they’re speaking an entirely different language. Try to avoid this.
As you pray, spend some time in silence. Allow God to stir in the stillness of the moment. It’s often in our quiet moments of reflection that God brings things to our mind to challenge and comfort us.
Speak openly and honestly with God. Don’t try to impress Him. He knows our feelings and emotions. He knows if we’re afraid or anxious. He knows if we’re angry. Acknowledge to Him and ask Him to help you move through those feelings. When we read the Psalms, we see the struggles of the psalmists. We also see the struggles of the prophets as they confessed they didn’t understand what was going on around them. Let’s strive to avoid the dangers of pretentious praying (Matthew 6:5-8). As we do this, it is helpful to remember that the Spirit prays with us and for us (Romans 8:26).
If we’re honest, we know that sometimes our prayer life becomes stale. We run out of things to say or we just repeat the same things over and over. Here are a few suggestions that can help us move beyond this.
- Use the ACTS acronym – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication
- Follow the pattern Jesus puts forth in The Model Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)
- Pray Scripture, particularly Psalms – Donald Whitney has written a marvelous book on this entitled Praying the Bible (as a matter fact, anything by Donald Whitney is worth reading).
- Perhaps it might help you to write our your prayers or to record them in a journal. You can do this in a hard copy or digitally. Day One, Evernote, OneNote, or any word processor (Word, Pages, Google Docs) can be a great tool for this.
- Learn to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Take advantage of the moments here and there and pray whenever something…or someone comes to mind.
- Pray through your calendar.
- Prayer walking. Walk through your neighborhood praying as you go. This is a great way to pray for the people around you. Pray 4 Every Home is a great resource you can use in this endeavor.
Whatever method or plan, time or posture, tool or resource, the important thing is to pray. So, spend some time today connecting with God through prayer.