Reposted from Rooted Thinking.
I would guess that almost every Christians reading this sentence would like to have a deeper prayer life.
As we read God’s Word, we see that prayer is a crucial part of our Christian experience. It is not simply an event that we participate in, an exercise we accomplish, or a task we fulfill. Rather, prayer is humility before God. It is an expression of our faith in Him and in the veracity of His promises.
Sometimes people describe prayer as just “talking to God,” but we know that prayer is much more than that. It is worship. It is active dependence upon God our good Father. In prayer, we give praise to God and express to Him our gratitude for His grace and good gifts. We take our concerns to Him, seeking His aid as we actively trust in His sovereignty over us. We also plead for His grace to work in the lives of others whom we love (intercession). Prayer is all of these things and much more.
Prayer is also a spiritual discipline. It requires discipline to pray because our sinful hearts fight against spending time in prayer. It is hard to maintain consistency in prayer. We need God’s help to both enable us to pray and to teach us how to pray in a way that pleases Him. God commands us to “pray without ceasing.” Prayer is a spiritual skill learned over time by God’s grace. When it comes to prayer, every Christian is still learning.
It can be very difficult to set aside time for prayer. One reason is that when we have sin in our hearts before God and are still unrepentant, we know that we are not right with Him and cannot really pray until we confess that sin. But Christians who have a clear conscience before God also struggle to have consistent times of prayer. Why would this be?
Not all hindrances to prayer are spiritual in nature. Our living situation might be very small with little room for privacy, making it hard to concentrate. A mother with small children might find that almost all of her time and energy is spent on her children.
Even our personality or physical make-up might cause us to have difficulty being still and quiet for a time of prayer. I know some people who, when they stop moving, they instantly fall asleep! Others find that their mind wanders constantly when they try to pray. Some have physical limitations due to illness or medications that cause us difficulty when they pray.
I would like to provide here a list of different methods of prayer that could help some who are struggling maintain a better prayer life. Some of us just need a few practical tips to give us ideas about how to best pray in their specific situation of life. Here we go:
Pray out loud. If you find that you have a really hard time praying silently, consider praying out loud. Find a closet, backyard, or vehicle to sit in and pray. Praying out loud might just be whispering.
Pray on your knees. You might find that praying on your knees helps you have a heart of reverence before the Lord. For those of us with bad knees, this one is not an option!
Take a prayer walk. Pray while walking to work or walking your dog. Walking through the neighborhood early in the morning and pray. Some Christians walk through neighborhoods and intercede for them, praying for the lost to be saved there.
Pray with others frequently. You might be one of those people that gets sleepy as soon as things are quiet, and you are still. Make it a practice to find ways to pray out loud with other Christians whenever you can.
Write out your prayers. Writing out your prayers can be a wonderful practice when you are struggling with mental energy or concentration. This idea has really helped, personally.
Pray through Scripture. God’s Word should fuel our prayer life. Allow a passage of Scripture to form your prayers and show you how to pray that day for yourself and others. Use a Psalm or prayer recorded in Scripture. Use your daily Bible reading to show you what to pray about for yourself and others.
Pray standing with your hands outstretched or arms raised. Some feel they are being more genuine or reverent when praying in this posture.
Pray while listening to Christians hymns and songs. Use the lyrics and message of the song to be what you pray to the Lord. I have learned to do this recently and it has been a blessing to me.
Take a prayer ride on a bike, moped, or motorcycle. In Cambodia, Jennifer and I have taken moped (moto) prayer rides in the countryside.
Give thanks when going to bed. Reflect back on your day and give thanks to the Lord for His grace to you throughout the day.
Pray with your family. Pray together at every meal you are together. When you have a devotional time, pray. When needs come up, pray together right then. Make it a habit of taking time to stop and pray, even short prayers.
Use a prayer app. There are lots of apps that you pray through a list of people and requests. One that we have used is PrayerMate.
Pray through published prayers. Some well-known Christians of the past have published prayers to help guide God’s people to know how to pray. Books that have these that I am aware of are called, “The Valley of Vision,” “Piercing Heaven,” and “Pathway to Prayer.”
Prayerlessness is not an option for one of God’s children. Find a way. Be creative. Worship God by maintaining fellowship with Him in prayer.
Forrest has served as a missionary in Buddhist Cambodia in Southeast Asia since 2000. He presently serves as the Asia/Australia/Oceania regional director for Gospel Fellowship Association missions. He enjoys writing and teaching on missions and the Buddhist worldview. He and his wife, Jennifer, have 4 children.