“Devote yourselves to prayer…”
Most of us do not need to be convinced that our lives should be filled with prayer. We already know that it’s essential to our relationship with God. So, my aim is not to convince you, but rather to help us (myself included) overcome the fact that we simply do not pray with the fervency and consistency that we are called to by Scripture.
First, a quick word on being disciplined in prayer: one faithful preacher put it this way – “You’re not going to accidentally grow in godliness.” Alas, but you won’t simply wake up one day and realize that you are a prayer-warrior. We must devote & discipline ourselves to in order to grow in it.
Now, that being said, here’s a few simple ideas to help you grow in the practice of prayer.
Assign Prayer Markers
Here’s what I mean by that: associate certain places or things with prayer so that whenever you see them you will be reminded to pray. I had one friend who did this with a particular tree he drove past every day on his way to work, and each time he saw it he would pray for his wife. Perhaps you can associate your alarm clock with prayer, so that each time you set it at night and turn it off in the morning you are reminded to pray.
How do you begin doing this? It’s very simple: decide what your prayer markers will be, and pray when you see them. It will take time to build the habit, and you’ll forget sometimes at first, but after a while it will become gloriously second nature. You’ll pass by that building, or turn the key in your car, or turn off your alarm clock – and BOOM! You’ll realize that you started praying without even having to consciously make the decision to do so. It’s such a simple strategy, and all it takes is the effort to assign the marker and pray.
What will be your prayer markers?
Use the Psalms
One of the greatest obstacles to prayer is boredom. It’s ok, you can admit it: sometimes you try and pray, and 3 minutes later your mind is wandering. You feel like you pray the same things over and over, and prayer becomes like a stagnant cow pond rather than a clear stream of life-giving water. How do we get the waters flowing again and get rid of stagnation? The single greatest help in my life to renew the waters of prayer and combat boredom is this: read and pray the Psalms. The book of Psalms is a book of prayers and songs. Voila! Ready-made for the people of God.
So, how do you go about using the Psalms? First, grab your Bible. Open to Psalms and start flipping through, letting your eyes take in the Word. Find a Psalm that grabs your attention or your heart and pray it back to God! It’s that easy, and I promise it’s not cheating to repeat the words of Scripture in prayer. As you get more comfortable doing this, you’ll find that phrases from the Psalms will pop up in your prayers even when they’re not right in front of you.
What Psalm will you pray today?
Read Books on Prayer
There is great encouragement in reading about the lives of prayer-warriors and about what godly people say of prayer. Here are some of the most encouraging things I’ve ever read:
- George Mueller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer
- Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers by Arthur Bennett
- Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Howard Taylor
- With Christ in the School of Prayer and The Ministry of Intercession: A Plea for More Prayer by Andrew Murray
- Praying Successfully by Charles Spurgeon
Lastly, find someone to pray with. Get involved in a prayer group through your church. Praying with other believers will inevitably strengthen your prayer life. Don’t believe me? Try it and see. If you can’t find anyone, I’ll pray with you anytime.
May God bless your efforts to pray, and bless you through your prayers.