Many people visit the World Network of Prayer office and ask, “What do you have that can help me pray better?” Others stop to share how they struggle with maintaining their daily prayer life. Some are even honest enough to share that they don’t really have a prayer life and request material on how to start one.
The truth is there is not a secret formula or program for a life dedicated to prayer. It basically comes down to discipline.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
1. Don’t just talk about prayer, pray! You can know everything there is to know about prayer but if you do not pray, you are not affecting the kingdom. Don’t wait until the mood hits or until the perfect time. The perfect time is now. Start now and make prayer a priority and an everyday part of your life.
2. Schedule a prayer time. Setting aside time is the most important place to begin in developing your prayer life. If you never take time to pray, your prayer life will never grow and develop. Make an appointment with God. Just like any other appointment, schedule time in your calendar, day timer or PDA to meet with God. If it’s not on your schedule, you are more likely to put it off. Make it a priority. If possible, try to pray at the same time daily. Many people find it easier to maintain a prayer life if they have a routine. Remember, it only takes 21 days to make a habit. Always start your day with prayer. Even if you are not a morning person and your main prayer time is in the evening or at night, never go into your day without first talking to God. Many find it easier to pray in the morning before you are burdened with the cares of the day. It will be easier to focus your mind and you will start your day on a positive note.
3. Create an environment for prayer. Choose a quiet place away from distractions to pray. Prepare your surroundings by having inspirational material, worshipful music, a Bible, a list of missionaries, a globe, a prayer journal, etc. Keep a note pad handy so you can jot down things that come to mind. You may hear a “word” from the Lord, think of a great idea, or something really pressing is weighing down your thoughts and disrupting your prayer focus. Whatever the situation, you can record it and get back to praying.
4. Prepare your heart and mind. Ask God for insight and understanding as to what to pray for. Have faith. The Bible says ask believing, and it shall be done.
5. Pace yourself. If you currently do not have an established prayer life, don’t start with a goal to pray three hours per day. Start with 15 minutes. The next week increase it to 20 or 25. The longer (days, weeks, years) you pray; the longer (minutes and hours) you will pray.
6. Use a prayer wheel. The wheel has 12 sections (praise, forgiveness, confession, petition, intercession, Bible reading, meditation, thanksgiving, pray the Word, singing, listening, and praise). To start, pray one minute in each section, the next week pray two, if you continue to do this, by the end of the month you will be praying 48 minutes per day. Considering the average Christian only prays six minutes per day, (According to a survey done by the ACA) you will be way above average.
7. Be specific. How many times have we prayed, “God bless Brother John and Sister Sue?” If someone comes up and gives them a candy bar, then they have been blessed. Why not pray, “God, I ask you to heal Sister Sue of cancer, save her children, and bless her finances. I also ask that you give Brother John a new job.”
8. Vary your prayer time activities. Pray with a list. Pray specifically rather than in vague terms. How many times has some one asked you to pray about something and you totally forgot it? If you keep a list, it will help you remember to pray for specific things that otherwise might be forgotten. Pray the scriptures. The will of God is found in His word. By praying the scriptures you can be confident that you are praying powerfully and totally in the will of God. Spend some quiet time with God meditating on some scriptures. Listen for the still small voice of God. Listen for answers to the prayers you just prayed. Try different postures: kneeling, 2 Chronicles 6:13; Acts 9:40; standing, I Kings 8:22; Mark 11:25; lying prostrate, Joshua 5:14; Matthew 26:39; bowing, Genesis 24:26; or walking. Pray with an agenda. Pray for something different for each day of the week. Monday, government leaders; Tuesday, family and friends; Wednesday, worldwide revival. Pray through the newspaper. Target different areas on different days by using a map of your city.
9. Multi-task prayer with low concentration jobs. Take advantage of the time spent doing things that don’t require a lot of concentration. Pray while driving to work. (I would ask that you keep your eyes open.) Homemakers can combine prayer with housework. Why not have different people to pray for with different tasks. Pray for the saints in your local church while vacuuming. Jog or walk in the morning? Why not spend this time praying for your neighborhood?
10. Keep a prayer journal. Record the prayers God has answered. What better way to build your faith than to look back on all the times God has answered your prayers? The list can then be used during prayer for a time of thanksgiving.
11. Pray for yourself and pray for others. The old adage says it well, ‘they need the prayer and you need the practice.’
12. Have a prayer partner. Having a prayer partner is also having accountability. It can build unity and close friendships. If one can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand to flight, which would you choose?
To enlarge your understand and increase your desire, read some good books on prayer and daily devotion that builds faith. The more you pray the more you have a desire to pray. When you see the positive effects, you’ll be hooked.
Quit talking about prayer and just pray!