Prayer is one of the fundamental practices of the Christian life. We all know we should pray. We want to pray. We tell our kids to pray. We know prayer will comfort us. We know God deserves to hear from his children. And yet, prayer is hard! So, here are seven practical tips to stir your prayer life:
1. Remember: prayer is a relationship.
Like any relationship, you need regular ongoing communication and longer concentrated times of undivided attention. Look to build a few concentrated times of prayer (maybe morning and night) into your day, as well as ongoing prayer throughout the day. One feeds into the other.
2. Minimize distractions.
When you are seeking to have a longer time of concentrated prayer, set yourself up for success. Set aside a time and place that will minimize interruptions and help you stay focused. Maybe the basement, a closet, your car, or even the bathroom. Try taking a walk. Wherever you are, make sure your phone is not with you!
3. Ask the Spirit to guide you.
There is no effective prayer to God without the Holy Spirit’s work. He is our conduit, lifting our prayers to God. Invite him to direct your prayers. Submit to his presence. Wait on him. Listen to him.
4. Use music to settle your heart.
Turning your heart from earth to heaven can be a hard transition. Listening to or singing a worship song can quiet your heart and set your mind on the Lord.
5. Use the Word as a launch pad.
Read over a short passage or verse that centers you on what is true and stirs your heart. Read it slowly. Meditate on the Word. Pray through the concepts. Pray God’s words back to him.
Pray God’s Word back to him.
6. Use structured prayers to direct you.
Use some of the prayers of the Bible to guide your prayers. The words Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6 as a template can be a good directing point. Put these biblical prayers into your own words. Also, try using the pattern of UP, DOWN, IN, OUT. Pray Up (praise & thanksgiving), Pray Down (confession & repentance), Pray In (petition for your needs), Pray Out (intercession for the needs of others). For more detail on these four patterns, see Part 1!
7. Get your body involved.
Remember you are both a physical and spiritual being. Use your body to your advantage. Try different positions – stand, kneel, lay on your face, walk around. Let your body reflect the state of your heart. Pray out loud so you can hear yourself. Write or type out your prayers.
Your Father wants to hear from you. He deserves your attention, and he is eager to pour his grace into your life!