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If there is one thing I've learned in my Christian life, it is that prayer is powerful. Through the power of prayer I have seen lives changed, bodies healed, and hearts transformed. And that was just in my own life! What I love the most about prayer is it doesn't have to be complicated. The 5 minute prayer at the sink washing dishes can be just as effective as the hour-long prayer in your prayer closet.
The effectiveness of your prayer does not have to do with rituals, time spent, or big words. Here are 5 ways all of us can become more effective in our prayers.
If we are going to pray about something and then go worry about it, we defeat the entire purpose of prayer. Prayer and faith go hand-in-hand. We really can't pray without faith. We have faith there is a God to whom we pray, and that He might actually listen to us. But for really effective prayer that goes beyond listing off our requests to God, we need to also follow our prayer up with more faith. Once we pray about it we need to let the worry go, and trust that whatever we prayed about is safely in God's hands now.
We are more distracted than ever before. With all manner of entertainment and social connection at the tip of our fingers, we are constantly tempted to lose focus. We also have 100 things running through our mind at one time. More than I'd like to admit, I've been in prayer and my mind slipped into thoughts about what's going on tomorrow or what I should have said in an earlier conversation with a friend.
Distractions are everywhere and they are hindering our ability to hear from God. So, how can we stay focused during our prayer time? I like to remind myself that all the to-do, obligations and unfinished conversations will be right there waiting for me when my prayer time is over. I resist the pressure to make something else more important than this time with God. I also sometime leave my electronics in another room. I will use my actual physical Bible instead of my Bible app when spending time with God. This prevents me from peeking over at my phone to see who just texted me when I'm right in the middle of praying.
One major struggle that prevents me from praying is not knowing what exactly to pray about. For this reason, I've devised a prayer schedule. I have designated a certain person or area in my life to pray for on specific days. So I know on Tuesdays I pray for my son. On Thursdays I pray for my husband. I don't always follow this schedule and of course if anything else comes up I pray for that too, but if I'm ever at a loss for words it's nice to have a handy prayer schedule I can always go to for direction.
Prayer schedules also work when we have an abundance of prayer requests. It takes pressure off feeling like we need to spend 12 hours praying for everything at once by conveniently breaking up our prayer time.
As helpful as prayer schedule are, we don't need to limit ourselves to them. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We don't have to wait until bedtime or before dinner to pray. We can pray while driving to work, washing our hair, or walking the dog. One of my favorite places to pray is at my kitchen sink. When we don't place limits on when we should pray, it becomes a natural rhythm in our lifestyle and we become less likely to skip this powerful discipline.
As I stated before, effective prayer goes beyond only asking God for what we want. Real change occurs when prayer also focuses on God and what He wants. One of the best ways I've found to do this is through worship. Before I pray, I love playing worship music and getting my mind and soul ready to commune with God. Starting prayer with a focus on God and not myself helps me to accomplish one of the most important goals of prayer: realizing God is bigger than all my problems.
I hope these tips help you get the most out of your prayer time. Let me know, what tips would you add to this list for more effective prayer?
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com/4maksym
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.