Prayer is special in the life of a Christian. It is a lifeline to our Heavenly Father and a way for us to commune, listen, and receive direction in life. But one of the first questions a maturing Christian might ask is, “how do I pray more often?”
There are times when we can see the results of our prayers quickly, and in those times, we feel God on the move. In more trying times, our prayers feel like they unattached from our hearts and are scurrying around somewhere in between our mouth and God’s ears. Whether you’ve been praying since your childhood or you are just now getting adjusted to the act of prayer, I hope that these habits can prove to give you more insight and avenues to pray more consistently throughout your day.
If you’re wondering how to pray more often, here are ten simple ideas to grow your prayer life:
1. Imagine Jesus is Right Next to You and Talk to Him throughout the Day
As a child, I learned the Lord’s Prayer. It provided my first model for how to pray to our Father. I still go to this prayer from time to time, but I find my prayers have turned into conversations with God as I’ve matured.
The truth is, God wants to hear from us far more than we know. We are reminded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that praying is just as important as breathing, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
There are times in our day when we’re more likely to pray. For example, praying before a meal or before we fall asleep is a common routine. But we often forget that we can come to God at any hour of the day, in any activity we choose. Seeing prayer as more of a conversation than reciting requests and praise may give you a different perspective as well.
Sometimes I imagine Jesus sitting next to me on my couch. I talk to Him like I would any friend, sharing my highlights and lowlights of the day. Seeing prayer as a continual conversation with God can help you reimagine prayer as something you can do all day long.
2. Start (or End) Your Day with Time in the Word and in Prayer
Something that has strengthened my prayer life over the years has been setting up regular devotional time in the morning. After I eat breakfast, I dive into my devotion for the day. I stick to one or two devotional books that emphasize Scripture or follow books of the Bible. I also keep an index card with big themes to pray on throughout the year and more specific requests that might come and go.
Maybe you are too rushed in the morning? A night time devotional can be just as satisfying with the same result. It might even been sweeter to go to bed with your devotion and scriptures fresh on your mind. Either way, this habit of digging into the Word and keeping track of our prayers strengthen our continued pursuit of the Word and our Savior.
3. Count (and Write Down!) Your Blessings
Prayer can sometimes get a reputation as a “Wish List Generator.” I would be the first to raise my hand and say that I have been guilty of requesting more than thanking. Giving thanks for our blessings helps us remember just how much we have to be thankful for. Throughout the day, when something good happens, you could say and quick “Thank you, Jesus!” Doing this not only keeps me in a more positive frame of mind, but also humbles me.
One year, I began keeping a small journal of prayer requests, praises, and important events in my life. I would update this on a monthly basis, and it opened my eyes to the good God grants me, especially the small things I take for granted. When the month was hard, the good would be harder to dig up, but I began to see something as simple as having coffee with a friend as a joy-creator.
4. Pen Your Requests Each Day
It would be silly to think we wouldn’t have needs to bring to God. We are told throughout Scripture to continue to present our requests to the Lord and to trust him with the answers. Jesus encourages us to ask in Matthew 7:8, “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Being aware of my prayer requests either by writing them down as a list or keeping a running journal lets me see the breakthroughs God has provided. There is a joy that comes from seeing answered prayers on paper. As I mentioned, keeping a monthly journal of the prayer requests made it clearer for me to see how God was answering and changing my prayers throughout the year. I encourage you to use the gift of writing down your prayers.
Writing out your thoughts and conversations to God can benefit not only the present you but your future self as well. What a testament of faith to look over how God’s perfect timing always prevails.
5. Find Time to Worship Each Day
Maybe you have long commute to work, a carpool line or a few minutes as you’re making dinner where you’re able to offer worship and prayer to God. I find that there are certain worship songs that can lend my heart to a posture of prayer like none other. Listening to new worship lyrics or belting out the oldies but goodies at the top of my lungs can allow the Holy Sprit to move for me in ways that are indescribable.
Music and poetry are love languages that God knows and gives us to enjoy him through. Just take a glimpse at the Psalms and you’ll see what I mean. Reading through different psalms, listening to a favorite hymn, or even writing your own worship melody are all creative and fun ways to continue the posture of prayer throughout your day! I encourage you to find a time of day where you’re mind is free to listen, sing and pray through worship music or encouraging Scripture.
6. Learn to Pray the Moment a Prayer Request Comes Up
Unfortunately, telling someone “I’m praying for you” can be used as loosely as “How are you?” We can listen but are we really thinking about what is being said? Next time someone comes to you with a request, or you sense they could use your prayer, write it down, repeat it out loud, or better yet, ask if they’d like to pray right there. It can be hard to remember everyone’s needs but being intentional with the circle of friends and family you are blessed with is a great first step.
7. Remember to Pray in Private
Some may think writing an article about prayer could be the opposite of what I recommend here, but like any good teaching arena, I feel it’s important to hear what works for others if we want to grow. Social media is a great arena to keep up to date with family and friends, to share blessings, and ask for prayer requests.
But we must remember how Jesus instructs us in Matthew 6:6 to pray: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” When we keep our prayers as an intimate connection between us and our Creator, it can help us fight the urge to show off or perform.
For some, it could sound exhausting to never stop praying. As we saw in the verses from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we are called to rejoice, pray, and given thanks continually. Sounds pretty positive if you ask me! Understanding prayer as a continual conversation with God can change the foreboding thought into an exercise of positivity and grace. Rejoicing and giving thanks are great ways to communicate and pray throughout the day!
9. Pray in Hopeful Expectation
It can be hard to continue praying when you see no end in sight. Maybe you are asking for a miracle, a spouse, a child, someone to come back to Christ, or a relationship division to be mended. It can hurt to continue coming to God and not seeing the end results. Truth is, we won’t always see the results of our prayers on this side of Heaven. To pray in expectation gives us hope when it’s too heavy to keep going on. Small steps equal answered prayers just as much as giant leaps of faith can help you to stay at peace in the midst of the unknown.
10. Remember: God Knows before You Ask
I remember for a season of childhood I would pray the same outlined prayer every evening before I went to bed, afraid that I if I didn’t mention it, God wouldn’t know. What sounded like childish understanding could also be a habit of my distrust as an adult.
Knowing that God is omnipotent and knows my needs before I do takes the pressure off. He knows what we ask before we open our mouths, but he wants to hear from us because he loves us. I don’t always understand why some prayers are answered and others are not, but if I am going to trust him with my salvation, I have to trust my all-knowing and powerful Savior with my daily walk as well. And there is no one I’d rather talk to.
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Mandy Smith is a joyful 30-something single living in GA. She is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, playing guitar and singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.