A Common Desire To Pray
Prayer is an ancient practice, derived from a longing to reach out and connect with God. To be known by Him, to gain his favor and help. After all, the world is filled with danger and uncertainty. So we think to ourselves maybe a God who is good will protect us and those we love. Maybe a God who knows everything will watch over and guide us. After all, we are bound by human limitations. So maybe a God who knows no limits will act on our behalf and help us overcome.
These are impulses we all have. And so we pray.
Surveys show that even many atheists (perhaps as many as 25%) pray on a regular basis. This makes sense because we may choose to deny God’s existence but we cannot deny our human experience. And friends, the experience of being human drives us to pray.
But for the follower of Christ, we don’t want to pray only when we’re driven to it. We want to actively draw near to God. This is the essence of faith; to come to God because we believe he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. In fact, Billy Graham once said, “Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.” And yet we still struggle to make prayer a regular part of our lives. I think it comes down to this truth I’ve learned over the years:
Prayer is hard.
“Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.”Billy Graham
Defining prayer might be simple. The impulse to pray might be universal. But regularly drawing near to God in prayer, when there’s no crisis, does not come easy.
Thankfully, I’ve also learned some things that have helped me become more faithful in prayer. I think they could help you too, so here they are.
1. Start With Scripture
Devote yourself to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.1 Effective prayer starts with focus and attitude. These can be hard to come by with all the distractions we face in our daily lives.
Something that has worked for me is to start by praying Scripture. A recent favorite is Psalm 145.5-20. I simply read through it as a prayer, personalizing each verse as I go. This really draws my heart and mind above the chaos of life and helps me focus on God.
There are a lot of great passages you can use for this. Find your favorite and give it a try.
2. Make A Daily Prayer List
I used to think prayer lists were wrong. Or at least unspiritual. I thought Jesus told us not to pray the same things over and over.2 Or that we should just follow the Spirit’s leading when we pray.
Actually, Jesus gave us the very first prayer list (Matthew 6.9-13, check it out!) and he taught his disciples they should “wear God out” with their unending pleas.
Ask yourselves these question: What are the big rocks, the desires of your heart, the things you want to see God do?
I’ve got about 20 of these important things on my daily prayer list. They are big asks! If you’d like to know what some of them are, hit me up on social and I’ll share them with you.
So make your list (Abigail recently did a whole post on how to make one so check it out!), and then start “wearing God out” by praying it every day. He won’t mind. In fact, he wants you to!
3. Establish Routine
If consistency is what you want, routine is the path that will get you there. Find a time in your day that you can pray, and then make it part of your daily routine.
I have a morning routine that starts with a cold shower, then taking care of my personal hygiene, then spending time with God by reading the Scriptures and praying. I don’t turn my phone on until those things have been done. And I’ve found that if something breaks that routine, prayer is what usually gets dropped.
4. Get Moving
This one is really cool. When I’m still, my mind tends to wander. But combining my prayer time with a walk helps me stay focused. There’s something about having your body, mind and spirit all engaged when praying. It brings your entire being into action.
Pray walks also help me regulate how long I pray and builds my attention stamina. I’ve got a one mile route that guarantees I will spend 20 minutes praying with the Lord.
Bonus tip: Leave your phone behind. I’ve found myself getting distracted by notifications. Better to not even have it when you’re on a prayer walk.
I hope these 4 tips help you as much as they have me. I’d love to hear from you if you decide to try these out in your own prayer life.
I also want to learn from you. Do you have any tips that could help me or our community pray more faithfully? Head over to our Facebook page and share them in the comments for this post.