Prayer is a discipline that is difficult to follow through with because we’re human. I have good intentions but it’s not easy to stay consistent. There are many ways to pray and no wrong way to pray. It’s a great privilege to be able to come into conversation with the God of the Universe. I suspect I’m not the only one who has a hard time sticking with it. Here are a few thoughts and ideas.
Prayer is work:
If you expect it to be fun then you’ll quit the first day it isn’t fun. Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden praying. Paul recognized that it’s work, as in Romans 15:30, “strive with me in prayer to God.” Don’t let it be boring or a drudgery, with creativity it can be enjoyable for you and the Lord will also be pleased.
Keep a prayerful mind:
Hundreds of thoughts pass through your mind daily. You may think negative or gossipy thoughts. Turn those thoughts into prayers. Ask God to help you think positively, or ask him to forgive you for thoughts that take your mind places it shouldn’t go. Turn daydreams and other passing thoughts into moments to recognize God’s transforming power. Keep prayer on your lips throughout the day. Ephesians 6:18, “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying….”
Remember, it’s good to keep a special time reserved for concentrated prayer besides the constant prayer phrases during the day.
- Clear a time: Prioritize a certain time every day. Jesus prayed often in the morning, but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you are a night person, carve out a time and use it. You may have to give up something, such as sleep, a TV show, etc. The shower or car can be very useful spaces for concentrated prayer.
- Be alert: Out of bed, or you might fall asleep. Reward yourself with coffee or yogurt. Use your voice—sing, shout, yell, whisper, speak aloud, read scriptures aloud. Walk around the house or take a walk down the street.
- Isolation: Don’t let the phone control you, put it in another room or turn it off. If there’s children in the house, talk with them beforehand, busy them with something, spouses can take turns alone with God, or include the kids in some creative way.
- Clear distractions: It’s ok to have a pad of paper. When you think of something you have to do that’s distracting you, write it down for later, get it off your mind, then you’ll be able to forget it and return to prayer.
- Fasting: Occasionally refrain from things such as food, Social Media, or your phone. This draws you closer to the Lord into deeper concentration on prayer.
- Body posture: A special prayer chair. Standing up prayer. Kneeling. Laying prostrate. Raised hands in prayer. This could change throughout your prayer time.
Methods to try:
- A prayer wheel is a great tool, go around the circle and it takes about an hour….5 minutes on each section- you could shorten or lengthen the sections. Click here.
- A doodle drawing with people names in it. Click here.
- Art journaling: Many people draw in their bibles, as an expression, to memorize scripture or as praise, prayer and worship. You can buy bibles with space set aside especially for this. Markers, pens and pencils are made for this purpose. Click here.
- Photographs of people on your wall as a reminder to pray.
- A prayer walk: Hike in the woods praising God for the beautiful creation, pray for families in houses you pass, walk around your church or school, alone or with another person.
- Keep a written list: Who to pray for, situations, requests, missionaries, friends and family.
- Journaling: Write out struggles, requests, heartaches, praises, and healings. Write down words, pictures, verses, visions, or words of knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives. It’s easy to forget if not written down. You might write poems, or a letter to God. Keep track of answers to prayer, promises fulfilled, guidance given, healings received. You’ll see His faithfulness and love for you when you reflect after days or years. This can be done on paper or on your computer, color highlighting can be used for answers, miracles, or when God is speaking to you. Remember that healing is sometimes a one-time miracle, but more often a process, so don’t give up.
- Color reminder: Whenever you see purple, you pray for your friend Mary.
- A-Z praying: Things to pray about, names of people or situations, the attributes of God, or praises through the alphabet.
- Prayer Partners: Prayer walk with a friend, texting with ongoing requests, email, phone, Face time, meet together at homes, pray with spouse, meet a friend at a coffee shop once a week. Prayer in partners is great accountability and brings friendships to a deeper level.
Parts Included in Prayer: (not exhaustive)
- Praise Him for who He is. Names for God – Almighty Father, Wonderful Counselor…
- Praise Him for what He does/Thanksgiving.
- Confession and Forgiveness.
- Petitions and Intercessions.
- Travailing prayer: Some intercessors groan or weep uncontrollably. (Romans 8:23, 26) It’s as if God is bringing about his kingdom through labor pains and birth. Other times he allows us to experience firsthand the grief he feels over the sin and pain of the world. Times when you are deeply grieved about something.
- Prayer for the community, world, and news reports: When you hear a siren, pray for the people and personnel involved in an accident or illness, your church leaders, your community and city leader’s decisions, national and world leaders and issues involved. Much of the news is disturbing so commit it to prayer.
- Prayer over your calendar and schedule: Meetings you’re a part of, lunch dates, leadership responsibilities, time spent on hobbies, groups and clubs. There might not be anything wrong with your activities, but sometimes we say yes to too many things. Ask for guidance and balance in your family, work, school, ministry and church responsibilities.
- Read the Bible. Free reading, devotionals, research for Bible study questions.
- Pray the scriptures: Put your name in the verse, the name of your child, etc. It might go a little like this: Ephesians 6:10, “Help me to be strong in you Lord, in your mighty power, help me to put on the whole armor of God to take a stand against the devil’s schemes.” Use passages that express needs, fears, joys and praises. Personalize them. It’s ok!
- Singing: Hymns, songs, new melodies which may come to you. Put bible verses to music.
- Praying in the Spirit: The prayer language of tongues is a gift given at times in order to edify you, (1 Cor. 14:4), wells up to encourage you when you feel spiritually dead or discouraged. Enables you to pray according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27) Especially important in spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:18)
- Listening! Be still to hear and see what the Lord gives. Meditate. Expect him to tug at your heart, move your conscience, or give revelation about what you need to do or change. He might surprise you with words of knowledge, bible verses, guidance, pictures, visions, or songs. Our God is creative!
Keep pressing on!
Please share other ideas that you’ve found helpful or useful in prayer! I’d love to hear them.
*Some of these ideas were inspired by the teaching manual, “The Dunamis Project, The Power of Prayer,” by Bradford Long, Presbyterian-Reformed Ministries International.