I’ve been a professional Christian for some time now. By that I mean I own five different Bibles (only using one on a regular basis), I know all the various musicians and authors that I’m supposed to like (some are Christians in a band, not a Christian band…there is a difference), and I know the Christian lingo like “I pray for traveling mercies.” Oh, and that reminds me, on occasion, I do pray.
My prayer life is something that I’ve always found lacking in my life. I had a mentor ask me one time how my prayer life was going. I remember vividly spouting off the 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “prayer without ceasing” excuse saying my entire life was just a constant prayer and it was great!
Praying is hard for me, and maybe it’s hard for you. Sure I pray when I’m in the back of my Uber because I’m scared out of mind and know he just committed 12 different driving violations. When a crisis is creating chaos in my life you’ll find my face scrunched up, really concentrating to beam up my message to God. Heck, I’ll even have well-meaning intentions to pray for my friend by saying, “I’ll pray for you,” but then I never do.
Honestly, most of these examples are merely me just using God as a vending machine, although there are some moments where my prayer does come naturally.
What doesn’t come naturally is setting apart a designated time to meditate, pray, and listen to the Lord. That’s the type of prayer I struggle with because it forces me to realize how self-involved I am, and that I’m still the fearful doubting believer I don’t want to be known for.
I know I need to pray more, but most times I view prayer as more of a burden than as a solution. This needs to change.
"Praying gives sense, brings wisdom, and broadens and strengthens the mind. The prayer closet is a perfect schoolteacher and schoolhouse for the preacher. Thought is not only brightened and clarified in prayer, but thought is born in prayer.” - E.M. Bounds
What Does Scripture Say About Praying?
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people," Ephesians 1:18
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’Matthew 6:9-13
Prayer is the not so secret weapon that God gave to us believers. It’s a way for God to enlighten our mind, give us clarity in our situations, and be humble before His majesty. Prayer ties our soul to the Creator and his calling on our life.
Think of it like this.
If you have coffee every morning with Mark Cuban, you’re going to get better at investing your money into companies. If you have lunch with J.J. Abrams every day, you’ll probably become a better storyteller. The same is true for God. If we spend time every day in his presence, eventually we will become more and more like Jesus.
Let’s look at the Lord’s prayer. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Did you notice that little detail? We are asking heaven to come to earth. We, the individual is asking for that in our own personal life. Prayer changes the world because prayer changes us. Let’s bring heaven to earth.
Harvard neurologist, Sara Lazar, conducted an interesting study on meditation. You see, the frontal cortex of our brain shrinks typically as we get older. However, Lazar discovered that this doesn’t happen to people who consistently meditate. It revealed that 50-year-old meditators had as much gray matter as 25-year-olds who didn’t meditate.
The other interesting thing about this study is that as the frontal cortex grew bigger, the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for feeling stress, fear, and anxiety – had gotten smaller.
Prayer shouldn’t be a burden. Prayer should be a joy!
Prayer is not only a spiritual tool we should use in our everyday lives, but it’s a practical one as well. It changes us for the better.
Prayer boils down to focus and discipline. It opens up the margin in our lives to focus on what is truly important and at the same time mentally prepares us for what might be coming our way. Prayer is just like a muscle. If you’re not used to using it, it’s going to be hard at first. The more you flex and stretch your prayer life, the easier it will become.
So here are three tips on how to be more consistent and intentional in your prayer life:
- Start early.
- Start the day off with prayer and time in scripture. Scripture helps direct our prayers and receive instruction from the Lord.
- You may be asking yourself, “Well, how much time do I need to sit in prayer?” Start for 5 minutes and then increase your time from there. Five minutes will seem like an eternity starting out, but it’s better to start small and work yourself to a more significant amount of time. The point here is for you to succeed in having a consistent prayer time with the Lord. Remember though that even though we are trying to create a habit of prayer, we don’t need to let that outweigh the holiness that comes with prayer.
- Schedule it.
- Make prayer time non negotiable. Have this recurring on your calendar.
- Your “prayer meeting” is the most important meeting you’ll have all day.
- Maybe you have a hard time knowing what to pray about. I like following the A.C.T.S. model because it provides a simple format for our prayers. Here it is below:
* A = Adoration
Open up the prayer by worshiping God for who He is. Sing a worship song or lift up praises on how He has been faithful in your life.
* C = Confession
This is the part of the prayer you’re honest and vulnerable with God. Yes, He already knows our heart and our sin but there is something compelling when you say it out loud to hear your own transgressions.
* T = Thanksgiving
Take time to thank God for how he provides for your life. Giving thanks to God is a response to His character. It allows us to be wide-eyed and wonder-filled to our amazing God.
* S= Supplication
Supplication is asking God to do things in our lives and our world. This is where we cry out for help. Letting God know our desires and what we need.
I love this prayer by Francis of Assisi, and I think it’s great example of how we should model our own prayers.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; when there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.”
Today, may you seek God. May you create margin in your life to hear what the Lord has for your life. May the Lord make you an instrument of peace and give you wisdom beyond your years.
What are some practical things that help you in your prayer life? Comment below.