- National &
International Religion Report
How is your
prayer life? If you are like most of us, it has seasons, and
sometimes lacks consistency. I cannot think of anything more
important than intimacy with our Heavenly Father.
"It is good to be near God." (Psalm 73:28) Nearly fourteen
hundred verses in the Bible talk about prayer. A rich and
fulfilling prayer life is essential to our spiritual growth.
This is not a "how to"
on prayer. These are simply some ideas that have benefitted me in
my time with God. I encourage you to give them a try to see which
ones work for you.
1. Find Your
Ideal Time. Are you a morning person or a night person?
When are you most alert? "Therefore be clear minded and
self-controlled so that you can pray." (1 Peter 4:7) Identify
your "optimal prayer time." How many times have you fallen asleep
while praying? For me, morning works out best. It is a great way
to start the day. I get up earlier now than I ever imagined, and I
am not even a morning person! Make it a regular part of your
schedule - and stick with it! "Be faithful in prayer."
(Romans 12:12) Pencil it in your planner if you must. Why is it
when we get busy our time with God is often the first thing to go?
Make it a priority! Even a few minutes each day is better than
none at all. It will hardly affect your schedule, and it's easy. I
started with just a few minutes, and I now have a powerful
extended prayer time every day. If you are not a consistent
pray-er, here is an experiment: For thirty days, set aside a
few minutes each day for a regular time with God. Give it a try
and see what happens. It will make a difference!
Yourself Somewhere Private, Quiet and without Distractions.
"But when you pray go into your room, close the door and pray to
your Father." (Matthew 6:6) This will be your "refuge," your
place of retreat. Stay out of the bed! This is not nap time. I
have a desk set up specifically for this purpose, so I am always
ready. I turn off the furnace or air conditioner, and close the
door to get it really quiet. How else will you hear that
"still, small voice?" Naturally, you can pray anywhere, such
as in the car, at work or around the house. However, true "quiet
time" is the key to a powerful, effective prayer life.
3. Be Quiet and
Listen. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm
46:10) Contemplate His presence. Take a moment to realize that
Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, is waiting to hear from
you! "God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer."
(Psalm 66:19) Anyone who knows me will tell you I like to talk,
especially about God. So you can imagine what it is like when I
talk to God. He patiently listens to my prayers, and waits for His
chance to speak. Finally, as I wind down my prayer time, He gets
ready to share some wisdom or guidance with me (which I just
requested). Then I say "Amen," and I am done. "Jim," He says to
Himself, "I have so much to share with you, if you would only
listen." Let God speak to you. While you are praying,
pause, be quiet and allow Him to respond. Many times you will not
get an answer, but sometimes you will. You must learn to discern
His voice. It may be a thought or a feeling, but you will sense
His leading. "Listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your
God." (Exodus 15:26)
4. Talk with Your
Best Friend. Be yourself. Remember you are relating to a
real Person. Do not be formal or ritualistic. A friend once
explained how she talks with God in a casual, friendly way, and
encouraged me to try it. I had always prayed something like
"Thanks Lord, forgive me Lord, I want this and I want that." It
was quick, and always the same, except my wish list at the end.
Having a casual conversation with God was foreign to me. It was
awkward at first, but it quickly became natural and rewarding. I
just realize Jesus is there with me and talk to Him. This has had
a tremendous impact on my spiritual growth. It has given me an
incredible intimacy with God, and I am much more aware of His
presence. He is your best friend. You can share anything with
Him! Are you angry? Tell Him. If you do not feel close to Him,
say so. Laugh, cry or scream if you need to; He is there for you.
5. Talk with the
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
When you pray, to whom are you praying? Speak to all three
members of the Trinity. Tell God you want to be His man. Tell
Jesus you want to be more like Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill
you with God's power. Ask Him to open your spiritual eyes to see
and your spiritual ears to hear what God is saying.
6. Pray with
A.C.T.S. - A.C.T.S. is an easy way to remember key
elements of prayer. My prayer time has improved dramatically since
I started using it. It's simply prayer in four parts:
- "Praise be to God!" (Psalm 68:35) Tell God how much you
appreciate Him. Express your love for Him. Praise His power and
majesty. This is a great way to begin your prayer time. Sometimes
I watch the sun rise, and praise God for the beauty of His
creation. You should never run out of praise. "How awesome are
- "If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from
all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) Tell Him where you have
fallen short. Be specific. I thank Him for the forgiveness I have
in Christ, and ask for help and strength to turn away from future
"glorify him with thanksgiving" (Psalm 69:30) You have plenty
of reasons to be thankful. Thank God for His love, His
faithfulness, His patience and a million other things. Express
gratitude for what He's doing in your life. Thank Jesus for dying
on the cross for you. Thank the Holy Spirit for indwelling you,
and never leaving. Thank Him for being your conscience, your
counselor and that "still small voice."
- "Make your requests known to God."
(Philippians 4:7) Tell God what you want, no matter how small it
seems to you. Do you really think any of your requests are big to
God the Creator? You should have lots of intercessory prayer here.
Remember: As a Promise Keeper, you are committed to pray for your
pastor and your church every day.
Ideas for a More
Fulfilling Prayer Life
1. Have a "Mini
Worship Time." Listen to praise music before you begin
your quiet time. I love to do this while I drink my coffee.
Sometimes, I sing along. (Fortunately no one can hear me.) Nearly
every praise song we sing in church is available on CD or cassette
at the Christian bookstores. My favorites include: