I’m a wanna-be prayer warrior. I want to grow a deeper prayer life, but I have a secret struggle with boredom. I know prayer carries power and changes lives. But whenever I settle down to pray, I find it difficult to concentrate. Three minutes later, my mind raced back to the last season of Downton Abbey, or wanders to my to-do list. Or I attempt to pray before bed, but I fall asleep.
Are prayer wimps a thing? I doubted I am one and I’m left pondering how to pray well.
I don’t mean to be flippant. Prayer is a wonderful opportunity. Through words like these in scripture, we have an open offer from the lord of the universe: “call unto me and I will respond to you.” (Jeremiah 33:3a) We have an assurance that He hears us: “You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will hearken to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)
From the pages of our scripture, we saw instances of men who prayed. Even Jesus, the Son of God, prayed. So I know I should too, but I find it challenging. I suspect I’m not alone. Many Christians struggle with knowing how to pray.
Why do we struggle with how to prayer?
Maybe we over-spiritualize it. We reasoned we have to pray extensively and fluent for it to actually work. We compare ourselves with spiritual giants like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, and we feel unreserved and undeserving. At times we distinct prayer from the rest of life; we stare at it as something we do at prayer gatherings or in our silent time.
I studied Paul’s words in Colossians 4:2, “Be earnest, unwearied and steadfast in your prayer being alert and intent with thanksgiving l.” I wonder… how do I devote myself to prayer when I have a normal life with an occupation and children? I fail to recall that Paul was surely talking about a heart attitude, not a never-ending prayer meeting or devotional time. Dedicated prayer is a heart tendency to turn to God at each turn in our day.
On my trip after prayer wimp to warrior, I’m learning a few real tips for how to pray:
Tip 1: Pray Simply
We may think we have to pray fervently, convincing words for God to listen to us, but in actuality He listens even to our brief “SOS” prayers.
“The lesser the words, the better the prayer,” said Martin Luther. Isn’t that comforting? We can communicate to God in normal language, just like we communicate to our friends. We don’t have to pray extensively. God enjoys a modest word of praise, like “Lord, I adore you.” He values the prayer of a suffering mom when she cries, “Restore my kid.” He replies the simple request: “God, give me strength for today.”
Tip 2: Study the scripture and Pray over Verses
Have you ever had a one-sided conversation with someone who talked incessantly without eavesdropping to you? The conversation didn’t go very far, did it? We do similar thing to God when we pray without studying the Bible, His everlasting letter of love and knowledge to all of us on earth. Studying the scripture assists us to know God. It brings life to our prayers.
If you want to have an actual conversation with God, study the Scripture. Let David’s words in the Psalms enliven your prayers. Pause in the Gospels to pray concerning a verse that motivates you, requesting God to work that fact into your heart. Let the words of Paul’s letters give you definite prayer demands for yourself and the people you love.
Tip 3: Make Prayer Active and Multi-Sensory
Prayer becomes gloomy when we turn it into only spiritual exercise. God made us unique beings, so why don’t we bring creativeness to our prayer lives? Illuminating a scented candle can send a signal to our brains: “It’s a period to pray.” It can bring a holy sense of admiration to a few minutes of prayer. Listening to music can help us concentrate on God. Many people like scribbling, sketching, or image while they pray.
I assisted my ADHD-plagued brain concentrate on prayer by keeping a prayer magazine. Making a list of requests keeps my mind alert; I stop to pray for each request after writing it down. Sometimes I write out lengthy prayers like a letter. A prayer magazine strengthens faith when you look back over your requests and remember God’s responses.
Remember you don’t have to be seated silently to pray. My greatest prayer times ensue out on road walk. Praying audibly also makes me keep my mind busy, but I save that for prayer times at home.
Tip 4: Make Prayer an Essential Part of Your Day
This verse surprises me: “Celebrate at all times, pray without ending, give appreciations in all situations;” (1 Thess. 5:16-17) is it actually possible to pray without ending?
How about trying an experiment? Start and end your day with prayer. Lift up brief prayers to God as often as you can throughout your day. Pray over your agenda. Ask God to aid you with your to-do list. When you hear a disturbing news report, lift the condition up to God. Say a prayer for your partner or child as you embrace him or her. Pray for the individual you’re speaking to. A friend of mine gives appreciations whenever she stops at red lights while driving. search for prayer moments that work for your life.
Tip 5: Pray Expectantly
Prayer becomes a lifeless exercise when we’re not looking for answers. Jesus invites us to expect God to work. How much more thrilling prayer turn out to be when we keep our eyes open to watch for God’s responses. At times I wonder how many responses we miss because we don’t really expect God to answer.
Remember Colossians 4:2: “Devote Yourselves to Prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
How about getting in progress today? Don’t get disheartened if you get unfocused like I do. Just get back on a pathway. Pray and lookout for God’s answers, so you can thank Him. He might respond otherwise than you anticipated, but His response will always be superior to what you had in mind.
Read Also: Living with Need – Cross Walk Devotional