Prayer, a necessity to our spiritual experience, is also one of the trickiest practices of our spiritual experience. Is can be frustrating because there is not one clearly defined formula for success. Answers may seem non-existent, especially when things don’t happen in the exact way we prayed for.
There are difficult requests that challenge how we pray. In order to lessen our disappointment when a grim situation looks like it may our way, we may opt for protective measures by choosing to pray vaguely or not at all. This way, our hearts won’t be too crushed by the outcome of a hard situation.
We’re also encouraged to pray for extended periods of time. The prayer testimonies that are widely shared are from people who wake up long before dawn to spend hours on their knees. We don’t hear enough about the experiences of those whisper a simple prayer under their breath. This may lead us to wonder if one style of prayer is more acceptable than another.
God desires for us to be as close to Him as possible, which is why He is so easily accessible to all of us through prayer. There are no hotlines or extensive queues for us to wait to speak to Him. We don’t have to go through a series of angels first, before reaching His ear. Because He wants to hear from us directly, God has provided us with a support to help us communicate better with Him: the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:26, 27 (NLT) says “The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
We’re not approaching a stubborn, heartless God with a pre-programmed default of ‘no!’ to all prayers. We don’t have to squeeze out a rare ‘yes’ by combining formal wording, flattering expressions, and a contrite heart.
Let’s shift our mindset about prayer. God already loves us dearly; we don’t have to stress ourselves by trying to impress Him. Let’s focus on staying connected by talking with Him and listening for Him. When we’re unsure of how to pray, let’s not hesitate to ask God. He wants to help us.
Tips to improve your prayer life:
Here are some suggestions for ways to improve your prayer life. It’s okay if these are not your preferred method of prayer. You’re welcome to share some of your favorite tips that we can add to this list.
Read a text or short passage, then meditate over it. Try personalizing God’s Word for yourself. For example, Psalm 37:23, 24 (NLT):
“Lord, please direct my steps. Thank you for delighting in every detail of my life. Though I stumble, You have promised that I will never fall because You, Lord, hold me by my hand.”
Add sacred music
Create a playlist or compilation of your favorite worship songs or hymns. Sing the words as a prayer. Don’t worry about the sound of your voice—God loves to hear from you!
Get out of bed
Where able, the physical act of getting out of bed helps to improve alertness. Some people prefer to exercise first, in order to fully awaken themselves, allowing them to have a better focus for prayer time afterward. Pray in a place that is free of distraction. Create a closet or nook with simple decorations, including lighting, comfy seating or cushions if you prefer to kneel. Keep your Bible and other devotional needs there so that you’re ready for prayer time.
If you find speaking a challenge, try writing down your prayers and thoughts instead. You can invest in a special journal and smooth pen, but any notebook and pen will suffice. Remember that God does not selectively listen to prayers based on one’s ability to speak or write. Use words that are familiar to you. It’s not the word count or their floweriness that matters, but the quality and sincerity of your prayers.
Pray with a partner
Find a committed person to pray with. Schedule this time. You may meet in person or over the phone. Text messaging and video calls are great meeting spaces too.
Attend prayer events
Participate in prayer events when they’re offered either in person or via online sources. Attend prayer meetings at church or start a small group prayer meeting in your home or online.