I wanted to start another series, this time dealing with some of the practical ideas and tips and tricks that involve our spirituality. Please, do not understand this as me setting legalistic goals, but rather helping by giving some tips that I have found useful over the years. Sometimes we know Biblical truths, that God tells us to love others, to pray, we need to study his word, we need to meditate on his word, we need to be prepared to battle; but the hard part is always putting these truths into effect in our lives. We know the theory, but we lack knowing how to put it into practice with our 21st century busy lifestyles.
The matter of prayer is sometimes so easily forgotten when we get down to our every day devotions. I myself have given some pretty lame excuses for why I wasn’t praying regularly, “I don’t have time to sit down to pray today, I’ll practice my pray without ceasing by praying for what I need to during the day.” “I don’t know what to pray for today.” “God has blessed me so much recently, I don’t need to pray for anything specific.” “I’ve sinned and I’m ashamed to pray.” I’m sure most of us have thought these thoughts at least once. Let the those who have never sinned in the area of prayer throw the first stone. We all need to learn a little bit more on how to pray.
I wanted to put together some practical tips and advice but I also wanted to show the importance of prayer. You may already know most of these points I’m going to share, but most likely, all of us all need a good reminded because when we don’t put prayer practice, it is sin. We need to understand why it is sin, and why it is so very important to truly “Pray without ceasing.”
- Prayer deepens our relationship with Christ. We can’t have any kind of relationship when there is no communication. God wants to hear our heart’s desires and wants to have conversations with us. It is important to him.
- Through prayer we can learn more of Him. We can learn how powerful he is when he answers those prayers we think don’t have anymore hope. We learn he hears and he cares when he answers those intimate prayers and grants us those desires that no one else in this world knows. We can be reminded of many of God’s characteristics through prayer.
- Prayer is our secret weapon in battle. In Ephesians 6, we see the armor that God wants us to put on: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, sandals of the Gospel of God, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the spirit. “And 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 for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6: 18) Prayer is what keeps us alert in battle. It is our secret weapon and without it, we have already lost half the battle.
- Satan hates it when we pray. Lots of times, when we don’t pray, it is because of things that he has put into our path to destroy our commitment to prayer and to God. Other things that can take our concentration, our thoughts, our passions, our time. He knows that our prayer time is important for our relationship with Christ and to win the battle and he doesn’t want us to win.
- It is God’s will for us to pray. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- We can have peace when we pray and give God our anxiousness and worries. (Philippians 4:6-7)
- Sometimes our most simple prayers are the ones that are the purest in heart and honest. (Matthew 6:7)
- Sometimes, we are speechless and don’t know what to pray or how to pray. But the Bible promises that the Spirit helps us pray what we need to pray. He intercedes for us. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)
LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY. (Luke 11:1b)
So, how can we put prayer into our lives? Here are some methods that I have used.
- Prayer by Categories. One of the first ways that I started praying specifically was with a chart and categories. Some of the categories I had were: Friends, Family, Church and Ministries, Missions, Unsaved Friends, Country, My Future. I would write down the names of people and simple words that would help me remember what the prayer request was. Sometimes, I didn’t even have a specific prayer request, but I would go through the names of all my friends praying specifically for their lives.
- Prayer Chart/Calendar. Taking the Idea from the previous tip, I had a chart/ weekly schedule of prayer. Each day I would pray for a certain category. For example: On Monday I would pray for family, on Tuesdays I would pray for my friends, on Wednesdays for the unsaved people that I knew, on Thursday for my countries, on Fridays for missions, on Saturdays for my future and on Sundays for the church, and ministries.
- Prayer meetings and Prayer Lists. Prayer meetings are a great way to get to know the people of your church more. You can learn what they are struggling with and pray with and for them. I had a small notebook dedicated for these times. I would write the name of the person, and draw a quick symbol for remembering what the prayer request was, since so many times, many of them were very similar. For example, I might write: Rachael’s John: ✚(for his health), I might have a simple heart for salvation, two rings for a marriage, a hammer for work, a book for studies, and a tree for spiritual growth.
- Echo Prayer App. I used this app for only a short time. For those who like to have things on their phone, instead of having a notebook or journal this is for them. You can program an alarm to remind you when to pray for a specific prayer request. A timer is also available to control how long you pray (weird, but yeah.) and obviously, you can write your lists of requests and thank yous, as well as put when a prayer request was answered. I am someone who likes to write things down on real life paper, especially when it comes to something that needs more of my thought and concentration. My phone is just too distracting at times, and I guess I feel like I lose the personal touch.
- Prayer Journal. This is my personal favorite and something I have done for over a decade now. I take a notebook, and write my most intimate prayers and thoughts that I have for God in my prayer journal. Some people use it to keep track of their prayer requests, but I like to use it to pour out my heart to God. It’s where I confess, and where I praise God for who he is and what he has done. I can come to him with those requests and desires that I share with no one else, and know that he hears me. I’ve enjoyed going back over my past journals and seen how I have grown, how God showed me something of him, answered a prayer of mine, and been present in my life. When I look back on my past journals, I like to jot down quick thoughts on post its and stick it to the page. I’ll write things like: “Thank you God, for your mercy in this situation.” “Thank you for reminding me that you are powerful.” “I’ve grown so much in you since this time.” “Lord, these things I still need to work on.”
If you find it difficult to know how to start a prayer journal, here are two blogs that have lists of prayer journal starters.
- Pray Songs. When I am getting ready to do my quiet time (devotions, meditation, whatever you want to call it), I like to listen to songs that will help me turn off my other thoughts, be able to concentrate on what I need to, and help me get into the mood to praise God. One of my favorites is Sons of Korah. They are an Australian band that puts Psalms to music. I will also listen to the Getty’s, Instrumental hymns, Sovereign Grace Music, and others. I like this list of songs that blogger Leigh Ann shares in this post.
Speak, O Lord by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistellli
Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin
Lord I Need You by Chris Tomlin
Be Still My Soul by Kari Jobe.”
- Pray Verses/ Prayers. The Bible is our guide, and it can also be our guide in how to pray. We can pray verses that speak personally to us and the prayers that are already written there. There are so many of the prayers of Paul at the end of his apostles that are great to meditate on and pray.
- Pray specifically with your Bible Reading. Use your Bible reading as a base for your prayer. Take the lessons you learn and turn them into prayers. Sometimes, as we read and study the Bible, we find things that we are convicted about and immediately sent us into prayer motion. When this happens, its so often better to pause or stop your reading and meditate on that piece.
- Pray for someone who has mistreated you. This can be one of the most difficult decisions, but trust me, it can change your view of the person. Prayer changes us, and when we pray with the intention of praying for that person’s life, it’s basically impossible to stay mad at the person. The love of Christ will usually convict of the lack of our love, forgiveness and mercy. If Christ forgave us for so much more, who are we to stay angry or mad at someone for hurting us? We should pray that they can recognize their error before God (if it is truly a sin and not just a misunderstanding or a hurt we put on).
- Pray without ceasing. We all know that we can pray whenever and wherever we want. It’s the habit that is hard to form. I like to leave notes on my walls, or in my car that remind me to pray about someone or something. Also, if I think of a certain someone that I know is in a difficult time, I will stop and pray for them right then and there. It doesn’t take much time and you can do it without anyone else really realizing that you’re doing it. This is where the prayer app could become more handy, with the reminders to pray at certain times of the day. I definitely need to work more on this, and really make prayer a habit of mine at all times.
What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks for creating a habit of prayer, or for using in your prayer time