I’m inconsistent by nature. I’m a BIG idea person and an excellent starter, but I struggle to be a finisher. This has been gravely evident in my spiritual life. I tell myself:
I’m going to memorize one new scripture a week (not quite).
I’ll wake up every morning at 4:00 am to have my quiet time (not even).
This year I’m going to finally read the Bible in it’s entirety (still working on it).
Despite my struggles to be consistent, I have somehow developed a few non-negotiables as it relates to prayer. This one discipline I’ve worked at with unrelenting effort, not because I am trying to master it, but simply out of sheer necessity. My prayer time has evolved into a must-have if I’m going to maintain some semblance of sanity.
Beth Moore says the following in her book Audacious:
“Take unrestrained pleasure in Him. There’s no end to Jesus. No way to wear Him out. No way to plug the spring and make the well run dry. No way to end up in a colossal codependent mess. He’s just not one to co-depend.”
God is not repelled by our neediness—we can return again and again to Him as much as we have need. Whether I’m crouched on the floor of my office, speeding down the road in my car, or perched on top of a toilet, I can go to God in prayer.
And I am no theologian, just a woman who has needed God more than the very air I’m breathing. And just in case you need Him like that too, I’m passing on these suggestions in hopes that your personal prayer time will become a place of refuge you can run to when the storms of life are more than you can bare. Here are six practical suggestions for improving your prayer life.
1: Repent and Start Fresh
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10 ESV
Praying when there is an area of sin in your life can be like trying to drive down a barricaded road. Sin is a blockage that prevents us from tapping into the heart of God. As difficult as it is, in order to develop a thriving prayer life, we must get into the habit of consistently confessing and repenting of our sins before God. Sometimes this will require us to apologize and confess to others too. If this is the case be courageous and know that intimacy with God is worth the work it takes to achieve it.
2: Create a Schedule
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time. . .”- Ephesians 5:15 ESV
Sometimes it is tempting to monopolize our prayer time with request that only concern us. Creating a prayer schedule helps to diversify our prayer life. I have seven categories for each day of the week. My schedule looks like this:
Monday: Immediate Family
Tuesday: Extended Family
Thursday: People in Ministry
Friday: All Things Pertaining to my blog, The Father Swap (This is the day I pray for you, my readers.)
Saturday: The World
3: Write Your Prayers Out
And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. – Habakkuk 2:2 ESV
After watching the movie War Room I decided to write my prayers out like Priscilla Shirer did in the movie. Instead of taping my prayers to a wall I decided to create a folder that houses all of my prayers. I read these out loud every week. This does not eliminate spontaneous prayer because sometimes that is needed but this strategy helps me with focus and intentionality in my prayer life.
4: Set a Consistent Time To Pray
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psa 90:12 NIV
I’ve already told you consistency is not my strong suit, but I still aim for the same time every day. My goal is to do it in the morning because that is when I am at my absolute best. I do this by setting my alarm and going to the same location. This develops routine, and consistency, which will eventually form a habit.
5: Don’t Quit
“Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
Prayer is never done. When the Bible encourages to pray continuously it is not to impose some impossible standard that we can never reach. It is to say, in this life you will need to communicate with God often. Prayer should not be compartmentalized into your quiet time only but it should seep into every part of your day.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1 NIV
If you have been praying about an issue for a long time it is easy to think your prayers are trapped within the four walls of your living space. Just because you have not received your answer is not reason enough to stop believing. God is a faithful God and He is able to answer your prayers.
The question becomes whether your desired outcome is His. The challenging truth is, it may not be. If that is the case know that God has a purpose for the unanswered prayer in your life and he will use it for good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
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