It feels icky to write about prayer in this way, offering you “5 practical tips for prayer”. I honestly believe that when we truly understand who God is and what He’s done for us, when we’re poor in spirit and needy, and when we’ve created space to pray, that’s all we really need to move forward in prayer.
An understanding of God
An understanding of our Need
Space to pray
You don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; you just need to be poor in spirit. (Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life)
However, I also know some of you speak in the language of “lists” and connect better with “plans”, so hopefully this will help. I often get stuck in my prayer life, so I don’t follow any one way. I think of these more like options, if I’m stuck in prayer, I pick up another way to pray that day.
1. Journal. Keep a journal nearby and just start writing. I open up to a new page, write the date, and write anything that’s on my mind. Usually it starts with a loooooong to-do list or all the things I want to do in my life or all the things I am failing at (it’s awful to admit, I tell God all the ways I’m a failure almost everyday. Oh how I bet that grieves Him that I still see my failure before I see my blessing, my identity in Christ. Maybe I need to start by writing this everyday: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
After I empty my brain of all my to-do lists and horrible self-talk, prayer happens. I usually start with, well you. I begin to pray for the women I teach/lead/shepherd, friends, family, neighbors, the hurting, those suffering, etc. This is often where the Lord gives me dreams and visions of what could be for the women of The Well or this city; I write out my million ministry ideas and plans and then I sit on them. I wait, continue to pray, until the right time to move or move on. I actually have a 10-year plan of bible studies to write for the women of The Well, and we’re moving through them on to year 3!
2. Prayer walk. Sometimes, I need to get out of my house, away from my computer and the pile of laundry or chores, and go out for a change of scenery. This honestly, is the best way I know how to connect with God through prayer. I walk. I talk to Him. I listen. I daydream. I intercede. I plead. I petition. I delight. I have to leave my house to be more present with God. I have my headphones in (so people don’t think I’m insane and talking to myself) but I’m actually walking in silence most of the time.
3. Music. Turning on worship music pulls me out of whatever is going on in my busy brain and refocuses my heart. Usually in between songs, I will sit, or stand, sometimes put my face to the ground, and pray. Whatever the Lord puts on my heart, I pray.
4. Lists. Oh my heavens this is the place I feel most like a failure. However, I’ve heard of people writing out a prayer list by the day of the week. For this season, I’m going to give it a try, mostly because I really do want to be more intentional in my prayer time (but this really does stifle me and make it feel more like a checklist to Santa than a conversation with the God Most High). Nonetheless, I am trying something new during Lent and this will be it!
Monday: Santino & Me (Our marriage, our dreams, ministry, family, our hearts, etc.)
Tuesday: My team & women’s group (women I serve and serve with)
Wednesday: The Well (our staff, our church, our elders/leaders)
Thursday: Women I disciple/shepherd & women in pain/suffering
Friday: Friends & Evangelism
Saturday: My neighborhood & the world (missions)
I wrote out things I will pray for under each day, specific scriptures and names. We’ll see how it goes and if I last more than a week.
5. Pray out loud. Yes, really, pray out loud. My mind wanders if I just try to pray in my own head. It’s too loud up there! I have to pray out loud. Even better if I’m with someone to pray out loud with them, I’ve seen God move when I gather with others to pray. This deserves a post of it’s own, and is so missing in the Church today—actually praying with others, not just telling them we will pray.
Journal, prayer walks, music, lists, praying out loud are all things I try from day to day. If I’m stuck, I try something else. Sometimes I do all of these, other times just one. I hope some of these help cultivate your prayer life and deepen your love for the Lord.
Whatever you try, may we experience freedom when we come to God in prayer.
What has worked for you?
How have you connected with God through prayer in a different avenue?
This weekend, take some time to focus on Who God is, our need for Him, and finding margin to pray. To seek Him, to pray for your own heart, and to pray for others.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1: 9-11)