How can we get back to a vibrant prayer life during life’s busyness? How can we get back to truly engaging with God?
I want to share with you ten practical ideas to stimulate your time in prayer. If we are honest, most of us would admit that a consistent life of prayer can be a struggle to sustain. But it need not be that way since prayer is truly a vital aspect of our walk of faith.
Meditate on the greatness of God
I am convinced that all our life decisions are bound to our understanding of God and His word. That is, if we have a proper view of the Savior and His sufficient word, it will properly motivate us in every life choice. This is particularly true when it comes to prayer. An expansive view of God gained by meditation on His word should motivate the believer to spend more time with Him. We must be like David, whose spiritual priority was to “behold the beauty of God” and gain strength for life's challenges (Ps 27:4).
Increase your knowledge of prayer
Read books and listen to sermons on prayer. Let your time of focused study equip you to pray more effectively. Whether it is through a classic like Henry’s The Method of Prayer or a modern treatment like Henderson’s Transforming Prayer, devote yourself to increasing your knowledge, and pray that that knowledge will transform into commitment.
Develop a tender heart by praying through tragic news
You can do this throughout your day when you encounter things like receiving an amber alert, seeing a car crash, or reading about current events. Often people complain that it is difficult to focus during prayer. This is a practical way to focus and develop a compassionate heart for those in need.
Find a place of solace
Have a place where you can go and quiet yourself before the Lord. Jesus would often go to the mountain to pray away from the crowds. I often retreat to my backyard with my noise-canceling headphones to find that quiet place to engage with God in prayer.
Fight the wandering mind with lists, pictures, and notes
There are times for prayer that should be orderly—times when you have the faces and needs of people in front of you and methodically prayer through those needs. Personally, I use the Echo Prayer Manager app to help me keep track of what I want to pray for. I stopped journaling prayer requests because I wanted to have access to edit and update easily. And I dreaded the thought of losing that journal.
Enlist a prayer partner
This should be someone you can pray with and someone who can keep you accountable in your prayer life.
Develop the habit of praying scripture
If you need help developing this habit, consider Donald Whitney’s Praying the Bible. Learn to read and pray through the Word of God. The double blessing is apparent. Read the word and thank God for what you are reading. Ask for grace to walk in the promises and commands from the text, praise Him for attributes captured by the author, and confess the sins you are convicted of that grieve the heart of God.
Introduce fasting as a way to seek the Lord on a new level
Fasting is a lost discipline in the church today. It is a way to focus attention on special needs or to seek the Lord in a concentrated manner. When you fast, you are giving up physical sustenance for spiritual focus.
Commit to a short amount of time in prayer and allow the experience of praying to God to be an aroma, and then let the Spirit of God convict and encourage you to grow your prayer life.
Be consistent and try dividing prayer into sessions
This will help you work up to longer times spent in prayer. It’s better to start off consistent than to have initial lofty goals that eventually die out. Try following Daniel's model (Dan 6:10, 13) by dividing your prayer time into three sessions throughout the day. Be consistent as you retrain your spiritual muscles for more intimate communication with your Heavenly Father.
[Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated.]