Developing a consistent prayer life can be a challenge. It doesn’t come naturally to us to go to God with everything in prayer. Most of us know that prayer is important and that we should do it. However, we may not know exactly where to begin. Paul’s guidance in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is to, “pray without ceasing”. Learning how to live that way isn’t easy.
Here are some tips to begin the journey:
Keep it short
One of the pitfalls to prayer for a beginner is that we think that prayer needs to be articulate, eloquent, and long. We get nervous because long prayers can be intimidating. Don’t worry about that. A prayer can be a word or a short sentence. “Help” in the right context is as powerful of a prayer as there is. Keep it simple by keeping it short.
Directly after Paul tells the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing”, he says “give thanks in all circumstances” in verse 18. Take a moment and thank God in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. We have much to be thankful for even though it may not always seem like it. Make sure to express your thanks for what God has done.
Keep a prayer list
As prayer requests come to mind or as people share them with you, add it to a prayer list. Keep a running list with you at all times. When you have a few minutes free, take some time and pray down through your list. You would be surprised how much praying gets done when you have a few minutes here and there. A prayer list also allows you to see how God is working through your prayers.
We are all guilty of saying we will pray for someone and then forgetting to do it. Instead of just telling someone we will pray for them, stop right there and pray with them. That isn’t always possible to do, but it in most cases it is. Doing this allows us to be true to our word. If you do say that you will pray for someone, add it to your prayer list right away.
The Holy Spirit
Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as you pray. Sometimes we don’t know how to pray for someone or something. Ask the Spirit to give you wisdom as you pray. Ask the Spirit to bring to mind things that you may need to be praying for. The Holy Spirit is a powerful ally in our prayer life. Be attentive to the Spirit’s leading.
Don’t freak out
Sometimes we miss a day. We can get sick or busy. We may just forget. Don’t worry about it. Pick it back up again the next day and keep at it. Don’t allow a missed day to throw you off. Understand that consistency in anything is a discipline and it is a process of learning and growing. It will take us time to develop the habit of regular and intentional prayer.
At BLI, we take prayer seriously. We gather together every morning for community prayer. We pray together during classes, in the dorm rooms, and in meetings. Prayer is a vital and important part of what it means to be connected to the Biblical Life Institute community. One of the trademarks of BLI is that we are a small intimate Christian community and prayer is a major part of keeping that community strong.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you get started or restarted on your journey to developing a consistent prayer life. What suggestions do you have that have helped you develop consistency in your prayer life?
If you would like to read more from me, check out my blog at my Discipleship and Spiritual Formation blog.