We know we should pray. We want to pray. But we don’t. Why?
Because we think prayer is boring.
We sit down to pray with the best intentions, and then we’re suddenly thinking of all the other things we could be doing, or worse, we drift off to sleep. There’s almost a “universal tendency to pray the same old things about the same old things,” and that’s a recipe for boredom (Donald S. Whitney). This doesn’t have to happen much before we give up on maintaining any sort of intentional prayer time. Instead, we settle for the same old meal-time prayers we’ve been saying since childhood and the occasional plea for help when our day gets hard.
I’ve had a relationship with Jesus for a long time, and some seasons of prayer have been full of life and enthusiasm, but a few months ago, I felt kind of “blah” about the whole thing. I was getting up early, but social media and email were grabbing my attention much more than scripture and prayer. Beth Moore says, “We will not live bolder than we pray.” I agree, and if I’m honest, I wasn’t living very boldly.
Friend, something had to change.
Here’s how I breathed enthusiasm and meaning back into my prayer life:
- I remembered who I’m praying to. When we pray, we aren’t whispering to nothing. We’re talking to our God - a God who hears and responds. We’re calling out to our Creator - the only one powerful enough to speak creation into existence, to make a universe out of nothing. He is our Provider, Sustainer, our Refuge and Safe Place. He is our Healer, our Friend, Savior, and our Deliverer. He’s incredibly powerful and strong, yet so near and approachable. (I’m getting all fired up just typing these words!) Because of Jesus, we can approach the throne of grace with boldness and confidence. What privilege and what power.
- I set a time and place. If we’ve been friends any length of time, you know I live by my calendar. All kinds of important meetings and appointments fill my days, but I was leaving the most important to chance. For years, I had a standing appointment with the Lord, but as kiddos arrived and sleep became a scarce commodity, the appointment turned into a suggestion. Now I plan a week in advance - some mornings and some evenings.
- I assigned each day an emphasis. There are some really important things I want to pray for, but unless I write them down, I won’t remember. If I prayed for all of it every day I’d be sitting for hours, so I’ve started using a sticky note pad that lists each day of the week. I give each day a theme, so by the end of the week, I’ve covered some serious ground.
- I started journaling. I often start by writing a few of the verses from my daily scripture reading, then I’ll either write my entire prayer in letter form to the Lord, or I jot down a few simple statements or phrases in more of a bullet point list. Writing keeps my mind from wandering, and I love looking back to find answered prayers.
- I started praying scripture. This has been the biggest, most refreshing change of all: I use my daily scripture reading to guide my prayer time. I look for a verse or passage that pings me, write it down, and use it as I pray for the day’s focus. If I show up without energy or desire to pray, praying scripture turns this around FAST. Here’s a quick example. I often pray for God to bless the team I’m privileged to lead at True To Life Ministries, but prayed through the lens of Psalm 23:1, the prayer becomes, “Lord, shepherd this team - guard them, protect them, and lead them.” The same request prayed through Psalm 73:26 becomes, “Father, when the days are hard, long, and overwhelming, strengthen them and remind them you are enough; that you are all they need.” That’s way more heartfelt and meaningful than just “bless the team.”
These weren’t new concepts for me, just disciplines I needed to restart.
What will move your prayer life a notch or two toward the “Amazingly Awesome” side?
- Need to remember who you’re praying to? Try reading Psalm 89 or watching this brief sermon from the recent International Justice Mission’s Global Prayer Gathering.
- Need an appointment? Schedule your prayer time now for the coming week.
- Need focus? Here are some sticky notes similar to mine.
- Interested in learning to pray scripture? Here are two great resources I recommend: Praying the Bible and Living Free.
IJM’s Gary Haugen has it right: “By inventing the phenomenon of human prayer, God has decided to allow our asking to make a difference in the world.” We can’t afford to miss out.
I want to hear your thoughts - please comment below! What’s your next step to breathe enthusiasm and meaning into your prayer life?