I would hazard a guess that most of us want to pray more, since we all know we should be praying constantly. But how do we bridge the gap in what we should be doing and what we are doing? If you’re anything like me, you end up doing nothing more than mental prayer flips as we’re heading out the door, hoping that at least one of them will hit the right target. I’d like to offer a simple way to revolutionize your prayer life, or even start one if you don’t have one. So, why not get a coffee and join me?
We see that the Scriptures are chock-full of instructions on prayer – when to pray, where to pray, how to pray, what kinds of prayer to pray – lots of meaty stuff intended to help us include God in our daily tasks as we weave our way through life. And of course we have the best example of all, Jesus, who modeled the expert pray-er at work, as He walked the path of suffering to the Cross.
But it can be so easy to get bogged down with all the ‘”oughts” and feelings of guilt, that we actually end up doing very little in this life-changing discipline.
Your Prayer Life – Getting started
So, instead of suggesting something like “10 Steps to a better prayer life or “5 Quick Ways To Answered Prayer” (all of which are very useful by the way – send me your suggestions!) I would like to offer One Super Simple Way to Revolutionize Your Prayer Life that I discovered quite by accident last year. I’ll give you some clues: if you have a tongue and a pair of feet – you qualify!
In common with most people, I found myself with more challenges than I could shake a stick at last year, and couldn’t see my way through them very easily. I also had friends and family with issues that needed prayer and I wasn’t sure I was “doing” it right – which for me meant praying in the way that I had confidence God could hear and answer.
So, in desperation last summer, I took to prayer walking. I’m not talking about throwing out a timid little, “bless this area I’m walking through now,” type of prayer, but a rip-roaring, mad-woman on the loose, type of prayer.
I took myself off to very quiet areas in the particularly beautiful part of France we were working in to storm the gates of heaven with the concerns of my heart and those of other people. (And of course, this may have included gesturing and arm-waving, as I presented my causes before the Lord – but you don’t have to. I hope no one was watching!) I became quite expert at “not worrying about anything, but praying about everything” type prayers. (Phil. 4:6)
However, as time progressed, I didn’t always know how to continue praying, so I started praying in tongues. And gradually over those weeks, the Lord started to drop some understanding in my spirit, so I was able to pray even more in English and begin to see some results*. This of course meant that for the first time, I felt I was able to pray in real confidence and have faith that I was praying in the way that God would hear and answer.
That’s not to say there weren’t some battles. Sometimes there were tears and sometimes sheer frustration, but I continued on. (It might have helped a little bit that the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Just saying.)
And then one day I woke up and heard the Lord say to take one issue that I needed breakthrough in, and pray for one hour in tongues, lifting that issue before him.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…
– Jude 1:20
That’s right. One hour. In tongues.*
OK- this was obviously a new ballgame, but I gamely pitched up. And my flesh was not impressed at all, as I would constantly be clock watching and forcing myself to open my mouth and speak, even when my throat hurt. Plus, I would feel stupid – like my tongue-talking seemed to be very limited in vocabulary, and I would often wonder was I really doing any good at all (the enemy had a field day with this one).
But then I started to hit times when my spirit and the Holy Spirit would tag team in prayer and it became an adventure. I knew I was storming the gates of heaven over issues, and I also knew that somewhere down the line, the answers would come. Prayer actually became exciting. (Yup! I wrote that. I can’t believe it either!)
I grew to love those prayer walks, and would chaff in my spirit if I couldn’t get out. One day before we left to come home, I pitched up at my chosen prayer place and realized that this was simply my happy place. Walking and talking with God. And even better, the impact in my spiritual life was huge, and I just knew I was taking new ground.
So, life continued as it had until we came home for Christmas and the winter. I had different everyday concerns and my prayer-walking took a huge hit when the sometimes not-so-glorious weather set in and I was hardly able to get out. That, and living in a small community, meant that I didn’t feel free to express myself verbally as I was out walking. I mean, how daft would that look?
So, I found another way to try to maintain the ground. I made myself a journal.
I’m not talking about a “5 Things I’m Grateful For” type of Journal (although they are very useful for getting us into the appreciation habit!). I’m talking meaty Christian discipline stuff.
I sat and thought about all the things I wanted to do in a day – Bible reading, scripture meditation, praying in tongues for an hour, reading a chapter of a Christian book, listening to a Christian podcast or programme, etc., and made a journal sheet using a Word document and simple shapes. I also added things like Today’s Thought, Action Point, Bedtime and Diet – whether it was good, bad or OK.
First off, I laminated it, and would scrub it clean so I could use it every day. But then I decided I wanted to keep it as record. Why? Because I don’t find it easy to discipline myself in the areas I want to. So I uncoiled a spiral bound notebook, printed off some pages, and put it all back together again. Ta dah! I had my own journal.
To some people, that’s crazy, but that’s ok – I love the whole pen, paper, book thing, and it brings joy to my soul. But even more seriously, I want “to do my best to present myself to God as a workman” so that I can accurately handle the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)
I don’t hit my targets every day, but I’m working at them, and sometimes there are days when I can hardly tick a box at all. The important thing is that I have a guide, something to keep me on track. And not all the things I’ve prayed about have been resolved. Yet. But I’m on my way.
So, I’ve ended up offering a few suggestions in the end: prayer-walking, praying in tongues for one hour a day, and creating your own journal. Sorry about that – I get a bit over-enthusiastic. But you get my drift. Even if you just use the One Super Simple Way To Revolutionize Your Prayer Life, you will be streets ahead of those who don’t!
*Please note: I am not suggesting that you can only get prayer results if you pray in tongues. For me, more understanding of how to pray came as I prayed in tongues, so results started to follow.