Prayer is a vital part of our walk as Christ followers. It is our lifeline with Abba Father as well as a powerful weapon of warfare. We may have heard prayer described simply as a conversation with God but it can easily become an overwhelming idea, or an imitation of what we’ve seen others do. Here are a few tips and scriptures to help you if you’re feeling stuck or just starting out in your journey.
Understanding personal prayer
Personal prayer can be conversational. What we can often forget though, is that a conversation is better when both parties get to share and listen. The more we are able to spend time in prayer and position ourselves to hear from God too, we strengthen our relationship with Him and become acquainted with the ways in which He speaks to us personally. Prayer builds and flows out of intimacy; sharing the depths of our heart with God, but also allowing Him to share His heart with us.
Prayer also flows out of our identity; meaning when we know who we are in Christ – the access and authority we have, we can pray with boldness and confidence according to God’s Will. This means spending time reading the word is important.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need – Hebrews 4:16 nkjv
...in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him [that is, our faith gives us sufficient courage to freely and openly approach God through Christ] – Ephesians 3:12 amp
It’s important to begin to build a habit of prayer – being mindful to speak to God in the morning/evening, as well as listening throughout the day. As we build this habit of regular check-ins with God, personal prayer becomes a lifestyle and we can begin to grow in different types and depths of prayer.
Two important keys for prayer are being:
Spirit filled: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will - Romans 8:26-27 nlt
Leaning on the Spirit of God to actually help us and lead us in prayer makes our time with Him much more fruitful. He knows what we ought to pray, He helps us when words won’t form. When you don’t know what or how to pray – ask for help.
Faith filled: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind – James 1:5-6 nlt
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him – Hebrews 11:6 nlt
An important key in prayer is faith. We must believe that God hears us (Psalm 116:2), we must believe that we can hear Him (John 10:27) and that He delights in answering us as we pray according to His Will. If you’re struggling with doubt – turn it into a prayer point! Ask the Lord to answer in way that makes His voice undeniable.
Tips for your prayer time:
Sharing honestly – Abba cannot help us if we will not be honest with Him. He can’t heal us in our pretending or hiding, only in our bringing things into His light, surrendering, exposing, and telling Him the whole story. Even in a child-like manner, telling God honestly that we don’t know what to pray, or sharing the feelings of not wanting to pray will allow Him to speak to our heart and help us to do His Will in that moment.
The Psalms are also littered with moments where David “pours out his complaint” to God – sharing honestly all of his feelings and questions with God – this is a good book to read and pray through.
Emptying & Filling – In addition to sharing honestly, share until you are empty. Release everything on your heart and allow Abba to pour in. It may be that you hear His voice inwardly, it may be a picture, scripture that you’re led to read and meditate on, a song you’re led to sing – or simply sitting still and resting in His presence. Anything can happen in that place – we are gifted with a unique way of knowing Him, just having time in prayer and being aware of His presence is the main thing. The key – and probably the most difficult part, is staying in that place until you’re full. Staying until your mind is clear, your joy and peace restored, strength renewed and you know what your next step of that day is. This is something to fight for when the busyness of our daily responsibilities and worldly distractions are all vying for our attention, but His Grace is sufficient.
If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water - John 7:37-38 ampc
A listening heart – As mentioned before, positioning our heart to hear God is part of building intimacy. Practically this can be as simple as taking 5 minutes in the bathroom to check in with Him, or turning your thoughts to Him as you do your housework, gardening, daily jog etc. Turning your thoughts to Him regularly throughout the day is positioning your heart to be sensitive to hearing Him – this kind of listening prayer is one of the ways we pray without ceasing.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 nkjv
A listening heart is developed also in simply sitting quietly before the Lord - entering into a place of prayer with no agenda other than to be present with Him. We learn His Voice and grow in sensitivity to His heartbeat with this kind of prayer.
And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice. When Elijah heard the voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave – 1 Kings 19:11-13 ampc emphasis added.
Requests & Thanksgiving – Remember to share both requests and thanksgiving. When things are tough it’s easy to lean more towards requests, but we are also called to give God thanks in all things. He can work even the most difficult circumstances for our good.
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours] – Philippians 4:6-7amp
Everything & Anywhere – Finally, remember than prayer is not always this formal thing we do. Yes there are times in prayer where we are serious, vulnerable, repentant and more, but there are also many moments for simply sharing the simple things, the little things, the funny things with God. Prayer can be about anything and everything, and prayer can happen anywhere and everywhere, from the park, to the shower, to the train you take everyday. Just go with the flow – talking to God the same way you would your best friend!
Hoping this blog has been helpful for your journey of growing in prayer - why not share with a friend? :)