Prayer life is literally our lifeline and we know it, yet we struggle to make it happen.
Be encouraged with these 6 ways to grow in prayer.
I was so excited. I had finished enough of my work for the day so that I didn’t feel guilty taking some extra time to relax that night. So I took a long, hot shower and started the process of making French press coffee while I massaged lotion onto my skin and applied a luxurious face mask.
Then, in the throes of self-pampering, I made a terrible decision. I whipped out my teeth whitening strips and applied those too! Remember why this might be a problem? Just then, I smelled my beautiful, steaming cup of smooth dark roast coffee, and the folly of my actions crashed into my consciousness like a mother of five running late to a birthday party.
So did I waste the coffee or the whitening strips? Well, what would you do?? Of course, I chastised myself first, but then off came the whitening strips in favor of that tantalizing bean water. I wanted my coffee so much that I did whatever it took to make sure I got to drink it.
Though I have great zeal for my coffee, I rarely find myself having that same desire for prayer—which, when you think about it, is really sobering. I often value my caffeine pick-me-up more than a conversation with my Heavenly Father. If you identify with this, don’t be discouraged! Let’s talk about how we can grow our thirst for prayer!
6 Tips to Growing Your Prayer Life
1. Get to know your God.
Just like it’s really hard to talk to someone you don’t know very well, it is really hard to pray to a God you don’t know very well either! How are you supposed to know what to say if you don’t know who He is? Why would you come to Him with your burdens if you aren’t sure whether or not He even cares?
If you don’t know how perfectly just and mighty He is, you won’t talk to Him about how your heart hurts at the injustice around you. If you don’t know how deeply compassionate God is, you won’t tell Him about the tiny details in your life that are taking up huge spaces in your mind. Just as you cannot trust someone you do not know, you will not trust a God you do not know.
Prayer is a conversation with the almighty God of the universe, but that almighty God is also our Father! Remember this as you pray—He wants to hear your heart.
Studying the names of God is a wonderful way to refresh your prayer life with all that God is. Our #NotConsumed Prayer Journal has a section entirely dedicated to exploring the names of God!
2. Learn how to pray.
It’s a pretty universal principle that you have to know how to do something before you can do it! The same thing goes for your prayer life—you can’t pray if you don’t understand prayer and how it works. So check out prayers in the Bible and learn what goes into prayer! Then, take it one step further and pray through these passages of Scripture.
Here are some prayers to get you started:
- Psalm 16—when you feel unsteady or discouraged
- Psalm 51—when you are broken over sin
- Psalm 103—when you want to praise the Lord
- Matthew 6:9–15—when you need to remember how to pray
As you read through these prayers, personalize them and make them yours. Put yourself in the place of the Psalmist. Use the model Jesus Himself gave! Ask the Lord for forgiveness for your sins and to provide for your needs.
More of these powerful prayers are listed in our #NotConsumed Prayer Journal!
3. Make your prayer life a habit.
So often, we don’t pray because we don’t have time! In the busyness of a day where there are things we definitely do have scheduled, we fail to schedule a time to pray. So even if it’s not pretty, set an alarm, write sticky notes, or do whatever it takes to remind yourself when it is time to pray. This INTENTIONAL step will help you make it a daily habit.
Another thing that has really worked for me is to link the habit of prayer with other daily habits. For example, every morning in the shower, I pray for the day ahead (my kids, the schedule, whatever might be happening). Every time I brush my teeth, I pray for my kids’ future spouses.
Can prayers be that short? Yes! You don’t have to sit down at 5 am and pray for two hours before everyone else in your house gets up. Nope! Just take 10 minutes! Or take an hour if you have it! The goal is to focus on a conversation with your God. This helps you establish a right mindset towards honoring God in the day ahead of you.
Maybe you are one of those people (like myself) who can barely form a grunt in the morning, let alone have a conversation. Then schedule a prayer time for mid-morning, afternoon, or evening! The point is to have time that you know is for prayer. As you set aside time for your prayer life, you will realize that your mind will begin to naturally drift into that prayer conversation at different times throughout the day when you realize you need God’s special help or wisdom.
4. Write out your prayers.
Words might not be your thing, but you don’t need to be a New York Times bestselling author to write down your prayers! They aren’t for anyone to see except you and God.
The big reason this exercise is important is that it helps you slow down and stay on task rather than jumping from one thing to another constantly. Yes, multitasking is a wonderful skill to have, but you don’t want to be utilizing it in your prayer life! When you pray, be there, sitting still, peacefully talking with your Father.
Sometimes you might feel so overcome by a situation that you feel like you can’t be still enough to pray. The physical act of writing out what is keeping you from having peace and then committing it to the Lord can help you mentally release your cares and worries to your God.
5. Speak your prayers aloud.
A healthy prayer life is lived out loud! The Psalmist says in Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” There are times to pray silently in your heart, but there are also times to praise the Lord where others can hear you!
Praise the Lord with your lips in thankfulness and also so others will hear and be encouraged by God’s faithfulness. Don’t worry about getting it all right or saying things perfectly. Just pour out your heart to God.
Praying out loud is also a wonderful way to teach others how to pray, whether it is your close friend who just poured out her heart to you, young children in Sunday school, or someone you are discipling. Hearing others pray is how we learn to be comfortable with praying out loud ourselves!
But praying out loud doesn’t have to be something you reserve for public. Just like writing out your prayers, praying aloud will help you stay focused and remember what you are doing. Trust me, I use this trick all the time (especially in the shower!) so my mind doesn’t wander to other places.
6. Keep a list or prayer journal.
I have a love-hate relationship with lists. On the one hand, writing down a list can really help me organize my thoughts and prioritize what I have to do—but sometimes, seeing the physical list of all the things that were previously just nebulous concepts floating around in my head can be incredibly overwhelming.
Prayer lists can also be really overwhelming, but with some strategy and organization, you can make them work for you instead of being enslaved to them yourself. Divide your prayer list into categories like family, friends, coworkers, and missionaries, and then pray through a category every day. If your categories are too big, assign certain people and situations you’re praying for to each day. This way, you can work through that day’s list and know that you have prayed for everyone you needed to that day and not worry that you missed anyone.
Another super helpful idea is keeping a running prayer list on your phone for prayer requests you hear throughout the day. Then, when you’re back to your prayer list, you can add those requests in and actually pray for the people you promised to pray for!
Prayer journals can help you stay even more organized and intentional with your prayer life. They often include sections or categories to organize your requests and even space to write out your prayers like we mentioned earlier!
You can check out our beautiful #NotConsumed Prayer Journal here!
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.