Most of our prayer for people should be anonymous. If I feel that I need to keep reminding people "I'm praying for you," it might indicate a lack of faith in my prayer and more confidence in the power of telling them that I'm praying for them.

Much of our praying and giving should be in secret. (See Matthew 6:3-4.)

2. More Silence in Your Prayer Time.

Good friends learn to enjoy silence with each other, with neither feeling the need to fill the vacuum with chatter. So with prayer.

They asked Mother Teresa, "You pray hours a day. What do you talk about all that time?" She said, "Mostly, I just listen." That was puzzling to the questioner. "You listen to God? What does He say?" She answered, "Mostly He just listens too."

I love that little story. I hardly know what it means, but there is something about it that feels right.

I confess to being troubled when I hear a brother--usually a preacher--attacking heaven with a barrage of noisy words in his prayer. He comes on like a Gatling gun, hardly pausing for breath, as though Heaven is charging him so much per minute and he wants to get in all he can before he runs out of coins.

What's the rush, I wonder.

When asked a good way to pray, I often suggest three activities: read the Scripture, talk to the Lord a while, and then sit quietly. After a bit, read some more of the Word, talk to the Lord again, and then sit in silence for a while. Repeat for as long as you are able.

1. Unceasing Prayer.

When asked how long you pray each day, you have no idea. You never stop talking to the Father.

I'm amused by polls that reveal the average Christian prays something like 45 seconds a day. "How do they know?" I wonder.

At the end of a day, would you know how many times you had spoken to a faithful friend who had been at your side all day long? Probably not.

Would you know the total of all the minutes of those conversations? Hardly.

As a third-grader walking up that West Virginia mountaintop to school each morning, I would often talk to the Lord about various subjects. However, in my childlike understanding, I would not say "amen" at the conclusion of the prayer. To do so seemed the equivalent of hanging up the phone, and the last thing I wanted to do was to cut the Lord off. I wanted Him involved in all I was doing all day long.

The Lord wants His children to grow spiritually, to become more and more like Christ. Theologians refer to this as sanctification. Paul expressed it like this: But we all...are being transformed into the same image (of Christ) from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of God (II Corinthians 3:18).

I asked a friend whom I know to be far godlier than I for her list of markers, how she knows she is more like Christ this year than last. Interestingly, my list and hers are as different as we are. And both lists are on the mark.

You will have your own list of indicators of spiritual growth in Christ.

Perhaps, though, the best indicator of all that we are growing in Christ is this: Someone brags on your godly character and you think, "Who? Me? You've got to be kidding!"

Christlikeness seems to be a lot like humility: Those who have it most are least aware of it, but only see how much further they have to go.

From what I know of the subject of Christlikeness, the process of sanctification is not finished until we stand before the Savior Himself. As John said, We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2).

The completion of sanctification goes by the name of glorification--we are changed into His likeness completely--and then something wonderful happens: we find that in Heaven, we are a perfect fit.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at with permission.

Publication date: August 23, 2011