How Do I Grow and Cultivate My Prayer Life?
- Sarah Frazer Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 4 Jun
According to Oswald Chambers, prayer is the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts.
Have you ever held your breath underwater? It’s easy when you know you can come up for air anytime. In life, however, I don’t really like the feeling of holding my breath.
When you don’t pray, it’s actually like cutting yourself off from a necessity. It’s like holding your breath. Let’s look at what the Bible says about prayer, and some suggestions on how prayer can enrich your life.
What is prayer?
Prayer means to: “ask, beseech, plea, petition, request, appeal, call, implore, or intercede.” Prayer is conversation with God. It is both an act and an attitude. We lift our voices to God, whether at church, in our homes, or even while driving.
We praise Him, thank Him, ask of Him, and simply talk to Him (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). But prayer is more than requesting things from God. It is about developing a relationship with Him.
Prayer is both communication and connection with God. There are over 100 references to prayer in the Bible. The Book of Psalms has the most references, but Genesis is a close second. All throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God commands His people to pray—and they do.
Here are few things God says about prayer in the Bible:
We can pray in any circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:6-7). Are you going through a trial? Pray. Does life feel burdensome with fears, doubts, worry, or grief? Pray. He is near to those who pray (Psalm 145:18).
Often when we pray, we can feel God’s presence. Sometimes we may feel nothing. But scripture assures us that God always hears our prayers (Psalm 18:6; 1 John 5:14). Directing our minds and hearts through prayer to who He is, can remind us of His promises and help us feel His presence throughout our days.
God does not reject the prayers of His people. (Zechariah 10:6; Acts 2:21; Psalm 143:1) Although our prayers may go unanswered and we might feel the sting of the silence of God, we can trust His word when it says He will intervene for His people. God’s redemption is a promise we can cling to while we pray.
Why should I pray?
Prayer is likely one of the Christian disciplines you want to commit to more; but doubt lingers: is God really listening?
Don’t compare God to the people in our lives. He’s not the boss who never listens to our ideas. Or the husband, wife, or friend who just nods in distraction as you explain a deep hurt. Prayer is not trying to get God’s attention. We have it. God’s ear is already bent towards us.
Embrace the truth that you pray because God has commanded you to pray, and because you believe in the power of prayer.
What about unanswered prayers?
Everyone experiences times of fervent prayer when God seems silent. How do you reconcile times when God feels absent with the fact that you should keep praying? You may naturally wonder: Is God good (to me)?
Scripture calls you to pray with faith (James 1:5-8; 1 John 5:14-15). Yet, we are also promised trouble in this world (John 16:33). In every trauma, tragedy, and trial, you can lean on this truth: God is working all things for good (Romans 8:28) in every ‘no’ and ‘yes.’
As we pray, we have faith in who God is, not in His ability to say yes. Prayer anchored in faith means we will be content, not in God’s answer, but in God Himself. Sometimes it isn’t about the answer to prayer; it is about what will give God glory. Although a hard truth; you must cling to the promises of God found in these verses:
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. – Psalm 145:9
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him – Nahum 1:7
How do I start and grow my prayer life?
The key is to do what is best for you. There is no right or wrong way, but I’ve found these things are good to remember when trying to cultivate a prayer life:
Set up an undistracted time.
If I try to pray while my children are awake, I will not be able to even think about the words I’m thinking or saying. Either I get up early, or go to a quiet place. Either way I pick a time that I won’t have many outside distractions. Read one or two verses in the Bible. Whisper a prayer to God to help clear your mind of distractions. Praise God for who He is (kind, loving, gracious, merciful, etc.).
Write your prayers.
Get a pen and notebook that you like. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can even get my prayer notebook here. I’ve found that if I am busy writing out the words I want to pray, I focus well. Writing out prayers doesn’t have to be complicated. Just get a piece of paper and a pencil and start writing! Treat it like a letter, and begin with “Dear God.” Write out names of people you would like to pray for.
Find a prayer partner.
Developing a prayer life will be much more successful if we reach out to someone we know and ask them to keep us accountable when it comes to prayer! I have prayer partners. Do you?
Here are some examples of prayers you can use in your own prayer life, or adapt to your own style and needs:
A Prayer for Wisdom
Today, O Lord, I pray for wisdom. James 1:5 says if I ask for wisdom, you will grant it. Give me wisdom and discernment in my day. There will be people in my path today who will test my patience and create strife. Help me to respond in wisdom and with kindness. Other people will come to me today asking for help. Grant me the knowledge to know how to respond and the best way to give them advice. O giver of wisdom: give me what I need for today. Amen.
A Prayer for Strength
Dear Heavenly Father, grant me the strength you promised in Psalm 105:4. I am weary and worn from the world and the demands of those around me. Although I cannot go back to bed, I pray for the strength to do. Let me not forget you have given me this day and you will grant me the strength to get done what you would have me do. Amen.
A Prayer for Relief from Loneliness
Jesus, help me to remember that nothing can separate You from me. I might feel alone, but my feelings are not the boss of me. Help me trust You in this season of loneliness. I can fear that I have been forgotten. But you have not forgotten me, according to Romans 8:35-38. Let me trust in the promises of your word today. Amen.
Cultivating a prayer life isn’t easy. It will (and has) taken time to keep going. But it is worth it. One of my favorite devotional writers, Oswald Chambers, says “Prayer does not fit us for the great works; prayer is the great work.”
Don’t hold your breath. Instead, pray.
Sarah E. Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor at sarahefrazer.com. She is the wife of Jason and mother of five. Although she serves in her local church, holds in-home Bible studies, and is preparing to be a full-time missionary to Honduras, her passion is to encourage women to get in the Bible. Sarah is also an author of three self-published Bible studies for women. She share tools for deep-rooted Bible study at sarahefrazer.com. Download her free prayer challenge at sarahefrazer.com/prayer
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