3 SIMPLE TIPS FOR DEEPENING YOUR PRAYER LIFE
I am a fairly active person. I am constantly doing something — starting new things, writing new ideas, traveling to various campuses, talking to people, giving talks, etc. It is exciting, dynamic, and fun. However, these wonderful activities can leave me feeling tired, empty, and dry if I am not careful to take care of an important priority — my prayer life.
Prayerful dependence must be a priority in every world changer’s life. In order to be a catalyst of change, you must be plugged into the power that prayer provides. The act of prayer has many benefits. Here is a list of my top ten benefits (not in a particular order):
- Prayer opens vibrant dialogue with God
- Prayer grants appropriate perspective
- Prayer delivers new ideas and thoughts
- Prayer settles your heart and mind
- Prayer fosters discipline and growth
- Prayer makes space to be honest with yourself
- Prayer helps you make sense of the world
- Prayer cultivates dependence on God
- Prayer changes your situation
- Prayer changes you
It is an awesome privilege to have the audience of a loving, powerful God. You cannot easily schedule a meeting with your senator, governor, doctor, or even local church pastor, but you can sigh a prayer and immediately be in dialogue with the only person that has true power. Simply amazing, isn’t it?
I know prayer is important, but I confess that I am not inclined to stop what I am doing and pray. It is sad, but not the end. Even if I feel busy, all the more reason I must pray. Therefore, I have rhythms of prayer in my life that are annual, monthly, and daily. Here are 3 tips on how I implement these rhythms in my life:
Tip#1: Schedule annual seasons of prayer.
Pick a specific holiday or season to fast and pray (i.e. Lent, Christmas, right after the New Year, etc.). I am trying something new and fasting (i.e. Daniel Fast) between Easter and the Day of Pentecost. I hope to gain a fresh, deeper reverence for Jesus’ resurrection and the wonder displayed at Pentecost.
Schedule a 24-hour prayer retreat in which you can be alone with your journal and Bible. I typically use this time to reflect on my year and the progress (or lack thereof) in my goals and ambitions. I just want to be alone and develop a better heart to hear His voice through scripture and circumstances. I encourage you to do the same.
Will you take a moment to schedule annual prayer times in your calendar? Consider Lent, New Year’s Day, or even your Birthday.
Tip #2: Use monthly events as prayer reminders.
My wife and I love to support various non-profits and churches. Every time that we send our monthly donation; I spend a few minutes praying for that cause or vision. It helps me broaden my prayers. I pray for future world changers. I pray for justice, for equality, and for the mission to move forward around the world.
Also, I take one of the four weekly discipleship visits that I have with an individual and set it aside for times of prayer and reflection. I reflect on the progress of our discipleship and take time to pray. This is a great way to foster a deeper prayer life in both of you.
Similarly, I meet with a Spiritual Director (mentor) once a month and he reminds me to pray about certain growth edges. All of these monthly prayers do not have to be long and drawn out, but perhaps they are 5-7 minutes long. What matters is that you are cultivating a lifestyle of prayer!
How can you use monthly events to trigger prayer in your life? Consider praying as you donate and meet with people.
Tip #3: Develop short daily habits.
In the morning, I pray through a list of requests as I make my daughter’s breakfast. I realize that it is not ideal, but it is real life. I’m typically making oatmeal, slicing fruit, packing her school bag, and praying for people. I have a note in Evernote that serves as my running list of prayer requests. I can access this note from my phone and keep it open while I am doing other things. Sometimes, I will text the person that I just prayed for so that they are encouraged.
While I am traveling, I will pray through the Daily Office. Being from the Pentecostal church, this discipline is foreign to me. I have learned much from my liturgical friends about praying written prayers. When I don’t know what to pray, I pray what is written. Then it opens my heart to pray more. Also, while commuting to different locations, I pray for my life, family, friends, and the world.
In the evening, my family will pray together. I love praying with my daughter — haha, she is a funny little girl. Just as I am falling asleep, I will pray through St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen. It has simple steps to reflect on my day and give God credit for everything. Here are the steps:
- Review your day and ask God for clarity
- Thank God for everything that happened during your day
- Pay attention to how different instances impacted your emotions
- Choose one instance from your day and pray through it
- Look forward to your next day with God
How can you integrate short daily prayer times in your life? Consider adapting the Daily Office or Daily Examen into your routine.
You can take these 3 simple ideas and integrate them into your life without trying to overhaul everything. Over time, you will become more prayerfully dependent on God! If you do not somehow integrate prayer, I believe you will become jaded, pessimistic, and/or depressed — that is not true life! Allow prayer to uphold, enrich, and humble you as you continue to change the world. Start today!