This is the second blog post in a series on Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living. For context on this series and it’s purpose, go here. If you have any questions based on this, please get in contact with us via our Contact page.
If you’ve been around church or Christians, you probably know that at its most basic definition, prayer is about talking to God. You also probably know that every Christian seems to have a different way to pray!
And sometimes, really, prayer can be hard (even though we know we should do it)…
A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God.
Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the centre is like making conversation the centre of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another. Consequently, prayer is not the centre of this book. Getting to know a person, God, is the centre. (Paul Miller, A Praying Life, p.26)
When we think too much about how to pray, like Paul Miller pointed out, we can overthink it and get frozen. It is best to focus on who we’re talking to: God. Why wouldn’t we want to talk to him since we have the privilege to be allowed to do this!? Prayer is important for Christians: if you had a friend that you never ever talked to, and you never wanted to talk to them…I mean, is there really any relationship there? The relationship between us and God has been fixed by Jesus, so we should want to talk to him and grow that relationship!
The Bible also gives us some other reasons why we should do this!
We are commanded to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6)
Praying recognises who God is
Praying shows our dependence on God and trust for him
We can have confidence God will answer our prayers!
What should you pray for?
I think one of the other reasons we struggle in praying is that we don’t know what to pray for. It can be easy to quickly pray for a friend, or for something we want God to do for us- but then we can get stuck. But the truth is, if God is in control of everything, there is nothing that we can’t pray about!
When was the last time you confessed your sin to God during prayer? Or you praised him for who he is and thanked him for what he has done for you? When was the last time you prayed for a not yet Christian friend, or for a Christian friend’s spiritual growth? When have you prayed for your church leaders or our country’s leaders? Or for local or international missionaries, for persecuted Christians, for your uni?
If you keep thinking, you will never run out of things to pray about. I used to challenge myself (when I had about a 40 minute drive to work) to spend the whole trip thinking of things I was thankful to God for and praying those. And I never once had to give up because I ran out of things to pray for!
How can you spice up your prayer life?
If things are hard, or you just want to change it up so you can pray more or try something different you’ve never done before, here are some suggestions from students and staff on campus:
Think about praying in different places or postures: walking, at the beach, while driving (with your eyes OPEN), kneeling, standing, looking up, with your arms raised,
Try praying out loud! This can often be quite different to praying in your own head, and can help you focus more
Try prayer journaling: there are two ways to do this- some people write down prayer points in a journal and pray through these, some people write out their entire prayer in their journal. Either way, this has the benefit that you can look back later and see how God has been answering your prayers!
Read some prayers that other people have used- if your denomination has a prayer book look through this, and see what they thought was important to pray about. Is this reflected in your own life? Or find some prayers from another denomination, like the Puritans!
Pray Bible verses- there are lots of prayers included in the Bible! (Check out Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Jonah 2:1-9, Jeremiah 32:17-25, Habakkuk 1:1-5, Psalms 3, 10, 25, 33, 43, 51, 85 and 106, Matthew 6:9-13, John 17:1-26, Romans 15:14-33, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-14, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12) These passages are just a start. There are so many examples of people in the Bible talking to God in many different circumstances and situations, that can help us no matter what we’re going through!
Use physical prayer cards or virtual prayer cards through an app like Prayermate to prompt you on what to pray for
Be reminded to pray randomly throughout the day using an app like Prayer Popper!
Read a book on prayer (check out this one here)
If you have any other suggestions, put them in the comments below. But don’t wait, start praying right now! There’s nothing stopping you!
Based on a workshop series presented in 2021 called ‘Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living’. By Lauren B.