- September 18, 2017
- Christian Living
For some people, prayer comes as naturally as breathing. No matter what trials they are going through or victories they are reveling in, they are both quick to pray and know just what to say. The rest of us need a refresher course from time to time. Whether you are a new believer or a lifelong churchgoer who needs to step up your prayer life, we’ve put together seven ways for you to enjoy effective prayer today. See the areas in which you’re already experiencing victory and where you can still improve or explore.
Pray Throughout the Day
When we talk about enjoying effective prayer, it usually doesn’t take very long for three little words from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to be brought up. “Pray without ceasing.” While there is a lot that can be unpacked there, let’s take it at face value for now. This phrase pops up in the middle of a long list of commands to the early church, specifically the church that had been planted in Thessalonica. This section of the book is intended to promote both unity and spiritual development. Each instruction that is given is a reminder to focus on the Lord rather than petty differences or human desires. Not only are we to focus on the Lord, but our actions should match this Godly mindset.
One of the best ways to stay in a spiritual frame of mind throughout the day is to regularly be in prayer. Another phrasing of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is “pray continually.” This gets more to the point as we can imagine that Paul was not telling the church to literally be praying every second of every day. Sometimes we think of prayer as something we only do before meals, at church, and/or with our daily devotions. There’s no reason why we can’t take part in prayer throughout the day, though. To engage in effective prayer, we should be praying continually as needs arise or as blessings unfold.
Effective Prayer Means Thinking Bigger Than Yourself
Do you ever feel like your prayers are just a laundry list of personal wants and needs? There’s nothing wrong with bringing your personal struggles and fears to good. In fact, it’s encouraged throughout scripture. On the other hand, there are so many other issues going on around us that sometimes it might feel a little selfish to only pray for the things we see right in front of us. Don’t ever feel that you have to hide your own fears in order to focus on the global scale, but we should try to broaden the impact of our time with the Lord.
There are a few ways to prayer on a bigger scale, some of which we’ll discuss here in a moment, but it generally starts with praying for your church, your coworkers, your local and national government, people in other countries and so on. No man is an island, as they say, so many decisions and events that you would consider innocuous may have an impact on your life later on. Just because the people you see hurting on TV don’t speak the same language as you or live in the same city doesn’t mean that they are any less important to the kingdom of God.
Ask Friends How You Can Be Praying for Them
The first step to broadening the impact of your prayer life is to listen to the situations your friends and family are dealing with and pray on their behalf. If the situation needs more clarity and you are close enough with the person, ask if there are any specific needs for which you can pray. You might even be able to help them with some kind of material need that is related. There are other benefits to sharing prayer needs with these people as well. By discussing personal issues with a spiritual focus, you can forge stronger relationships that have God at the center. Community is a deeply-rooted spiritual advantage that the early church took part in. The old saying in Mark 3:25, later used by Abraham Lincoln, is that “a house divided against itself shall not stand.” By coming together through effective prayer, your family, group of friends, church, etc. will be able to enjoy a stronger bond that can stand the test of time.
Pray for Your Enemies
Here’s the one that’s going to leave a bruise. It’s easy for us to pray for our own needs or those of our closest friends and family. You’re talking about something completely different when it comes to praying for your enemies. Matthew 5:44 tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. God knows how difficult that can be, as Jesus prayed for his own executioners. Do you have a person in your life who seems to be on a mission to ruin your day? What about a neighbor who nitpicks everything about your home or gossips to the rest of the subdivision about your personal life? It can be hard to pray for people like that, but not any more so than Christ asking for God to forgive the people who murdered Him on a cross.
Praying for our enemies shuts the door of hatred and self-pity and opens a new pathway to love and understanding. You can’t help but care for people when you pray for them, so it’s a good practice for tough job situations with a coworker/boss you don’t get along with or for simply dealing with the hyper-political world we live in. Effective prayer comes from seeking the will of God rather than only looking after our own interests.
Pray Scripture Back to God
When you come across a passage of scripture where God delivers on His promises, don’t you just want to claim a little piece of that victory? As we look in the Bible for wisdom and direction, we often find the exact words to address our very need. When life feels overwhelming and we barely have the strength to stand, the words from Psalms contain David’s cries to God that sound much like our own. When we need restoration, we encounter the many stories of faith and healing in the ministry of Jesus and we want to sign our name right next to the words of those who are in desperate need.
As we read God’s word, we should have the ability to read these words back to Him as a way of saying “I know that You are able to help me because I see the work of Your hands right here.” We don’t have the Bible simply as a means to understand our own place in the world, but to get a full picture of who God is. When we incorporate scripture into our time with God, we are truly seeking to have more effective prayer.
Adopt Prayer Causes
When writing down the needs of your friends, family, and others in your prayer journal, you’ll be able to track the progress of each one. You may find over time that one specific prayer request has become a personal passion project. It might be someone whose marriage is on the rocks or a lost person that you would love to see come to Christ. Some prayer causes go on for decades before they are answered, but many will take significantly less time to be resolved.
On top of these needs with which you have a personal connection, you may also find yourself invested in certain issues that have national or global implications. One example would be the issue of homelessness. You might pray for, donate to, or volunteer with the organization in your area that is seeking to help those who are homeless. Another big topic is human trafficking. Likewise you might pray for those who are working to end this barbaric practice and get involved in one form or another. Whatever causes you naturally gravitate toward, the idea of adopting said issues is to have a personal stake in the matter and be praying for God’s divine intervention.
Establish a Prayer Closet
This idea for effective prayer was made famous by the 2015 film “War Room,” but the practice has been around for much longer. “Why can’t I pray wherever I want?” You certainly can and we encourage you to pray wherever you are throughout the day. The idea of a prayer closet is more about being physically alone so that you can focus 100% on the Lord. Within this room, closet, or corner you can keep scripture or anything else you need to help your prayer time. If you have the means to carve out this place of seclusion, it can be a wonderful addition to your prayer life.
These are seven different ways for you to reinvigorate your prayer life and start fresh in your time with the Lord. We all need a little help when it comes to effective prayer. There are likely a few dozen methods one could use to improve how they pray, but these seven provide a starting point for taking that next step. At the K-LOVE Fan Awards, we want to shine a light on the things that are pushing us closer to the Lord and making an impact on our lives. We often find that Christian entertainment in the form of movies, music, and more can help us along in our relationships through one way or another. Each year we celebrate the artists, athletes, filmmakers, and authors who are leaving their mark on the Christian community. Find out how your family can be a part of the ultimate fan experience by clicking on the link below.