I recently received my favorite weekly update: an email about morning routines. Being the productivity nerd that I am, I love reading through the morning routines of well-known professionals. This week I was reading one such routine and noticed that the author made a distinction between meditation and prayer.
“I pray every morning,” she said. “Prayer is not meditation, as this is an active conversation I’m having with God.” She went on to share her Bible study habits of the early morning hours, but I was still brewing on her description of prayer. Prayer is an active conversation.
If you’re like me, sometimes prayer feels less like a conversation and more like a monologue. I think we believe prayer should come naturally, and are surprised when it doesn’t. However, prayer is a spiritual discipline; it takes practice to perfect. Here are five ideas to help you strengthen your prayer life and discipline yourself to “active conversation.”
- Record requests and answers. One of the best ways to grow confidence in the Lord is to record your prayer requests—and then record His answers. I’ve used several journals for this purpose. I write the request in black and, when God answers, I write the answer in red and date it. I can flip back through these notebooks to see God’s faithfulness and be encouraged for the future!
- Make a prayer board. Our prayer board is simply a large corkboard with “prayer sections”: areas over which my husband and I want to pray. We’ve made sections for our marriage, work, finances, dreams and missions. We write requests on small pieces of paper and tack them below each section. When the prayer is answered, we move it to the section “God’s Answers.” At the end of the year, we collect the slips of paper and can see God’s faithfulness for that season! Several of my blog readers have created prayer boards of their own. You can make it as individual as you like!
- Ask for prayer requests from others. Add more interest to your prayer life by asking your friends for prayer requests. Touch base with them periodically to see how those prayers were answered. Seeing God work in the lives of friends and family is another great way to connect with His heart for the world.
- Pray for a nation, missionary or organization you’re passionate about. Do you sponsor a Compassion child? Have a passion for the nation of Rwanda? You can put that passion to use by praying fervently for the places and organizations you love. Even when we can’t give money or time to a cause, prayer actively engages the Spirit of God on behalf of those we pray for. Intercede for them regularly or create a weekly “schedule” of places and organizations for which you want to pray.
- Pray the Word. If you struggle to find the words to pray, open your Bible! Pray God’s truth to Him. These promises are yours in Christ! Many of the passages in Psalms are actually prayers. You can read these to the Lord and allow the truths of Scripture to sink into your heart while you do.