Four Ways to Ignite Your Prayer Life
If you’re like me, there’s room for improvement. I want to develop a lifestyle of prayer where I naturally worship, give thanks, and petition God throughout the day. How can we ignite our prayer life and move in a stronger direction? Here are four suggestions:
Try Some Different Approaches to Prayer
We sometimes need to shake up our usual approach to prayer to revitalize it. In her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Can Transform Us, Adele Calhoun describes several approaches to prayer that you might find helpful for reinvigorating your prayer life (I have included some of her ideas in my list below).
- Breath Prayer – Pray a simple prayer throughout the day (e.g. “In you, Lord, I put my trust”).
- Centering Prayer – Focus on a word like “love,” “grace,” or a term like “the Good Shepherd,” and make it your prayerful focus.
- Conversational Prayer – Engage in a conversation with God throughout the day about things that come up. He is with you, so the key is to be aware of His presence and to engage with Him in a meaningful way as you go about your day.
- Daily Offices – Set up prayer times in your daily schedule that help you refocus on God (e.g. I sometimes use an alarm app to remind me to pray at set times).
- Fasting – Give up something (e.g. food, technology, an activity), so you can focus on God more fully (see Three Biblical Reasons to Fast).
- Inner-healing Prayer – Bring your hurts to the Lord one at a time. Ask Him what He wants to do about the hurt and then trust Him to do what He says. If He asks you to take some steps, respond in obedience.
- Intercessory Prayer – Pray for those who are close to you and others whom God puts on your heart (sometimes it’s helpful to use prayer lists that correspond to groups of people in our lives).
- Listening Prayer – Ask God about an issue or question you are facing and wait for Him to speak into it through Scripture and other means. I will often record what I think He may be saying and then prayerfully reflect on my impressions over time while testing them against Scripture and the wise counsel of others.
- Liturgical Prayer – Use prayers that others have carefully crafted and that have been proven over time (e.g. Book of Common Prayer).
- Praise and Thanksgiving – Set up times and spaces where you praise God for who He is and what He has done (e.g. making your shower time a time to thank God for the many blessings He has “showered” upon you).
- Prayer Partners/Groups – Find someone or a group of people with a similar interest and pray together (e.g. parents getting together to pray for the school where their kids attend).
- Praying Scripture – We can pray in response to the Scriptures we are reading, which turns our time in the Word into more of a conversation with God. We can also purposefully pray specific Scriptures over people (e.g. “Lord, I pray that my children would be filled with your Holy Spirit today. Help them to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow you. Amen.”).
- Prayer Walks – We can claim people and places for Christ as we walk (e.g. I will sometimes walk around the campus at Trinity Western University and pray that God would move powerfully in the classrooms, dorms, and other spaces that I pass on my walk).
- Retreats – Go on a prayer retreat where you can spend an extended time with God in prayer (see Five Reasons for Going on a Prayer Retreat).
Keep Track of Answered Prayers
It’s inspiring to remember God’s answers to prayer. As we record His answers and periodically reflect on His provision, our faith grows, and we are encouraged to pray even more.
Understand Your Worship Languages
In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas describes nine ways that people typically worship and experience God (see What are Your Primary Worship Languages? for a description of these sacred pathways). Identifying our primary worship languages helps us to engage in prayer practices and find spaces that foster intimacy with God.
Live by Faith
Our family jokingly remembers how our wild taxi rides while living in Thailand contributed to a much stronger prayer life! Every time we leave our comfort zone (whether it’s our choice or not), we have an opportunity to trust God more.
As a young leader, I was deeply impacted by a line in a worship song that said, “I’m in over my head for the Lord, but that’s okay.”
Over the years, I have felt like God has regularly led me into roles and opportunities (and allowed me to face challenges) that are way over my head. However, as I go deeper in trusting God (which usually takes me a while), I experience His peace and know that everything will be okay.
I appreciate how Craig Dykstra describes the potential of spiritual practices like prayer. “Practices are the nuclear reactors of the Christian faith, arenas where the gospel and human life come together in energizing, even explosive ways. Practices create openings in our lives where the grace, mercy and presence of God may be made known to us.”
Randy Wollf is the Director of MinistryLift and Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary. Randy has identified prayer saturation as one of 11 essential elements of discipleship. You can gauge the discipleship health of your church with this online assessment.