(We continue with four helps for making prayer stick. The first is in last week's blog.)
Feed Faith. As I noted, when people are taught about prayer they respond. By His Spirit, God has given us a taste for fellowship with Him. So when we are taught about prayer it delights our souls. The thing is, just like we need to keep feeding our bodies, we need to keep feeding our faith about prayer. It’s okay to need renewal. I wrote a 32-page booklet on prayer that is basically a primer on prayer. It gives a broad overview of the Bible’s teaching about prayer and gets into the practice of prayer. But one of the biggest takeaways is seeing how God has ordained our prayers as His means for His ends. Whenever I teach using the booklet that truth not only instructs, it motivates. People get excited.
That’s the way it works with helping our praying to stick. We need to keep feeding our faith. All of us need that constant reminding. I recently came across a 1896 edition of Andrew Murray’s book, Lord, Teach Us to Pray, and slowly read all 32 pages of it. It was like a box of chocolates, filled with savory morsels. His constant examination and exhortation got me all worked up to pray. We need that constant appeal to God’s Word about prayer, no matter how much we know or how long we’ve been at it.
Use Props. God knows we are taciturn. When my kids would come home from high school, we would ask them about their day. “Fine” would be the answer more often than not. The school could have burned down but we wouldn’t know it from them. We can be like that with God, partly because of the effort we’d have to make to talk it out with Him and partly because we are oblivious to life around us.
God has given us some ways to help us to open up to Him. Certainly, in times of trial we are more inclined to reach out to Him, but there are ways God gives for conversation with Him in regular life. Let me mention three.
One, the model prayer Jesus gives us includes asking for daily bread. That suggests all the areas mentioned are in view for the disciple who is to take up his or her cross daily. We want a well-balanced prayer repertoire. Two, God gives us prayers in the event we can’t find words of our own. The psalms cover the gamut of life, in communion with God. We can use their words directly or as a template or as prayer prompts. Three, God gives us community. When we get together with others to pray, prayer has to happen. It is a special blessing to be led in prayer by others. We also want to look to bless others by our prayers.
Pray to Pray. If we are to look to God to help us in need, and one of those needs is to be more devoted to prayer, then we need to pray to pray. Just as we ask God to open our eyes so that we might behold wonderful things in His law, so we can ask Him to open our lips so that we might declare the glory of His name. Ask the Spirit to tutor you in prayer.
In the prophecy of Zechariah, God talks about pouring out a spirit of grace and supplication. That suggests that God gives freely the help needed to pray. When Jesus taught on prayer in Luke 11, He says our Heavenly Father will not refuse to give us the Holy Spirit if we ask Him. That’s great because we need divine aid to pray as we should.
I suppose that we can get into a prayer habit, where we train ourselves to pray as a reflex. However, considering how distractible we are and how difficult it is to do what we know is good for us, it seems to me that we will always need to keep our head in the game. Getting prayer to stick is probably better put that we should stick to getting prayer.
Digging Deeper: Identify one specific thing you can implement for each of the four areas listed in these two blogs.
Lord Jesus, disciple me to pray.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.