I know that prayer is important in one’s walk with The Lord, and I know there is power in prayer, and I know that God hears me when I pray; but why, for Pete’s sake, is it so hard to pray? Why is it easy to get distracted while praying? What does one do to win in the area of prayer?
The tools I have mentioned below are ways that have helped me push through in the area of prayer and tarry for an answer and to grow in my relationship with The Lord.
1.) Recognize that we do have an enemy who is hell-bent on destroying the power we have access to through prayer.
A praying Christian is a powerful Christian.
James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
I was listening to a teaching on prayer by a friend and mentor of mine, and she had us participate in an exercise. She had us hold our breath for five seconds and then asked us how difficult it was to go without breathing for an extended period of time. She equated our physical breath to our spiritual breath: prayer. Just as if you were to hold your breath for an extended period of time and you would pass out, so you would also pass out if you hold your prayer breath too long.
When we read the creation story in Genesis, we see that man was created in the image of God. God breathed His breath…HIS breath…into Adam after He formed them from the dust of the earth.
If it is His breath that is coursing through our lungs, it’s no wonder prayer is so powerful when prayed according to God’s Word—because just like creation, it is His breath being breathed into the situation at hand.
2.) Remove distractions
This has probably been the biggest obstacle for me in my walk with the Lord. I seem to think that I need to have my phone with me wherever I go because the moment that I don’t, something will happen and no one will be able to get ahold of me. It provides an opportunity for distraction because when I get a text, I respond. From that response, I visit facebook, twitter, and Instagram and the next thing I know is that it’s 45 minutes later and I’ve accomplished nothing.
This is my second day of getting up an hour(ish) earlier in the mornings to spend time in prayer. It has helped in the area of distraction because I know that the people I talk to on a daily basis are not up yet.
Maybe you need to designate a spot to go to pray. Our house is small, and we don’t have an extra room that is climate controlled. It’s based on the temperature outside. We have an AC window unit up there, and I could take a heater if cold, but in both temperatures, it takes awhile to cool down or heat up. So I sit on the floor in front of our heater and spend time with The Lord.
3.) Be intentional
Honestly though, what it all boils down to is this: do you really want to grow? Are you willing to be diligent and intentional about setting aside time to pray and deepen your relationship with the Lord?
As with anything, you will only receive what you put in. When we seek God’s face we can expect to become more like Him as He pours into us through prayer. When we seek His face we can expect to receive answers and wisdom.
I have the speaking part down pat, but I don’t have the listening mastered. The Lord has been convicting me to enter into a time of silence to listen to Him. Silence is a discipline that we should practice as Christians. As we walk through that discipline, our minds will learn to be silenced and we are better able to hear what He is saying to us. Be intentional about listening and speaking: not just speaking when praying, but speaking when you’re spoken to about that situation.
Journal your prayers. Keep track of what you have prayed and how and when God came through in that area. Sometimes it helps to encourage us when we have tangible evidence of God moving in a situation.
I write all of my prayers out in a notebook. It wasn’t until my husband and I had gone through a season of transition that I was convicted to go back and see what God had answered. At least 10 prayers were answered in one week during this season. It was an encouragement to me because it was tangible evidence that God heard the cry of my heart.
Sometimes my prayer morning looks like drawing a picture. You’ve heard of bible journaling, correct? That is what I am referring to, except I will journal in a notebook so that I have more room to be creative. Sometimes putting a picture of what is going through your mind with a promise from God’s Word, helps you verbally speak what needs to be spoken in prayer.
5.) Don’t make it complicated
I used to make cultivating a prayer life difficult. I had to have the right notebook with the right tabs. I had to have a prayer closet that I could make mine. I had to go through all of these religious rituals in order to succeed in prayer.
Your prayer life is your prayer life. As long as you are cultivating a relationship with Him through prayer and reading His Word, there is not a specific way you have to do it to make God hear you better. His hearing is just fine.
Like I mentioned above, my prayer life looks like writing all of my prayers down in a notebook. I used to struggle with the thought that God didn’t hear my writing. Writing is the way that I best communicate, and in order to say what I wanted to say, or in order to pray powerful, scripture-based prayers, I needed to write it down. I know that God hears the prayers of my heart.
6.) Spend time in worship
There are times that I can’t immediately enter into prayer. It may be that I have too many distractions, or I’m feeling a little discouraged, or I just don’t know what to pray. Getting into an attitude of worship helps release what needs to be prayed. I have worship playlist that settles my mind down, and often the lyrics will encourage prayer or even a scripture to study.
Oftentimes, praise is the victory that is needed for a situation. In 2 Chronicles 20, we read of Jehosephat being warned of an oncoming attack. He declared a fast and all of Judah came to inquire of The Lord. In verses 6-12, we read of the review of what God has done in the lives of this nation and their forefathers. Here’s what I want you to see:
“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to The Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever!’ As they began to sing and praise, The Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (verses 21-22)
Not only does praise usher you into His presence, it sets ambushes against the enemy for victory.