For a lot Americans, every day is a day of prayer. More than half (55%) of Americans say they pray every day, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, while 21% say they pray weekly or monthly and 23% say they seldom or never pray. Even among those who are religiously unaffiliated, 20% say they pray daily.
However, for the 45% who say they struggle with praying every day, I have two words of encouragement:
1. Don’t feel bad. I suspect that many who claim to pray everyday struggle with it as well.
2. You can learn to supercharge your prayers every day. It’s not as hard as you think.
Four Ways to Supercharge Your Prayer Life
1. Ritual is Your Friend
The key to forming good habits is to make them part of your ‘rituals.’ I have a morning ritual, afternoon ritual, and Sunday ritual. It’s one way to bundle good habits into regular times that you set aside to prepare yourself for the life you want. Rituals help you form habits.” – Lewis Howes
Jesus had an early morning ritual. He rose early each morning and found a solitary place to pray (Mk. 1:35; Lk. 4:42).
For those who are extremely busy, a ritual is the best way to make sure prayer is a consistent part of the day. I highly recommend developing a morning and evening ritual that includes at least 15 minutes of prayer. This will assure that even on your busiest days you will spend half an hour in prayer.
2. Time is Relative
Jesus prayed some really short prayers — at Lazarus’ tomb (Jn. 11:41-42), and on the cross (Mt. 27:46), to name two.
Some people struggle with prayer because they feel like they have to spend an hour talking to God. Honestly, I rarely talk to anyone for one hour without stopping. That’s simply not the way we communicate in our culture.
I recommend talking to God the way you might talk to your best friend – 15-20 minute conversations spaced throughout the day. Remember – 5 minutes of honest, heartfelt, strategic conversation with God is much more productive than an hour of rambling, and searching for things to say.
3. Variety is The Spice of (Prayer) Life
Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” – William Cowper
Jesus prayed in a lot of different places and in different ways. Click HERE to read an article where I name the different places and occasions for Jesus’ prayers.
Another stumbling block to a consistent prayer life is a lack of variety. People complain that prayer seems boring or that they don’t know what to say to God. After a few minutes of trying they give up because they aren’t sure what to say next. The problem is not a lack of things to say to God – the problem is a lack of imagination and variety.
There are numerous ways to enter into a conversation with God. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Question and Answer – Ask God a question or a series of questions and then sit in silence listening for that small, still voice. You might be surprised at what you “hear.”
- Pray the Scripture – Use a single passage of Scripture (Psalm 1 is a great place to start) and read the Scripture to God in the first-person tense. Spend time repeating the passage to God, pausing at the end of each sentence, giving God space to respond.
- Quick Prayer – These are one to two sentence prayers offered throughout the day. You can set your watch or iPhone alarm to remind you four to five times a day. When the alarm sounds stop what you are doing and give God the first thing that comes to your mind. Whatever it is – it’s just a spontaneous prayer to God that takes less than 30 seconds.
- Written Prayers – Get a book of written prayers and read them to God. Read it like you mean it. You might be surprised at how God will honor the effort.
4. Don’t Make It More Complicated Than What It Is
Prayer is the creator as well as the channel of devotion. The spirit of devotion is the spirit of prayer.” – E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer
Jesus’ prayers were simple and uncomplicated. In fact, he instructed his disciples against praying with excessive words or flowery speech to impress others (Mt. 6:5-7)
Don’t get me wrong – prayer is one of the most important and powerful things you will ever do. It is a sacred and holy act. I believe you should take it very seriously. However, it is easy to unduly complicate the prayer process.
Some struggle with prayer because they don’t feel worthy or think that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to do it. They then become paralyzed thinking that they are not “good enough” or “spiritual enough” to engage in deep and abiding prayer. This, of course, could not be farther from the truth.
Prayer is essentially a simple act. It is simply talking to God and then waiting for Him to respond. There is no set form that is superior to others. There are no secret codes or formulas. It is the most egalitarian endeavor. It is for children (in fact, they are really good at it) and adults, the poor and the rich, the simple and the scholar. Prayer is for everyone. Don’t make it more complicated than what it is.
I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln
Three Important Things to Remember
1. Take one day at a time;
2. Give God as much time as you can each day.
3. Don’t punish yourself when you fall short.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).