In Part 1, I confessed to the feeling that I don’t have it completely together when it comes to my prayer life. In case you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.
In this post, I want to share some things about praying that have helped me, and some that haven’t. Once again, a disclaimer: I’m no expert, and I hope by suggesting ideas that I don’t come across as one. Also, this isn’t meant to be a prayer primer or instruction manual. I’m simply out to share my personal experiences.
I do my best to build into every day a private time of reading the Bible and praying. My prayer time is early in the morning- a little after 6AM. That’s about the only time it’s quiet around here.
Many people like to pray in the evening instead of the morning, and a good case can be made for either time. I’ve adopted a morning schedule for a couple of reasons. It fits my personality- I am a morning person, and a good cup of coffee (or three) goes well with my prayer time. Also, I like to pray about my upcoming day. My daily schedule is always on the agenda. Morning praying allows me to ask God to guide my studying, be with me in counseling or meetings, and prepare me for the phone call or visit that I didn’t know was coming.
So it’s 6:15AM, I’m settled in, and I’m ready to go. What happens next?
I begin with devotional reading from some source, then read a couple of chapters from the Bible. Reading before praying has helped me a lot. It focuses my thinking, and quite often the Holy Spirit points out something from the text that I need to pray about.
Then I pray. I’ve tried many different frameworks or templates for praying, and those things just don’t click with me. In my youth, I was taught to pray using the ACTS acrostic (A for Adoration, C for Confession, T for Thanksgiving, and S for Supplication). Praying this way makes me feel like I have a checklist, and once I’ve touched on everything, I’ve done my duty.
Let me share with you two things I’ve learned that has helped my praying. The first is what I call “praying empty.” Praying empty is simply that- praying for anything that comes to mind. If you think of it, pray for it. If a person comes to mind, pray for them. Stay at it until nothing else comes up, and then stop. This is a way to get on top of the feeling that you’re not praying long enough.
“Praying empty” is simply that- praying for anything that comes to mind. If you think of it, pray for it.
The second prayer principle that has helped me is learning how to listen when I pray. I’ve learned to ask God questions when I’m praying. I ask about how I should think and feel about the issues and events of my life. I ask where I ought to be leading our church. Things like that. And then I listen closely. And lo and behold, God talks back! The fact that it’s taken me decades to discover this simple fact is a tribute to my prayer prowess.
The bottom line when it comes to prayer is this: there’s no secret formula, and there’s no streamlined process. Prayer is hard. It takes discipline. It takes time. But prayer is the door to a whole new dimension in your spiritual walk.
When and how do you like to pray? What principle has helped you become a better pray-er? Please share your experiences.