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Practical Prayer Help

It is really ironic that praying is so hard. I mean, really, isn’t that strange when you think about it? Prayer allows us to come up close, to settle in for an intimate conversation with our closest companion and friend, but it is something that most of us struggle with.

Some Christians admit they rarely pray; it’s just too hard.

I want to be a prayer warrior when I grow up. I’m not there, yet, but I’ll share with you a few things I’ve found helpful through the years:

  • Start Early 

If I don’t start my day early, then I’ll have to rush through my time in the Word and focused prayer. And that’s never a good way for me to begin. You may be a night owl, and like to do your devotional time at 11 p.m. and that may work for you, but I’ve found that I need to start my day by asking the Spirit to fill and direct me. That’s how my day begins, by asking the Spirit to open my eyes to what He knows I need to see in the Word that day. Asking the Father to show me the sin I’m blind to, and open my heart to receive the truth of His Word.

Prayer and God’s Word go hand in hand: the Word directs our prayers, and at the same time, prayer is our communication line as we seek to receive instruction from God’s Word.

One thing about starting early, though . . . the older I get, the foggier my brain is in the morning. So, I typically pray while waiting for my teapot to signal me that the water is ready. I pour the water over my tea bag and pray while the tea is steeping, I sip my first cup of tea and pray . . . and my brain fog begins to clear a bit, so that my prayer time will be a little more coherent!

I have people that I pray for daily (my family and close friends), and this is who I begin my day interceding for. As I’m studying the Word, often the Spirit brings someone else, or a specific situation to mind that I’ve missed praying for, and I’ll stop to lift them up. I also keep a prayer journal that helps me stay on track with people and ministries that need prayer.

  • Pray Out-Loud

When I’m starting my day, it really helps if I pray out-loud, or at least whisper my prayers, often I write them out. This helps me to stay on track and not wander off.

I don’t always pray out-loud. Especially when I’m in conversation, you won’t hear me praying, but typically while I’m involved in a serious discussion, I’ll be lifting up silent prayers—asking God for discernment and help. While I’m talking, I’ll be asking the Spirit to fill my mouth with what I should say.

  • Posture Matters

There is something about going to my knees in prayer that adjusts my attitude. I don’t always pray on my knees, I pray when I’m driving, when I’m walking, when I’m in the shower or putting on makeup. That is the beauty of having an open door of communicating with God. He is Spirit, and He is always accessible. I don’t have to physically transport myself to a specific location to pray. It doesn’t have to be in church and I don’t have to kneel. But there is something that happens to my heart, when in the process of kneeling, I signify that God is worthy of my adoration; when I adjust and humbly move my body to an appropriate stance before the Ruler of the Universe. 

  • Follow the ACTS Form

This acronym is probably very familiar to you, but in case you’ve never hear of it, this is a simple format for your prayers:

A: Adoration

Spend some time worshiping and praising God for who He is. A great way to practice this literally is by singing a hymn. I keep a hymnal with my daily devotional books and when I pull it out (which is not often enough), the majestic words about my Savior bring me into personal moments of adoration. I think He delights in it when we sing to Him.

C: Confession 

God knows all that is in my heart, all I’ve done, every wrong thought and selfish action. Nothing is hidden from Him, but when we ignore or try to cover and hide our sin, God will not hear our prayers (Psalm 66:18, Psalm 32). Confession is agreeing with God about my sin, bringing it into the light, confessing it, and turning from it.

T: Thanksgiving 

Thanking God for His goodness and all the ways He’s been gracious, listing them specifically leads me to moments of true worship. I’ve written more on this important component of prayer here.

  • Timers Help 

Twice daily, the clock strikes 10:00 and that’s when our church body prays for one another. Some of us have alarms set on our phones to help us remember to stop for a few moments and pray. When LeRoy and I were at Focus on the Family recording some programs recently, my 10 a.m. prayer alarm went off during our recording. It interrupted us and we laughed about it, but it was really special to me, as it reminded me that our church was lifting us up in prayer.

One thing I like about setting a timer to pray at a later point in the day is, that it grabs my attention and brings me back to what matters—stepping into the eternal and resuming the battle through prayer. I also have a clearer head for targeted prayer by the time 10:00 a.m. rolls around!

  • Planning 

I have a group of precious sister-friends and we pray together over the phone monthly. We are scattered across the country (one even outside the U.S.) but when we have our monthly prayer times together we experience a supernatural unity and fellowship that is powerful and encouraging. These kinds of prayer times don’t just happen—it takes planning. (I’m so thankful for my friend that keeps the group on task with that!)

When I have a friend who is struggling, I’ll set up a prayer call, sometimes at regular intervals we’ll have “prayer” appointments. I encourage you to do more than “intend on” praying with a friend or developing a prayer partner. Put it on the calendar. Plan for it!

  • Scripture Provides Direction 

Praying doesn’t have to be rocket science. Thankfully, God has given us our own personal prayer-book that He’s written for us Himself! Scripture is filled with prayers we can apply to the needs we are interceding for. Here are a few that I’ve used:

Prayers for my husband: Ephesians 1:17–19; Psalm 15:1–2, 92:12–15

Prayers for our children: Colossians 1:9–12; 2 Corinthians 13:7–8; 1Timothy 4:12, 6:11–12; 2 Timothy 2:22; Proverbs 2:20

Tomorrow’s post will be all about Scripture praying, so check back for more on that!

Want to add to the list?

What are some practical things that help your prayer life?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

12 Comments

  • Briana

    I love to pray, and I live out of desperation most of the time so prayer is something I find myself doing a lot of. Nevertheless, I loved the suggestions you provided here, especially setting a timer during the day and gathering others purposefully with the intention to pray.

  • Sandra

    Perhaps the most beneficial thing for me is to take advantage of silence. Like many with a busy life/home, it’s difficult to find windows of silence, so I too must start very early – before my family awakens. But I’ve experienced some precious times of prayer (or wordless worship) during walks in the mountains, radio-less errands in the car, or folding laundry (everyone seems to scatter when that dryer buzzer sounds…) In my life at least, it seems regular periods of silence are essential to a quiet heart; and a quiet heart leads to meaningful communion and worship.

  • Vivian Etherington

    Excellent post, Kim! Thank you! I agree that there is a supernatural unity that occurs when praying with others….I need to do more of that; it is my heart to but it’s sometimes hard to find others who are willing to take the time to do it. I agree with Sandra about how essential silence is in our lives…it’s why I love the early mornings too! I can’t recapture the quietness of early morning once the day gets going. My mind is pulled in too many directions! Keep praying for me in this area of growth and let’s set a prayer appointment soon!

  • Vicki

    Great post, Kim! I especially like your idea of the timer a couple times during the day – going to put that into practice with some close friends.

    Prayer is a hard thing for me to keep at, too, but I find that I pray most consistently and earnestly when I am burdened about someone. I started understanding that toward the middle of last year as I noticed that some mornings my prayer time was so much more intimate and intense than others, so I asked God to keep giving me prayer burdens. He has been responding to that. It’s actually been quite amazing to watch him work through prayer that has been in response to the burden He has given me. The burden comes, and it can be very intense at times, but it’s not a devastating burden, if that makes any sense. It has helped me to understand a ittle better “His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”

    Thanks for your always-wise insight and for taking the time to put it into words that are publishable. 🙂 You really are making a difference in God’s Kingdom.

    Love,
    Vicki

  • Vicki

    So true what you all are saying about silence! Same with me. I’ve learned that to postpone that time pretty much means to cancel, because I just never get around to it later. And if I do, it’s just not the same. My prayer life has grown by leaps and bounds as I’ve disciplined myself to consistent early mornings.

    I’d sure love to meet all you ladies!!!!!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Briana ~

    Being desperate for God can be a painful place, but that is really the best place of prayer! Thanks for sharing, let me know how it goes with using timers! 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Yes, yes, YES, Sandra! Meeting with Him in the quiet of my heart, being still before Him and meditating on who He is, the quiet is so necessary to connect deeply with Him! Thanks for that reminder~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you, Viv! I’m thankful for the opportunities God gives us to pray together and I’m so blessed by your faithfulness to pray for me! 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Me, too, Vicki!! Would love to have a prayer session together, hmmmm, I wonder if we could have some kind of live online prayer session? I’ll be thinking and praying on that! 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you so much, Vicki, for always encouraging me here!

    Yes, I agree that when we are in a desperate condition, it presses us in to prayer in a more intense way. We see God using that cycle in the Old Testament as He dealt with His people. When their hearts would wander to idolatry, He would bring judgment which would bring them to a desperate place and cause them to cry out for Him! Oh that we would all cry out to Him in worship and praise with the same level of intensity that we express when we cry to Him for help!

    I left you a long comment on the “Growing in Prayer” post, but it isn’t showing up 🙁 technology! Hopefully it will appear, soon! I posted a few links for you there that go along with your spiritual focus for this year. I’m excited you will be focusing on love!

    Blessings, friend ~