It happens to the best of us. We are in love with God, but the busy schedules we set for ourselves intrude. The next thing we know, it has been weeks since we sat down to pray. Time has the ability to slip away from us. Here are seven ways to improve your prayer life over the next week.
Put down the technology. I am a techno-junkie to end all techno-junkies. I usually have my iPhone, iPad, and laptop all within arm’s reach at any given moment. I work online, socialize online, shop online, and learn online. And there are positives to that. But it also means I’m dividing my time and attention 10 different ways at once. And recently, it has become clear that multi-tasking does not help us at all. This means putting aside the tablet, and sitting at the table of our Father in Heaven, if we really want to improve our prayer life. Challenge yourself on day 1 to find a quiet place far from any technology to spend a little time praying. At first, your information addicted brain may get a little bored, but let the quiet was over your soul. And let God speak right to your heart.
Get rid of the clock. We live by our clocks and watches. Every second of every day seems, sometimes, to be scheduled. And having your time organized and allotted can be good. But, not for your prayer life. Rather than sitting through your prayer time glancing at your watch every 5 seconds, go in with mindset that you’ll stay without a thought to time. Move your focus from how long this will take, to how much God you really want.
Get up 10 minutes earlier. My biggest hindrance to prayer is forgetting to do it. Amidst the to-do lists and pressures of life, it slips by. I don’t mean to do it, but it happens. But, I find that, if I get up just a smidge earlier, I will pray before anything else needs to get done. Then, when I am going through my to-do list, prayer isn’t just another thing to get done, but was a foundation of my day. It can help set the tone and improve my outlook. As David said in Psalm 88:13 “But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.”
Keep a prayer journal. So many times, as you sit quietly in His Presence, He will tell you some or lay a burden on your heart. But, you forget to write it down. Months later, just when you need an encouraging word, you won’t remember that He spoke something straight to your heart that would answer you in that time of need. Keeping a journal or composition notebook and pen right next to your chair will allow you to jot down anything that comes to you during your prayer time. Later on, you can look back and see how your prayer time has made changes in you.
Set up an area away from everything. Even if you have to hide in the closet, find a spot where there are no distractions, no TV. Tell your family or room-mate or whoever that if they see you in that area, you are not to be disturbed. Make that place a sanctuary where you can devote yourself to time with God. You may find that this space becomes a crucial part of your prayer life.
Find and print a short devotional. Sometimes, the hardest part of getting started in prayer is having a starting point. Find a good devotion online, like My Utmost for His Highest or Joyce Meyer’s Daily Devotion. Or one that comes by email, like Ann Voskamp’s timely words. Don’t just pull them up on your PC if you will get distracted easily. (See Day 1 above.) Print it out and go to your special place. Read through the devotion. Let God speak through the words. And then pray what the devotion has sparked in your spirit.
Realize that prayer is a relationship, not a ritual. The sooner you realize that you aren’t checking a box on a to-do list or punching a card, the sooner prayer will open up to become a conversation between you and your Father. Jesus didn’t die so you could feel guilty for not doing something, or so you would be compelled to try and make Him happy. He died because He so desperately wanted you to get to know Him. He wanted to reveal His love, and prayer is the means of communication. Of communion.