Whether you believe in God or not, whether you find the story of Jesus to be authentic or bogus, you have probably tossed up some prayers. If you grew up in church, you may have been taught TO pray and HOW TO pray and been told that you SHOULD pray. But here you are . . . an adult, a busy adult, a competent adult, and prayer may have slipped off your radar. It didn’t work the way you hoped. It was the first thing to go when the kids came along. It was never a regular part of your life. You wonder if it makes a difference. You struggle with prayer. And yet . . .
You miss it.
You wonder about it.
You feel a desire to be better at it.
You are new to faith in Jesus and you want to connect with him.
You suspect prayer belongs somewhere in your schedule.
So let’s do it. Don’t wait. Lean into those suspicions.
Here are three simple but important ways to get better at praying.
Pick a spot.
Make it your spot for talking with God. Jesus made a habit of this.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
— Luke 5:16
So go get lonely with God in your spot. Withdraw from distractions. Start with a few minutes. Let five become eight. Let eight become ten. Let ten become twelve, and so on. Find your spot. Withdraw from everything else.
Start your prayer time by reading a Psalm.
A preacher once said, “The Psalms are in the middle of the Bible because they are the heartbeat of God.” That’s probably a man-made sentiment, but the Psalms seem to describe the heart of God so well. They are raw and honest writings about who God is and our heart’s longing to know him. By spending some time reading a Psalm or two, you can prepare your heart for time with him.
Get really good at short prayers.
Greg Stier, the founder of Dare 2 Share, a ministry that encourages teenagers to share their faith in Jesus, points out the prayer of Elijah on Mt. Carmel as he seeks to demonstrate to the people that the God of Israel is the real deal. This is his prayer:
“Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
— 1 Kings 18:36–37
This prayer of just 60 words followed hours and hours of prayer by the prophets of Baal. For over six hours, 450 of them had each prayed—2,700 hours of prayer—to no avail. But just one short prayer, an honest cry from a faithful heart, brought down consuming fire from heaven.
Greg’s point? The volume, intensity, and length of our prayers are nothing compared to the focus, authenticity, and depth of our faith. Pray short or pray long, but pray with belief that God cares, hears, and listens to your voice.
Take a minute or two, find a great spot, pick up a Psalm, and talk to God about what’s on your heart right now.