Let me start out by saying something I might be hanged for… I DON’T BELIEVE IN PRAYER.
That’s was liberating. I feel better now. It’s hard to keep that kind of secret, especially when you’re a pastor.
If you’re a Christian, you are probably getting more angry by the second as you read this. Let me challenge you a little bit. What does prayer do? What is prayer? Why would you believe in prayer? Praying, in and of itself is nothing more than talking or thinking coherent pleas, praises and promises to someone or something. Have you ever heard the phrase, “I pray you.” That kind of talking is mostly gone from our language, but it’s telling that “prayer” isn’t anything spectacular in and of itself.
If you’re not a Christian, you’re probably agreeing with me, but here’s where you might disagree…
I don’t believe in prayer, but I do believe in the one I pray to. I believe that God wants to be in relationship with me and you. I believe that praying to Him is part of growing that relationship. I believe He has the power to change my life, my relationships, my world… but He’s not interested in just changing my life or circumstances. He’s interested in redeeming all of the creation. He’s interested in His plan. He’s interested in involving you and me in the greatest story, the greatest adventure and the greatest mission… to be an instrument of His divine purpose. So that’s why I pray, to spill my guts to him and seek alignment with His will for my life and my world.
Maybe you’ve never learned how to pray. Jesus gives us a template for that and Andy Stanley does a great job unpacking that in this short clip.
If you’ve found your prayers to be a bit dull or feel like they’re hitting the ceiling, Don’t Start off Asking. Here are 5 tips for kickstarting your prayer life this year.
- Start Your Day With Prayer.
Here’s a practical reason this is a great tip to kickstart your prayer life in 2014, it frames the way you think for the rest of the day. It also goes great with reading a bit of the Bible. Sounds simple, sounds easy, but is anything but easy for me. I’ve got two small kids and my wife and I both work from home, so we switch off watching the kids while the other one works. That makes it difficult to get right to prayer and the Bible in the morning. But the days I do it prepares me to handle the stresses of the day.
- Write Your Prayers.
I used to keep a journal of thoughts. I have volumes and volumes of little moleskin books that I’ve written in as I travelled Europe and the United Stated while in college. I tried to keep up the habit post college, but it turned into a book where I jot down things I need from the story, or notes from a meeting or doodle. But recently I picked up a new moleskin and dedicated it to prayers. Let me tell you, it’s a different experience when you write your prayers. It causes me to concentrate more. It causes me to think about what I’m saying and not ramble. I causes me to pray with purpose and resolve and I like it.
- Go On A Prayer Walk, Run or Bike Ride… While On Airplane Mode.
Leave the phone at home or put it on airplane mode (if you need the clock function) and walk, run or bike as you pray. For me, when I stop to sit on a bench, I get distracted, unless it’s a secluded place with no people. But if I keep moving, in a rhythm, my prayer keeps flowing. Something about doing something mindless with your body, like running, means my brain works overtime and can concentrate better. I found this to be especially true when it was also a test of endurance. The longer the run, the harder I prayed. Imagine that.
- Get Outdoors.
This one goes hand and hand with number three. Just get outside. Get into a different environment. Go to an area of town or country that you don’t usually go and you might find yourself in a better mind frame to pray. For me, nature is a way I experience the presence of the God more than in a room by myself. My favorite place in the world is Yosemite National Park, especially, at the base of Yosemite Falls. I love it there. And somehow I feel close to God there. So, find a place, outside and try it out. Getting outdoors might just help you kickstart your prayer life too.
- Get On Your Face, In Your Closet.
Sometimes nothing but getting alone, in a dark place, with nobody else to see, on the ground, on your face… is what you might need to kickstart your prayer life. It’s humbling. It’s different. You’ll vacuum more. And you’ll rise from that prayer a little different, by the grace of God.
So there you have it, 5 Tips for Kickstarting Your Prayer Life in 2014. It’s not a complete list and I can think of a few more like, “Be Specific” that should probably go on this list. But that’s what’s working for me so far in 2014.
What’s working for you?