“When I was a little kid, I prayed ‘now I lay me down to sleep …’ every night before bed because my parents insisted. I can still recite it in the same bored tone. And now that I’m an adult, I pray with that exact bored tone because I’m saying the same things I said yesterday and last year. Are my prayers even worth anything? I’m sure God is as bored with what I have to say as I am.”
Christians (along with people of most other faiths) believe personal prayer is a critical component of keeping our spiritual life strong and healthy. Prayer is a conversation with God in which we share our needs and listen for His guidance. It’s often a ritual reminding us God is the source of all we have. But sometimes, prayer becomes little more than a habit or a rut. We find ourselves praying with little enthusiasm and even less intent.
Fortunately, there are ways to pump renewed energy and greater meaning into your prayer life, and the first is to reflect on why you pray in the first place. Some people pray because they’re told they’re supposed to, but that’s looking a prayer from the wrong viewpoint.
The reality is prayer is a tremendous opportunity available to us. In a world of billions of people, God wants to communicate with you. Yes, you. The Bible makes it clear He wants us to bring our needs and ask for direction to get us through life. Our prayers are private, so we can share what’s in our heart and what’s troubling our soul.
So how can we best take advantage of that opportunity? For starters, we should try to pray when we won’t be distracted. When Jesus prayed, He’d walk away from His disciples to find a quiet place where He could be alone. For you, that may be the back yard, a local park, or even the bathroom … anywhere you can tune out the noise, interruptions, and distractions. It may even be in the morning before you drag yourself out of bed to face the day’s tasks.
When we pray, we can be our authentic selves. If you grew up in a highly regimented faith culture, you may have been conditioned to pray in specific ways at specific times. You don’t have to do that. God wants to know what you’re thinking in your own words. In fact, one easy way to pray is to imagine yourself having conversations with God throughout your day. For example, when you see something beautiful, you might just say, “Thank you, God, for creating this yellow tulip for me to see.” That’s a prayer.
We can learn about prayer, just as we learn about the other things in our lives. There are many guides to prayer you can find online or in a bookstore. You can even use the Bible as a prayer tool. After you read Scripture, reflect upon what you’ve just read and share your thoughts about it with God.
Prayer is powerful, and it’s a good habit to develop. If you’re finding it difficult or frustrating, one of our professional counselors can help you figure out why and give you strategies for pumping up your prayer life.