5 Ways to Improve Your Prayer Life

If there is one thing consistent among almost every Christian I have ever talked to, preached to, studied with, no matter what level of maturity, no matter how long we’ve been a Christian, most of us think we need to do better at prayer. Either by praying more, praying longer, praying deeper. I say “almost every Christian” because I did poll one congregation during a sermon and one brother raised his hand to say his prayer life was good enough. But I think my polling now ranks in the thousands. One in thousands is not too inspiring.* So, what can we do to improve our prayers lives?  I’d like to share 5 things that have improved my prayer life. I hope they may help you as well.

#1: Schedule an appointment with God.

Don’t just intend to pray. Schedule it. Mark it in your day-planner. Put it on the calendar. If you wanted to meet with your boss, you’d schedule it. If you wanted to go on a date, you’d schedule it. When you want to meet with God, schedule it. When someone asks you to have coffee during that time, politely explain you already have an appointment with someone far more important.

#2: Have a place of prayer.

Obviously you can pray anywhere at anytime. I encourage you to pray everywhere. But I have also found that having a place dedicated to my specific and purposeful prayer time has been very powerful. Why? When I have a place dedicated to praying, every time I even pass by it, I start thinking about prayer. Sometimes it prompts prayer even when I wasn’t planning it.

(As an aside, don’t make your place of prayer your bed or easy chair. One complaint I’ve often heard among those who pray is, “I want to pray more, better, longer, but every time I start praying, I fall asleep.” I ask, “Where are you praying?” The response, “Oh, in bed.” I agree with many who say, “What better way to fall asleep.” However, I also agree with those who say, “If you feel asleep every time you talked to me, I’d start to get offended.” I have a place dedicated for sleep. I try not to confuse the issue by also making that my place dedicated to prayer.)

#3: Pray out loud.

This may sound odd, but it has helped me tremendously. Obviously, there are times praying out loud isn’t appropriate. When you are in that staff meeting and your boss is getting on your last nerve, you probably shouldn’t pray out loud, “Dear God, help me deal with this man.” But, pray out loud sometimes and see if it doesn’t help. It helps me because when I’m praying my mind can tend to wander. When I’m praying in my head, it is often hard to tell when I’m praying and when I’m just thinking. When I pray out loud, I can always tell. I’m praying when I’m making noise, I’m just thinking when I’m not. By the way, it is great to spend some time thinking while we pray. So even when you pray out loud, don’t be worried about times of silence. Take some time to think about what you are praying, but then pray it out loud.

#4: Make lists.

One of the most helpful tools I’ve developed is my “prayer Moleskine.” In it, I have lists of prayers from the Bible and other sources that I love to repeat. I have lists of praise prayers from the psalms that help me praise God. I have lists for thanksgiving, special requests, evangelists I know, churches I’ve been to, family, friends, granted requests. With these lists all in one place, I don’t have any trouble praying more and longer. In fact, the big trouble is now I have so much to pray for that I struggle finding the time.

#5: Plan your praying.

Now that I have so much to pray for, I’ve learned to plan my praying. This is different from scheduling. Scheduling was setting a time to pray. Planning means figuring out what to pray when. You don’t have to pray for everything on your lists every day. Rather, plan to pray for certain things on each day. For instance, Sunday is my praise and thanksgiving day. While I do some of that every day, Sunday is specifically for that purpose. Monday is my day to pray for evangelism and evangelists. Tuesday is my day to pray for my family and friends. And so on. Obviously, this is not hard and fast. I have some issues going on in my extended family that I pray for every day right now. These are just general guidelines that help me.

I’m always looking for other things to help me pray better, deeper, to connect more meaningfully with God. What practical tools or concepts have helped improve your prayer life? You can add your input by clicking here.

*By the way, I’m not too worried that almost all Christians think they need to improve in prayer. I’m far more concerned about the spiritual status of the one brother who said his prayer life was good enough than I am about the thousands who claim they wanted to do better. We all need to grow always.

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  • Bbrhodes

    This article is so good and thank you for the praying out loud tip. I really would have never thought of that. Being 63, I have lived through some very trying circumstances. I can tell you that a prayer that is done on your knees is a different kind of prayer – just like the praying out loud – it makes you very well aware of what you are doing and why. It also makes you feel humble in a way that nothing else can. I believe that a person can pray in any situation or position day or night but during those times of deep mourning or beseeching, your knees are the place to be. Since I have had double knee replacement, I now have a difficult time with this, but I know it can make a difference, perhaps only within yourself.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, we can pray in any position and with any posture. But you are absolutely right, some postures make a difference to our mindset. My experience has also been that kneeling, bowing, and prostration make a huge difference in my mindset while I’m praying. Thanks for adding that tip.

  • Melanthony7

    I definitely believe there exists more power in a prayer on one’s knees, than in an un-humbled or un-prostrate position. God hears all of it, but the sense of humility we can tap into when we do prostrate ourselves or humble ourselves in position goes a long way, and instantly. I felt subtly moved to pray like the Muslims do, during a brief point in time about a year and a half ago; I decided to pray before sunrise, while my coffee was brewing, kneeling on the kitchen floor and placing my forehead down against the floor. I felt that in my position, I was making myself as “low” as physically possible. For about 2 weeks, after beginning that practice, I VERY noticeably felt God’s presence, and the awesome uforia of being consumed by a bit of His Spirit…I even experienced this while listening to INXS on my treadmill! (As I heard the lyrics, I twisted them in my head to have spiritual, devotional meaning, rather than secular…) Well, point of the story is this: The power in that lowly position is obvious. The enemy of my soul didn’t like what I was doing ONE BIT. After two weeks, I came down with an abrupt case of Bronchitis, which began simply as swollen glands in my throat, which prevented me from leaning forward with my forehead on the floor during prayer time; it put pressure on my glands, and made them feel even more swollen. I tried to press on, but began to focus more on this physical obstacle, instead of trusting God and saying, “NO! God will bring me through; NOTHING will interfere with my fruitfl prayer time!” So, instead of keeping my eyes focused on Him, rather than looking to the left or the right, I did allow myself to become distracted by the problem, and so I stopped praying for a few weeks. And THAT was the end of that.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your input. While I’m not sure that a particular position increases the effectiveness of a prayer as far as God hearing it, I’m definitely with you that our body position does something to us in that prayer. I even wrote about it in my book, “Plugged-In: High Voltage Prayer.” I dubbed it “whole-body praying.” I think we recognize the connection much better when our body mirrors the point of the prayer. It is much easier to humble ourselves emotionally, mentally, and spiritually if we are also humbling ourselves physically. It is much easier to rejoice emotionally, mentally, and spiritually if we are rejoicing physically.

      Don’t let it be the end. Even if you’ve taken a break from getting your whole body involved in the prayer, you can always get back to it. Why not start today?

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Dakchak J. Sangma

    I am very bless through this article it helps me alot thank you so much may God bless you and use you as a chanel of blessing to others Amen.

  • Terrique Joseph

    This article has been extremely helpful, I always think I am the only one with praying challenges. Thank you for the guidelines.

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