Do you have any friends that you don’t communicate with anymore? There was no event or disagreement that ended your relationship, it just sort of fizzled out because neither you nor your friend reached out and contacted each other. Or maybe they sent you a message but you forgot to reply until it seemed too late.
Our relationship with God can be similar; if we don’t maintain the connection it will fade away. God has made huge efforts to make a relationship with him possible—he created us, rescued us from our own sin through Jesus, and has an eternity with him prepared—so it would be tragic to relegate him to the status of a forgotten high school friend.
If you’re a new Christian, you may not be sure of how to pray, or you might need encouragement to pray more often. Let’s think through some of the benefits of prayer, as well as a few habits that assist with maintaining a healthy prayer life.
Prayer is powerful; we’re interacting with the creator of the universe! There are real positive benefits from praying on a daily basis. Some reasons I have found daily prayer beneficial are:
- It sets up my day in a positive manner. When I wake up in the morning, I usually do a short Bible study and say a prayer. I try and start my prayer with things I am thankful for. So I’m not even ten minutes into my day, but I have already spent time being grateful before God for who he is and what he’s done.
- I get to communicate with God. All good relationships value time spent together. Making prayer a daily habit ensures that I keep the most important relationship in my life as the most important.
- Prayer makes me more caring. I keep a weekly list of things and people I need to pray about. This primes me to consider the struggles and successes of others. When I do leave my home and I have a negative encounter with someone, I remember all the people I prayed for earlier and their situations. This reminds me that I don't know the difficulties that person is facing, and helps me be patient and forgiving.
- Prayer allows me to self-examine any problems or guilt in my life. I can then ask for forgiveness and confront the issues that need to be dealt with. Bottling up guilt can lead to increased stress and weaken your immune system. It is healthy to unpack guilt on a regular basis; it reminds us that we don’t need it now that we’re forgiven in Christ.
- I get to strengthen my faith. By praying I am reaffirming both my faith in God and that he hears me. A faith that is put into practice on a regular basis is a strong faith.
Here are some simple steps to get ready to pray:
- Set aside time to pray to God. I like to pray both when I wake up and before I go to bed.
- Find a quiet room or space to pray.
- Prepare mentally for prayer. I try and clear my head before starting, so I’m not distracted and thinking about something else.
- Decide what you want to pray about. This is where a prayer list comes in handy. I keep a written list of things that I want to pray about, and then before I begin I add new items and remove completed ones from it (don’t forget to thank God for his outcome if removing something!).
- Choose a physical position—head bowed, kneeling, standing, eyes closed, sitting, etc. It doesn't really matter what you do, just whatever comes natural.
- Begin by addressing God (example: Almighty God, Merciful God, Jesus, etc.).
- Praise God for who he is (example: holy, just, gracious, powerful, etc.).
- If you are doing a Bible study before praying, address a few points from what you’ve read.
- Thank God (examples: family, friends, good health, food, etc.).
- Ask forgiveness. This can be for specific sins or just general forgiveness.
- Ask for guidance (examples: help overcoming a difficulty, strength, courage, biblical wisdom, etc.).
- Pray for others (examples: someone that is having a health issue, someone to come to the faith, someone with a problem at work, etc.).
- Finish your prayer (example: in Jesus’ name I pray).
These are just ideas to help prepare and guide you for prayer, but planning to pray and having structure will help you stay on track. Consider these suggestions and take the parts that work best for you. Remember, your relationship with God is important, and prayer is a critical way that relationship is maintained.