Disciplines of the Faith: 5 Tools to Deepen Your Prayer Life
Last week we discussed the personal devotion of prayer. We looked at the examples set by Daniel and Jesus and our own need to develop a rich, private prayer life.
But often, we struggle through the personal prayer. We do not pray as we ought and we struggle with how to bring our prayer life into alignment with God’s word. We feel like prayer should be simple so we are too embarrassed to become students of prayer.
Prayer is unique in this sense. We recognize that, in every other spiritual discipline, we need to train our bodies, minds, and souls to participate appropriately. But in this area, we have accepted the false teaching from society that we should simply follow our hearts and it has led to self-centric, pithy prayers.
Instead of treating prayer lightly, we need to take seriously the call to pray as Jesus taught us and as the Bible instructs.
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Read the Prayers of Others
The prayers of others can guide us in our prayer life because, they remind us to look at a story that is bigger than ourselves. When we read their prayers, we are reminded that God is intimately personal but yet, He calls us to be a part of a redemption story much bigger than simply ourselves.
Read through the Psalms and soak in the prayers of the psalmists. Notice how, nearly every single time, they are called back to the faithfulness of the Lord and the hope they experience in Him. They express the pain and struggles of life but set their pain in the context of the holy, perfect God they serve.
Valley of Vision is another excellent book of prayers. These poetic prayers remind me of my sinfulness, unworthiness, but also the extravagant love that has been lavished upon me. Whenever I read them, my heart is called out from despair and into praise.
Scotty Smith has an excellent book on prayers for each day of the year that as been heartily recommended to me as well. Each day has a different focus to help round your prayer life in prayers of praise, confession, adoration, and intercession.
Take On A Posture of Prayer
Instead of just silently recounting your thoughts to God, take on a physical posture to help center your heart. Kneel as Daniel did, before your Maker. Show Him the reverence He deserves. Pray out loud. Make the words deliberate.
If you struggle as I do in staying focused during prayer, I especially encourage you to make a practice of praying out loud. It is much harder to get distracted when you are speaking to someone as opposed to when you are simply thinking prayer.
Note: This doesn’t mean that you can’t prayer quickly, or silently throughout your day. This is simply an encouragement to deliberately set aside time throughout your day to kneel and pray aloud as well.
Read Books on Prayer
If reading prayers of others is the practical, this is the theoretical. But just because it’s theoretical, doesn’t mean it won’t practically affect your life. Tim Keller’s book on prayer is easy to read and is filled with Biblical wisdom and practical advice. It is a great way to get your feet wet.
Keller also has a devotional on the Psalms that is somewhere in-between the practical and the theoretical. What I love about this are the tiny, bite-sized pieces that Keller breaks the psalms and the practical application down into.
A few weeks ago, I also shared John Piper’s book on fasting and prayer. This is an excellent source to use to explore how these two disciplines are connected and the call all Christians have to fast and pray.
Ask Other Believers What They Find Helpful
For some believers, prayer journals are incredibly helpful. They write out prayers, track requests from other believers, and have a written way of looking back and seeing what God has done.
I have personally found prayer beads to be rejuvenating to my prayer life. It has helped me focus, not just on my requests, but on confession sin, adoring God for who He is, and expressing my thankfulness for what He has done. There are premade ones you can order online or as well as kits to make them yourself. If you’re feeling especially crafty, you could easily make a set yourself.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer
It seems obvious but, unfortunately, I have realized that praying the Lord’s Prayer regularly is something I have neglected in my own life. It is such a beautiful overview of the where our priorities should be as believers.
I encourage us all to take time, when we rise and when we fall into our beds at the end of the day, to pray the Lord’s Prayer.
There are many other beautiful prayers, books, and resources to help encourage your prayer life. Each person’s pray life might look slightly different than that of the person sitting next to them in the pew on Sundays. How we live out our prayer life might vary, but the truth of God’s word and the call to pray seriously does not vary.
We need to treat our prayer lives with the same passion for training our bodies, souls, and minds that we approach the other disciplines of the faith with.
Will you join me in pursuing a vibrant, holy prayer life?
Please take a moment and share below what resources and tools have helped you develop a Biblical prayer life.