Prayer is an integral part of a Christian’s life. Maybe the better way to say it is that prayer should be an integral part of a Christian’s life. With our busy schedules and 100 things to accomplish each day, prayer can easily get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list – if it makes it there at all.
I’m speaking to myself here. Oh, I pray. Just like I’m sure you do. But sometimes I wonder if prayer is truly a key component of my faith-filled life or just something I pull out when I have a need?
I struggle with the act of prayer, with getting quiet and communicating with God. The part that challenges me the most is listening for God’s voice – shamefully, I don’t usually have difficulty telling Him what I need or want. Can anyone relate??
But there’s so much more to prayer than just running my mental wish list by Him.
As I thought about ways to improve the quality of my prayer life, I recognized six things that personal prayer does not have to be:
Prayer doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it doesn’t have to follow any form or use any specific words in order to be effective. We are given examples throughout the Bible of how to pray, but any time we approach God with humble hearts and a desire to hear from Him, we are praying.
Prayer doesn’t have to take place only in quiet, secluded places. Ideally, you need to have some time set aside each day for focused prayer, but you can pray anywhere, anytime. In the car, in the shower, in an airport – anywhere is a good place to pray.
Prayer doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) only about us. We are commanded to intercede for others, lifting them and their needs up to God. Keeping a prayer list in my journal helps me to remember everyone I want and need to pray for.
Prayer doesn’t have to only be expressed in words. When the pain is so great or the circumstances so confusing that you don’t know what to ask for or how to express your heartache to God, just sit there. He knows your thoughts without you ever expressing them.
Prayer doesn’t have to be limited to one little time slot in your day. Truthfully, it shouldn’t be confined to one part of your day, but should instead be woven throughout your day.
Prayer doesn’t have to be only spoken or thought. Prayer can be written. One of the challenges I’ve faced with developing my prayer life is keeping my mind from wandering. Writing my prayers in a journal helps me stay focused and it allows me to look back over time and see how God has answered my prayers.
Prayer can take many shapes and forms, but it doesn’t have to be something we dread for fear that we won’t do it right. Our prayer life also doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. We are each unique and our relationship with God is as unique. The key is that we have genuine, heartfelt conversations with our God who listens.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.
Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
Is anyone among you sick?
Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them
and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;
the Lord will raise them up.
If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.