I’m embarrassed to admit that I never thought of myself as having a rich prayer life. I think it’s because I assumed a rich prayer life meant locking myself away for hours with a five-page list of prayer requests, maybe dropping down to my knees with hands folded, and spending at least 30-60 minutes of uninterrupted time.
But the truth is a rich prayer life is simply conversing with God. Once I shifted my thinking, prayer became more natural. Yes, there’s still a place for devoted prayer time (more on that below). But it doesn’t have to be limited to long stretches of time.
If you’re struggling to build a prayer routine — or if you want ideas to deepen and expand your current prayer life — here are five habits to try this week.
1. Schedule a regular time for focused prayer.
See, I told you this would be in here, didn’t I? The clincher is that it doesn’t have to be an hour-long session like the saint across the church aisle engages in every day. Even three to five minutes of focused prayer can begin building a deeper habit of communication with God.
When could you block off time for prayer in your schedule? Here are some times that have worked well for me:
- When I first wake up – Before my feet hit the floor or I reach for my phone, I linger in bed for a few minutes and pray through the day ahead.
- After my Bible reading – This can be a powerful time of reflection as I process what I’ve just read. I find myself lifting up the needs of the day, but also asking God to equip me to live out the truths I’ve just learned in His Word. (For more on my devotions routine, you can check it out HERE.)
- When I go to bed – This time works well for me because the kids are asleep, and I have some uninterrupted minutes. Praying at the end of the day is a great opportunity to thank God for the gifts He provided and to also lift up prayer needs that came up during the day.
2. Learn to stop and pray in the moment.
When a need arises, where do you turn first? For me, I’ve found it easy to call a friend, Google a solution to the problem, or stew and fret and worry. But every need that arises in my life is an opportunity to turn to God in prayer.
Whether for myself or someone else, using that problem as a prayer prompt can develop a richer habit. (For more on praying in the moment, check out this power-packed article.)
3. When your mind wanders, turn your thoughts into prayers.
A woman once told me that she always felt guilty when her mind wandered while she prayed. Then she realized that perhaps those wandering thoughts were actually Spirit promptings. If someone came to mind, she would pray for him or her. If a situation or task on her to-do list came to mind, she would lift it up to God.
The Holy Spirit can use your wanderings to deepen your prayer life. When a thought comes, filter it through the lens of prayer and see what He wants to show you.
4. Create prayer triggers.
Certain situations or events happen on a regular basis, and they can become a trigger for prayer. I know of one woman who prays every time she hears sirens. She prays for the police or first responders and the people they’re going to help. Another woman once told me she always prays when a stoplight turns red while she’s driving.
What are those everyday occurrences in your life? Maybe you could pray for each room in your house as you clean. Perhaps you could pray for your neighbors as you drive past their house. The everyday routines in our lives hold amazing potential for prayer. Don’t miss them!
5. Learn to be silent.
Oh boy, this is the hardest one, isn’t it? Being silent is sooo hard. But it’s impossible to hear the voice of God if we’re constantly filling our ears with the noise of this world. Whether you carve out scheduled prayer time, pray in the moment, or develop prayer triggers, silence has to be part of your routine.
No, it doesn’t need to be monk-like silence. Simple choices can quiet the noise in your life. Here are a few ideas:
- Set aside your phone/tablet/computer/TV remote for at least one hour a day. I know, I know… Some of you just hyperventilated reading that. But think how much closer you would feel to God if you didn’t have a screen constantly beckoning you.
- Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier in the morning, and use that time to be still in prayer. Or, if that’s a recipe for falling right back to sleep, set a timer to remind you to go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier at night, and use that time to be still in prayer.
- If you do a lot of driving, keep the radio off or play worship music that will prompt you to worship and pray while you drive.
- When you pray, don’t be afraid to ask God a question and pause for a moment. I know it might sound mystical, but I can’t tell you how many times He’s brought to mind a Bible verse or word that gave me clarity during the pause.
Building a rich prayer life takes intentionality, but it’s much easier than you might think. Simple habits formed in the everyday can lead to great things for eternity.
Walking the journey with you,
*prayer photo by Travis Gann, www.lightstock.com