Greg Qualls » The Resurgence.com
Bible reading and prayer are the two most basic spiritual disciplines of Christian faith. Prayer in the simplest way is talking to God. It is sharing with your loving father your heart, thoughts, emotions, requests, needs, cares, anxieties, worries, praises, thanksgivings, hopes, and desires. The list could go on for days. God speaks to you through his Word and you speak to him through prayer. Here are some simple tips for developing a discipline of prayer:
1. SET UP “TRIGGERS” IN YOUR LIFE.
Take things that you do every day and make them triggers for you to pray. Here are some ideas to help you get started: taking a shower, using the bathroom, getting in your car, making coffee, getting in bed, getting ready to read your Bible, finishing reading your Bible, driving to work, driving home, finishing lunch, eating eggs, sailing on a boat, scratching your nose, and buying a tambourine. You get the idea. Take things that you do every day and use them as a trigger to pray.
2. HAVE A PLAN.
If you don’t have a plan, you can easily become a random prayer. Whatever comes to your head at the time is what you will pray for. You will constantly be praying for the same things over and over. This isn’t necessarily bad, but there are a lot more things/people in your life that you could be praying for. So have a standard place where you keep track of all the things that you want to pray about. Then review this list at least once a day. This way nothing gets left behind.
3. TALK TO GOD.
This might sound dumb to some, but for others this will be an epiphany. I don’t know if you have noticed this or not, but some people like to use what could be called “prayer talk.” This is where a person suddenly embodies the spirit of a TV evangelist and sees how many times they can say the words God, Father God, Lord, or Jesus (whichever is the person’s favorite) in a prayer. It comes as a surprise to most that you can actually just talk to God. You don’t have to use his name as the punctuation to every sentence. You don’t have to speak in old English. You can just talk to him. Just like you talk to your friends about your troubles and your successes, you can talk to him. You can tell him your struggles and failures. You can tell him jokes. You can even be angry and cry out to him (read a few Psalms and you’ll get the idea). Prayer is you simply talking to God. No flair. No technicalities. No special formulas. Just talking.
4. WRITE IT DOWN.
When you develop a habit of constantly praying, it becomes easy to forget what you’ve prayed about. Therefore, you can lose track of whether or not God has answered your prayers. This is so you can look back and see how God has answered your prayers over time. Keep it simple though. Don’t set a limit. That means no minimum or maximum. It puts an unnecessary burden on you. Some days you will write pages worth of prayer to God. Other days it will be the simple phrase, “God help me.” The idea is to simply write it out.
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
During the time of Jesus, Jews would have standard prayers for everything that they would do. You would have a standard prayer for plowing a field, eating a meal, drinking wine, and even going to the bathroom (see Marvin R. Wilson’s book). The key was that most of these prayers were only a sentence long. The reality is that our prayers don’t have to be five minutes long for God to hear us. Sometimes the simplest prayers are the best prayers. If you can only think of a few things to say to God, then say them. God isn’t keeping a tally on how much you pray. He just wants to hear from you.
6. KEEP IT SWEET.
Remember whom you are talking to. While God is the king of the universe, he is also the lover of your soul. One of the reasons that David was a man after God’s own heart was because he was passionate and honest with God. He was open and honest as you can only be with a closest friend. The worst prayer isn’t a long prayer or a prayer said in Old English but a prayer that has no heart. If you aren’t praying out of a love for God, then are you really praying? The reality is that this is the core of all prayer—to seek the face of God and to seek after his heart. Prayer is one of the most intimate times we have with God. Treat it that way.