Prayer is fundamental to the Christian life. Without it, it’s unlikely we will experience the abundant presence of Jesus (John 10:10). Scripture encourages us to “pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request” (Ephesians 6:18). Though it should be a priority for every believer, I’ve found that it’s easy to become stagnant in prayer. Supplications can become short, and praise can become stale. To be prayer warriors, we have to work to grow. I once had a Christian mentor encourage me in this. He said, “Prayer can be like an exercise routine. You have to work at it. You have to be disciplined, and you have to strive to get better.” Consider four ways we can improve.
It may seem simplistic, but prayer is one of the most surefire ways to grow in this devotion. Pray about your prayers. This principle is seen in Luke’s gospel. On one occasion, Jesus’ disciples approached Him asking, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The question was asked after the twelve observed our Lord praying. Apparently, there was something powerful about His private worship. In response, Jesus issued what is commonly known as “the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4). He gave His followers a model and outline for daily intercession. The episode teaches us a lesson — if we will ask for God’s help, He will answer. His Spirit will teach us (Romans 8:26). If you want to grow in your prayer life, pray about the matter.
Get Some Prayer Partners.
I have friends with whom I pray on a regular basis. Such scheduled times of fellowship do a lot to build my passion. Scripture says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). The axiom can be applied to supplications. When we pray with others, we receive encouragement to not give up. The prayers of others can do something to stoke our own spiritual fires. In addition, prayer partners can help provide accountability. One of my friends asks me weekly about my prayer life. Such accountability motivates me. It is for good reason that the early church regularly prayed with one another (Acts 2:42 and 4:29-31). Public praying can light a fire for perseverance in private praying.
Be Time Sensitive.
Nowadays, time is one of our most cherished commodities. For many, it is more valuable than money. Many complain of being busy, of not having enough time for things that matter most. This is especially true when it comes to prayer. Cries concerning the clock are perhaps the most popular of excuses. When we read Scripture, we find that the Bible has much to say about this issue and the way it relates to prayer. Jesus Himself modeled a discipline of scheduling prayer into His daily calendar (Mark 1:35). Such a commitment was important for the Lord, because He was very busy (Mark 1:36).
Be Ready for Opposition.
William Cowper has often been quoted as saying, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint on his knees.” If that statement is true, we can expect all types of opposition to prayer. All hell seems to be unleashed when we get serious about supplications. It is for this reason that Jesus encouraged us “to pray always and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
Dr. Patrick Latham