Praying: Tips & Tricks

20161229_praying

2016 is almost in the books. 2017 is just days away. A new year is always a good time for a fresh start (but so is any day, for instance, December 29!), so I decided to take a couple weeks to discuss some tips on developing good habits.

Last week we discussed Bible reading tips & tricks. We talked about everything from where to start and some tools to use to some ways to avoid distractions and the role of technology in Bible reading.

One of the main things to keep in mind is what I mentioned last week, but is worth mentioning again:

It’s time to train.

Paul commands Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7 to “train yourself for godliness.” In his book, Disciplines of a Godly Man, Kent Hughes describes the word “train,” as “a word with the smell of the gym in it – the sweat of a good workout. ‘Gymnasticize (exercise, work out, train) yourself for the purpose of godliness’ conveys the feel of what Paul is saying.”

In other words: plan it, have great intentions, and make huge resolutions, but if you don’t put some sanctified sweat into it, nothing will change. (tweet this)

When it comes to praying daily, here are some things to keep in mind:

Both And

Prayer should be BOTH a regular set aside time AND an ongoing conversation. Both are important. Jesus did both. The Gospels say He regularly made time to get alone and pray. Jesus also prayed conversationally throughout the day with the Father. Make some sit-down prayer time a habit, but don’t stop there – keep the conversation rolling throughout the day.

Journal

I wasn’t always a journaler, but decided to try it about 6 years ago. I was in a really rough season after the first year of church planting, and decided to write down what I was praying for. I’ve stuck with it ever since. Journaling works a few ways:

  1. Spiritually, it’s a big help because it helps me put thoughts on paper and track how God has answered prayer.
  2. Practically, it keeps me organized. I write down things and people to pray for daily, ongoing lists of things to pray for, as well as pages filled with thoughts and prayers.

Scratch Paper

I talked about the practical use of a pen and scratch paper last week in my blog about Bible reading, but the same idea works during prayer as well. Inevitably, as you’re trying to focus on talking to God, 100 other thoughts come to your mind. A piece of paper gives you an opportunity to write the thing down, then forget about it and get back to prayer.

Small and Big

There’s nothing too small to pray about, and there is certainly nothing too big. Prayer should be both. It goes without saying that you should be praying about lots of seemingly small, daily events in your life, but God isn’t intimidated by your big requests either. There should be things you’re praying for that may never happen in your lifetime. There should also be things you’re praying for that can’t possibly happen unless God intervenes!

Push through the awkwardness.

I get it. Praying can feel awkward. You can’t see God, so where do you look? How should you sit? What do you do with your hands? My advice: BE YOURSELF. God sees you and knows the real you, so talk to Him as you are. Don’t try to come up with big theological words or do things that feel unnatural. Use your words, your slang, your thoughts, and pour out your heart. God wants to talk to you, not someone you think He’ll be impressed by. (tweet this)

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