I know very few people who don’t struggle with prayer. Sometimes we try to fix this problem by seeking to become a prayer warrior overnight. A better approach is to build your prayer life one step at a time. Here are some simple strategies for increasing your prayer:
- Establish prayer “triggers.” Associate prayer with daily activities, and then develop prayer patterns. For example, you might pray before you turn the ignition on your car or as you cook a meal, clean a room, or walk on the treadmill.
- Use the church bulletin or calendar as a prayer guide. Find the list of scheduled church events for the week, and pray each morning for each day’s activities.
- Develop a “Family Focus” prayer strategy. Each week, focus on a different family in the church. Find out what prayer needs they have, and pray for them.
- Follow the ACTS paradigm. Build a prayer list based on Adoration (praising God for who He is), Confession (admitting sin), Thanksgiving (expressing gratitude) and Supplication (praying for others). The intentionality of this strategy will help you stay focused during prayer.
- Use a “Focused ACTS” strategy for one week. On Monday, adore God throughout the day. On Tuesday, ask God to bring to light all of your sin so you might confess it. Wednesday is for thanksgiving, and Thursday is for supplication/praying for others.
- Do “drive by” praying. Watch for church buildings, and pray for the pastors of those congregations. Intercede for children and teachers as you drive past a school. If you pass a “For Sale” sign in your neighborhood, pray for that family.
- Set some “prayer power points.” A “prayer power point” is a set time each day when you stop to pray. I find it best to set the alarm on my watch, and that reminder calls me away from my desk to pray.
- Pray the “Model Prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13 daily. I don’t want this strategy to become routine and repetitious, but Jesus taught us to pray this prayer. Start each day this way. Pause long enough to meditate on each phrase.
- Pray as you read or listen to the news. Intercede for countries in war. Pray for families affected by crime or natural disasters. Ask God to guide government leaders. Pray for missionaries in each country in the news.
- Send an email prayer to someone each day. Take ten minutes, pray for someone else, and send a written prayer to that person. Just a few sentences of prayer will encourage somebody unexpectedly.
- Pray proactively about temptation before you ever get out of bed in the morning. That’s the way Jesus taught us to pray—ask God to keep us from temptation and the evil one before we’ve ever faced the temptation (Matt 6:13). Don’t wait until the battle heats up to begin praying.
- Pray at least briefly with your spouse each day (or with someone else if you’re single). Even a quick one-minute daily prayer together can strengthen a relationship.
Remember, you won’t become a prayer warrior overnight . . . but start somewhere. Becoming a furnace of prayer begins with just a spark.
Chuck Lawless is Dean of Doctoral Studies and Vice-President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.