As I’ve talked to others about prayer on my blog over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time making it more palatable. I’ve tried to emphasize how it can fit into our busy lives. I’ve talked about prayer on the go. I’ve comforted the busy mom with toddlers who has trouble spending more than two consecutive minutes talking to God.
That’s not to say two minutes of prayer is a waste. It just means we shouldn’t come with faulty expectations and then, when they’re not met, use them as the excuse to quit that we were looking for.
If we were sitting together, I’d look in your eyes and express to you how important it is that you keep praying and do not give up. I know you know that, but so much in our world wants to keep us from persevering in prayer. We need the reminders.
We can experience lives that are full of God’s presence, responses, and miracles. We can be part of his Kingdom work and be the ones who constantly point people to him. But we need to put in the time.
We’re always going to have a valid reason not to pray, but an intimate prayer life will remain a mirage until we admit the changes we need to make as we pursue Jesus.
I want to be the person who doesn’t “grow weary of doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Who prays “at all times” and who “keep[s] alert with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18). Who has such a sweet rhythm of prayer that calluses develop.
Through prayer, we can be involved in Kingdom work that we’d never be able to do in person. We might have no expertise at building schools, but we can pray for those who are expanding education in remote places. We might have no experience changing laws or healing diseases, but through prayer, we can be actively involved in work God is doing to bring justice and show mercy through medicine. The reach we can experience through prayer is incredible.
Take action. Decide right now what you want to change about your prayer life.
- Grab a friend to take the journey with you.
Having a friend who’s chasing after the same goals makes it easier to stay committed. It’s why the fittest people are often surrounded by other fit people. Our habits rub off on one another. Imagine doing life with a few friends who constantly ask what they could lift up in prayer for you—friends who, when the hard conversations or the tears come, react first by praying. We’re going to have hard moments when we want to give up. I’ve had those seasons where praying felt almost impossible, and I coveted the prayers of others over me that I could echo. Do this with someone. Don’t feel awkward asking. You might just be the answered prayer they’ve been waiting for. (The Val Marie Paper community is a great supplementary resource online, but we highly recommend going on this journey with someone in your everyday life.)
- Figure out your heaviest weights.
Throughout this book we’ve looked at weight after weight that can keep us from running free in prayer. As you read through the chapters, which weight resonated the most? Which ones felt the hardest to shake? Share them with your prayer friends, and ask the Lord to help you remove those weights. Then take the practical steps forward that we mentioned in the book.
- Study the prayer life of Jesus.
The Gospels are filled with beautiful examples of Jesus escaping from the world to pray. He threw off the weights that could have easily entangled him, and often he chose quiet moments with God over the spotlight or sleep. Learn from his teaching on prayer too, as we talked about in chapter 2, reading it in context of everything he taught.
- Keep learning.
I love that you’re reading this book right now, and I encourage you to read other books on prayer. If the topic is on our minds, there’s a better chance we’ll remember to do it. More knowledge about prayer will also build your confidence. If you’ve still got lots of questions, talk with a trusted friend or pastor.
- Make prayer visible.
Prayer is always available to us, but it’s also invisible, meaning that we can easily forget about it. This is why goal experts encourage people to make their goals visible. When you can physically be reminded of your goals—perhaps by listing them on a paper taped to your refrigerator or on your desk—you will naturally think of your goals more often. One way to make prayer visible is to write down your prayers in a prayer journal and record your answers. I love our prayer journals at valmariepaper.com, but really, just get something that works for you and will remind you to pray. You could also use an index card with prayers on it as a bookmark, or tape a prayer to your bathroom mirror.
- Remember the benefits of consistent prayer.
The benefits are extravagant. In the breakout box below, I’ve shared several that can remind you in those moments when it feels like you’re just talking to the ceiling. So much is happening behind the scenes that we cannot see! Prayer is so worth it, and this list can keep you encouraged.
- Make an actual commitment.
I love this quote that’s often attributed to Karen Lamb: “A year from now, you will wish you had started today.” Commit today. Write out a prayer, and tell the Lord what you are committing to. Is it a regular practice of fasting? Is it more confession? Is it a specific amount of prayer or a new prayer routine at a certain time each day? Invite God in as you commit to growing in your most important conversation.
What happens next in your prayer story? For too long, I’ve felt like I was destined for the same song but second verse of prayer failure. What changes all that is knowing that the things weighing us down in prayer don’t have to be permanent. And the Lord is ready and willing to help us. Are we ready to throw off every hindrance? When we throw off the weight of the journey and avoid giving up too soon, we experience the fruit of a thriving prayer life.
Adapted from Pray Confidently and Consistently: Finally Let Go of the Things Holding You Back from Your Most Important Conversation by Valerie Woerner. Copyright ©2021. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Valerie Woerner’s mission is to help women live intentional lives that are an outflow of a fruitful, focused prayer life. She is the author of Pray Confidently and Consistently, Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, Springboard Prayers and The Finishing School and the owner of Val Marie Paper, where she designs prompted prayer journals and other practical products that eliminate distraction and increase focus in prayer. Valerie lives in Lafayette, Louisiana with her husband, Tyler, and their two daughters. Visit her online shop at valmariepaper.com.