I read a story of a man who encountered a bit of trouble while flying his airplane. He called the control tower and said, "Pilot to tower, I'm 300 miles from the airport, six hundred feet above the ground, and I'm out of fuel. I am descending rapidly…. Please advise. Over." "Tower to pilot," the dispatcher began, "Repeat after me: "Our Father Who art in heaven...'"
That’s a funny story but, seriously prayer is an untapped resource, for Christians. Prayer is talked about more than anything else, in the church, and practiced less than anything else. And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gifts our Lord has given us outside of salvation.
To say prayer is communication with God is correct but that is really an oversimplification.
- Prayer is the sincere desire of our souls expressed to God.
- Prayer is what allows us to establish intimacy with the Creator.
- Prayer creates an awareness of God’s constant nearness to his people.
- Prayer is also how unbelievers, recognizing their sinful nature and need for salvation, reach out by faith to receive God’s gift of eternal life.
- Prayer is the expression of praise to God
As essential as we know prayer to be, we may still struggle to pursue the vibrant prayer life which we recognize we need. Sometimes we can all use a little fresh inspiration to pray, whether we’re seasoned prayer warriors or new “spiritual cadets.” On that note, here are some ways to amp up your prayer life:
Guard Your Relationship with God
For a powerful prayer life, we must guard our hearts against things that can blur our relationship with God. Unrighteousness hinders prayer.
Psalms 66:18 AMP If I regard sin and baseness in my heart [that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it], The Lord will not hear [me];
Proverbs 28:9 AMP
He who turns his ear away from listening to the law [of God and man], Even his prayer is repulsive [to God].
Scripture even says that a husband’s attitude toward his wife affects his prayer.
1 Peter 3:7 AMP In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman. Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective.
On the other hand, Scripture reminds us that it is the prayer of a righteous person that has power.
James 5:16 AMP Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power] (emphasis mine).
Proverbs 15:8, 29 AMP The sacrifice of the wicked is hateful and exceedingly offensive to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight! The Lord is far from the wicked [and distances Himself from them], But He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous [that is, those with spiritual integrity and moral courage]. (emphasis mine)
Psalms 34:15 AMP The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous [those with moral courage and spiritual integrity] And His ears are open to their cry.
This doesn’t mean that we can manipulate God into answering prayers the way we want him to, simply by being on our ‘best behavior.’ It’s never good to try to bargain with God, because in bargaining we get to set the parameters of the deal, not God. When God makes a covenant, He sets the terms, and they are always non-negotiable. God says, "This is what I will do for you; here is what you will do." There is no bargaining. What God has promised is not in doubt and what we are to do is not in doubt; whether we do it is another matter, but there’s no bargaining.
Try Different Types of Prayer
In Scripture you will find examples of several types of prayers. There are prayers of:
This type of prayer is focused on worshiping the Lord out of deep love, respect, and admiration. These prayers come from a place of genuine awe of who the Lord is and all that he does.
Psalms 148:13 AMP Let them praise the name of the Lord, For His name alone is exalted and supreme; His glory and majesty are above earth and heaven.
Start each day with a prayer of thanksgiving. Prayers of gratitude are prompted by answered prayer, deliverance, recognition of how good and merciful God is, or simply because we have been given another day of life.
1 Chronicles 16:34 AMP O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness endures forever.
Psalms 118:24 NKJV This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Confessing our sins is a significant way to pray as followers of Jesus. Often, Jesus called those he interacted with to confess their sins and sin no more.
Psalms 32:5 AMP I acknowledged my sin to You, And I did not hide my wickedness; I said, “I will confess [all] my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
When a believer sincerely confesses their sin God promises to forgive them.
1 John 1:9 AMP If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].
We pray for physical restoration, spiritual wholeness, or emotional wounds. A big part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was healing those who were physically ill. The Bible affirms that we can come to God asking for all kinds of healing.
Jeremiah 17:14 AMP Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise.
James 5:13-15 AMP Is anyone among you suffering? He must pray. Is anyone joyful? He is to sing praises [to God]. Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Isaiah 53:5 AMP But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.
When we are facing challenges, hardships, or oppression, we find ourselves praying for deliverance and breakthrough. We pray for help because God is the one who can help and deliver us in ways no one else ever could.
Psalms 107:6 AMP Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He rescued them from their distresses.
Psalms 32:7 AMP You are my hiding place; You, Lord, protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah.
Psalms 34:4 AMP I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
Praying for others is a crucial part of being part of the body of Christ. The Bible instructs us to pray for one another and to intercede on someone else’s behalf. Jesus prayed for others in his final hours before being arrested.
John 17:6-21 AMP “I have manifested Your name [and revealed Your very self, Your real self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept and obeyed Your word. Now [at last] they know [with confident assurance] that all You have given Me is from You [it is really and truly Yours]. For the words which You gave Me I have given them; and they received and accepted them and truly understood [with confident assurance] that I came from You [from Your presence], and they believed [without any doubt] that You sent Me. I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and [all things that are] Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; yet they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and protected them, and not one of them was lost except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I am coming to You; and I say these things [while I am still] in the world so that they may experience My joy made full and complete and perfect within them [filling their hearts with My delight]. I have given to them Your word [the message You gave Me]; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world and do not belong to the world, just as I am not of the world and do not belong to it. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth. Just as You commissioned and sent Me into the world, I also have commissioned and sent them (believers) into the world. For their sake I sanctify Myself [to do Your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth. “I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me.
The apostle Paul wrote of how he often kept other Christians and new believers in his prayers.
Colossians 1:9-12 AMP For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints (God’s people) in the Light.
As followers of Jesus, we want to live like him, live according to his ways, and enter into a lifelong process of sanctification. We should pray for this type of transformation in our hearts, minds, and lives.
Psalms 139:23-24 AMP Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Romans 12:2 AMP And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
Philippians 2:5-7 ESV Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Try Both Scheduled and Spontaneous Prayer
Another biblical way to amp up our prayer lives to the fullest is to practice both “scheduled” and “spontaneous” prayer. Scheduled prayer time refers to that quiet time each day we set aside for meeting with God.
Matthew 6:5-6 AMP “Also, when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray [publicly] standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets so that they may be seen by men. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, they [already] have their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.
Jesus may have had a scheduled prayer time as scripture record that Jesus often spent time alone in prayer.
Luke 5:16 AMP But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion].
Luke 6:12 AMP Now at this time Jesus went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
Spontaneous prayer, on the other hand, reflects an ongoing attitude of directing our thoughts to God. By turning whatever, we’re thinking, feeling, or doing into prayer, we answer the Bible’s call to pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 AMP Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Practice Both Personal and Partnered Prayer
While the Bible affirms personal prayer times to be an indispensable part of walking with God, Scripture also highlights the value of praying with other believers. Look through the book of Acts, and you’ll notice how often major events, miracles, and growth in the early church occurred in the context of believers praying together.
Ways to amp up your prayer life with others include attending prayer meetings, praying with family, joining a small group or like Christ Church Los Angeles a Bible study group which prays, or a dedicated season of corporate prayer.
Acts 1:12-14 AMP Then the disciples returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (Olive Grove), which is near Jerusalem, [only] a Sabbath day’s journey (less than one mile) away. When they had entered the city, they went upstairs to the upper room where they were staying [indefinitely]; that is, Peter, and John and [his brother] James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael) and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (Thaddaeus) the son of James. All these with one mind and one purpose were continually devoting themselves to prayer, [waiting together] along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Acts 2:41-42 AMP So then, those who accepted his message were baptized; and on that day about 3,000 souls were added [to the body of believers]. They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers.
Acts 12:12 AMP When he realized what had happened, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, who was also called Mark, where many [believers] were gathered together and were praying continually [and had been praying all night].
Acts 4:23-26, 31 AMP After Peter and John were released, they returned to their own [people] and reported everything that the chief priests and elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “O Sovereign Lord [having complete power and authority], it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David, Your servant, said, ‘Why did the nations (Gentiles) become arrogant and rage, And the peoples devise futile things [against the Lord]? The kings of the earth took their stand [to attack], And the rulers were assembled together Against the Lord and against His Anointed (the Christ, the Messiah).’ And when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken [a sign of God’s presence]; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage.
Combine Prayer with Worship and Scripture Study
Whether alone or with friends, another way to steep your life in prayer is to listen to God- centred worship music. If the lyrics are directed toward God, then the song itself becomes a type of prayer. Listening to ‘prayer-style’ worship songs—or letting them play in our heads— allows part of our minds to pray even while we’re engaged in other tasks.
We can incorporate worship into our prayer times by praying through the Psalms. Instead of simply reading psalms to ourselves, we direct the words toward God or compose our own related prayers based on the concepts we’re reading. We can do this with other portions of Scripture too, infusing opportunities for prayer into our regular Bible reading.
Combine Prayer with Fasting
Another spiritual discipline to power up our prayer lives is fasting. He modeled this discipline in the wilderness to before beginning his ministry.
Luke 4:1-2 AMP Now Jesus, full of [and in perfect communication with] the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, He was hungry.
Scripture also suggests that prayer and fasting unlock a door to certain spiritual issues.
Mark 9:29 AMP He replied to them, “This kind [of unclean spirit] cannot come out by anything but prayer [to the Father].”
We also see the church fasting and praying before appointing ministry leaders.
Acts 13:1-3 AMP Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets [who spoke a new message of God to the people] and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod [Antipas] the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them [in approval and dedication] and sent them away [on their first journey].
Acts 14:23 AMP When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they believed [and joyfully accepted as the Messiah].
Find What Works for You
Find what works for you and enjoy the new level of intimacy with God that results.
He might just revolutionize your life.