"If you have a greater prayer life, you can have greater Kingdom influence for God." - Dave Earley
As we enter the final week of our 30 Days of prayer initiative, I'd like to leave you with some simple, practical, and highly effective methods for taking prayer more seriously this year.
As you read this list, I'd like to challenge you to pick one of the best practices below and practice doing it this week. Start small. Bring someone with you and practice it together maybe? Whatever you choose know this:
Nothing of eternal significance ever happens without prayer.
Eternity is at stake; let's pray like it!
1. Prayer & Fasting
At some point this week sit down and read Matthew 6. Not only will you see Jesus' answer to his disciples about how to pray, but you'll also read Jesus' words on fasting. Notice that it doesn't say "if you fast" but "when you fast". This should be the first clue about fasting: we should practice doing it.
There are many different types of fasts and usually there are multiple reasons for fasting. The key to fasting for spiritual reasons is to deny ourselves something, whether it be food, social media, or entertainment, for the intentional purpose of seeking greater intimacy with Jesus for a set amount of time. Personally, I've done fasts from food when I'm seeking direction on a major life decision or if I feel the need to simply deny my physical body the satisfaction it craves so that I learn to crave Jesus more. I've also done a 30 day fast from all social media. I'll be the first to tell you that if you've never done this, it was worth it!
In summary, decide what you're fasting from and set an amount of time you'll fast from it. Then be very intentional about replacing the time you'd normally spend on the thing you're fasting from with Jesus.
2. Prayer Walking & Prayer Driving
As ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and everywhere we go we bring the Kingdom ethic with us....hopefully.
One of the easiest ways to amp up your prayer life and to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is by simply taking a walk and praying while you do it! This could be at work (taking a lap around the office and silently praying) or it could be walking a few blocks around your own neighborhood. The point is to pray for those you know (or don't know) to come to faith in Christ. If you know of specific needs, you can pray specifically.
One time, after a shooting in a neighborhood right here in Salt Lake City, our church gathered on that street corner to pray for the neighborhood. This was our attempt to minister to the felt needs of the community in that moment, and show our community we're not only engaged in what's going on there, but that we care deeply about seeing the Kingdom of God ruling and reigning there.
Another easy method to amp up your prayer life is to practice prayer driving. Pastor Bryan and I do this all the time. We intentionally drive through neighborhoods of our church, or around places in our city that are on our heart, and we simply pray over them. You can also pray about anything you want as you commute to and from work each morning. What an incredible opportunity to use those minutes for something of eternal value, rather than wasting them on listening to sports radio or yelling at bad drivers.
3. Prayer Journal
One of the best habits I've picked up from Pastor Bryan is the use of a prayer journal. This is simply a notebook of any kind, paper or electronic, where you write down the names of every person you know that needs prayer. Obviously, this isn't just a journal for those who need salvation in Christ but it's also a journal for those who are following Christ but need your prayers!
I literally have hundreds of names of people I've met in coffee shops, restaurants, at outreach events, or names of people in my family that need Jesus. While I don't pray for every single name every day, I do pray for a few every day and over the course of a year, I'll pray for all of them multiple times. The best part about this practice is when you're praying for someone to come to salvation in Christ and they do and you get to cross their name off and write the date that they were saved!
You may be the only person who is praying for someone. Let's be faithful to stand in the gap for them and watch what God will do!
4. Prayer Retreats
Often in the gospels we see Jesus getting alone to pray to the Father. At face value this may seem normal, as we are all called to pray. But Jesus was divine...yet he still felt the need to get away from the busy ministry He was doing to pray to the Father. (Matthew 4:1-11, 17:1-9, Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12)
If Jesus felt the need to get away and pray, how much more should you and I?
Once a month I take a personal retreat day (PRD). I have been doing this for years and it has proven to be one of the most meaningful and helpful ministry rhythms I have. On these PRD's I spend a lot of time simply praying. I thank God for who He is, what He's done, and I also lay out my worries, concerns, hopes, and dreams to him as well. I spend time listening in silence. I read the Bible and meditate on what God may be saying to me that day. Sometimes I journal my prayers and write down answers to prayers I've received lately. The point of any PRD is to refuel by being filled up with Jesus.
Whatever your schedule looks like you can make an intentional effort to get alone with God and pray. The only question is when will you do it and how often? (John 15:1-5)
5. Pray Scripture
This is a very simple yet highly effective method to amp up your prayer life. Take a passage of Scripture and simply begin praying through it. Turn the passage into your prayer. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 are a great place to start. Meditate on questions like: What does this verse teach me? Does this verse prompt a prayer of thankfulness? What area of my life is not in submission to the timeless principle found in this verse/passage?
6. Corporate Prayer
One of the most unifying experiences in our faith family is when we are praying together for someone or something. As Christians, we're all on this journey together and we all need each other. When we come together to pray united prayers, unity is cultivated and I'm convinced that God is pleased with us as we lay aside our agenda and press into His.
If you're a part of the Redeeming Life Church family, we gather corporately for prayer every Sunday morning at 10am. We call this House of Prayer.
We pray together for one another and even lay hands on people who are taking steps of faith, or struggling to overcome a particular trial, or they're about to be sent off to be a missionary in another context, locally or globally. Prayer is powerful and effective, especially when God's people are humble, united, and focused on bringing glory to Him.