This month we have been discussing how to develop the discipline of prayer. In episode 181, I shared four requirements of prayer that can be found in the Bible. In episode 182, I busted three myths about prayer.
In the final episode of this series, I will share some practical action steps you can take to help you grow in your prayer life and develop the discipline of prayer.
In episode 182, when talking about myths surrounding prayer, I based my thoughts on Matthew 6:5-8. I mentioned that I would use the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 as a guide for talking about practical ways to pray. And I will do that later in this episode.
But first, before we can get to the practical action steps, we need to prepare. Preparation to pray will go a long way to ensure that we can stay focused and purposeful during our prayer time. Preparation also helps to create a structure that can make it a bit easier to develop the discipline of prayer.
As I mentioned in episode 181, I don’t want us to think of prayer as something we check off our to-do list. It is a discipline, and I guess you could say technically it’s a habit, but it is so much more than just a daily task. So I want to approach what I’m going to share in the rest of this episode from that viewpoint.
Preparing to Pray
So how do we prepare? Well, first, we have to figure out when we will pray. I always suggest looking at your schedule and seeing what the natural flow of your days is like. Once you figure out when you can pray consistently, do what It takes to make sure you actually pray at that time. Set the alarm on your phone or even put it in as an appointment on your calendar to protect the time. Once you do get in the habit of praying at that time and are disciplined to show up to pray, you won’t need reminders any longer. It will just be a natural part of your day.
The second thing we need to do to prepare to pray is clear out all the distractions so we can stay focused. This means if you decide that praying first thing in the morning while sitting on your couch is the best time for you, then do what you need to do to silence your phone, let other family members know not to disturb you at that time, and put aside any other distractions such as clutter that can keep you from focusing. You may realize you need to find a more quiet place to pray.
If you decide that praying on your commute is a good time when you can be consistent, then be sure to turn off your radio and silence your phone so you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
The third thing we need to do to prepare to pray is to gather the resources we may need to facilitate a more productive prayer time. This could include your Bible, Scriptures to pray, prayer lists, or a prayer journal. We’ll talk more about these resources in a moment when we get to the practice of prayer.
So to be prepared for prayer, plan a consistent time to pray, remove any distractions, and gather the resources you need.
The Practice of Prayer
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus left us a model of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.
You’ll notice that Jesus starts by praising God. I think we should do the same. Acknowledge who God is and what He has done in your life. This is more than just thanking Him. It is praising Him. You can look to the Psalms for inspiration on how to praise God.
Jesus goes on to ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. I believe when we pray to ask God to answer specific prayers, we need to do so with the mindset that we want His will to be done in each situation.
“Give us this day our daily bread” is a reminder to pray for the daily things of life. This could mean praying for provision in an area of our life, something we are struggling with on that day, or any situation that arises from our daily life.
Jesus asks God to forgive when we sin. Therefore, we need to ask for forgiveness for our sins when we pray. And did you notice that Jesus is asking for forgiveness in the way we forgive others? So I think this means we need to be willing to forgive others first before we ask God to forgive us.
And the last verse is a plea to keep us from temptation. It is good and right to ask the Lord to protect us from temptation but also to help us when we are tempted.
This reminds me of a couple of acronyms I’ve heard in regard to how to pray. One is called ACTS. It stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Another that is similar is called PRAY. It stands for Praise, Repent, Ask, and Yield.