Sunday was an important reminder about the power of prayer from the life of Hannah in 1 Samuel.
Some people have asked me how they could get started on improving their prayer life. Here are some steps that I would recommend:
1. Ask God to teach you to pray! This may seem strange, but the one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray. And Jesus took it upon himself to answer that prayer and to teach them. We are able to do the same thing today. If you ask God to teach you to pray, he will.
2. Type out your prayers. This may not work for everyone, but I have found that writing out my prayers takes too long, but simply trying to think my prayers goes too fast (and my brain is all over the place). Typing out my prayers is a happy medium. It slows my brain down and allows me to engage more fully in prayer.
3. Pray in paragraphs. One of the most influential things on prayer I read was a sermon by Charles Spurgeon called “Order and Argument in Prayer.” In his sermon, Spurgeon made the point that if you are going into the throne room to ask God for something – come prepared. Lay out a good argument and present it in an orderly manner, just like you would if you were asking your boss for raise. This has helped bring structure to my prayer life. When it is time to pray for my children, I think through what I want to ask God for each child as well as why I am asking for that request. After all, Hannah has thought long and hard about the vow she made to God – give me a son and I will give him back to you. She is giving God her best argument as to why God should answer her prayer.
4. Pray a psalm. Open your Bible to the Psalms and start reading until you find one that seems to be addressed to you and your situation. Or, pray through one each day. Type the lines from the psalm as headers in your prayers and then react to each line. Tell the Lord how you feel. Ask him questions about things you don’t understand. Thank him for the things in the psalm that reveal something to you about God and his grace to us.
There are other things that I could suggest, but these seem like a good first few steps to getting started. What questions might you have about being more serious about prayer that I could answer here?