It is just another little reminder from our Creator that He’s made us to be in fellowship with Him. We can drown out that call when life is sunshine and roses, but when life takes us out at the knees, well, that’s when our souls remember we need God.
That stability and peace of mind is one thing that Christians cite as a benefit of their faith. And prayer plays a big part in that. It’s an integral part of the Christian life. Interestingly, though America is solidly a praying nation with 79 percent praying regularly and 55 percent praying daily, many of those who do pray (over 70 percent) report being less than satisfied with their prayer life. Even seasoned Christians struggle with prayer.
I understand struggling with prayer. It is not something that comes naturally for me. I have to work at it, both in consistency and in substance. People all the time tell me they see me as a great prayer warrior, but I'm not. I just muddle along as best as anyone.
Over the years I’ve tried several different methods and techniques to increase the consistency and the substance of my prayer. Here are some of the practices I currently do or have done in the past:
1) For years I journaled and wrote my prayers out by hand. It helped me stay focused. It took a lot of time, though, so as life got more complicated (i.e. children) I found it unsustainable.
2) I have been setting alarms for prayer for a couple of years now. I set an alarm for a specific time of day and pray for something specific when the alarm goes off. The focus of those prayers has ranged from prayer for a specific request given me by another to prayer for political leaders to prayer for salvation. Currently I have committed to pray daily for the salvation of a loved one until it happens or until I die. That's a pretty big commitment, but I really feel passionately about it. Still, I know myself, and I knew I would forget or peter out which is why I've been using an alarm. It keeps me accountable.
3) I've used various books over the years to help focus my prayers and make them deeper. My favorites are by Stormie O'Martin: Power of a Praying Wife and Power of a Praying Mother. These books helped me learn how to pray Scripture and gave me areas to pray for my family that I might not have considered otherwise. I would like to write my own someday, but for now I heartily recommend those.
4) I also feel like it's so important to pray beyond our family. Some years I have focused on praying for America (president, Congress, local leaders, and issues, etc.) and used the alarm on my phone system for that. Some years I have prayed for the nations using YWAM's guide. For several years I prayed for our pastors and my neighbors, using an index card system. This year I am praying for persecuted Christians using a guide put out by Voice of the Martyrs. Over the years I've involved my kids in this by tying our prayer focus to our homeschooling (praying for America when studying American history for example). It has been such a great way for them to learn how to pray in general (especially losing the timidity of praying aloud with others) and how to pray beyond what they want for themselves.
5) When people ask me to pray for them, I often stop and pray with them right then and there. That's because I know that more often than not I'll forget to pray for them later. It's a bit awkward and takes some getting used to, but most people appreciate it. And that way I don't have to feel guilty if I do, indeed, forget. At very least I have agreed with them in faith at least once.
All this being said, I still very much struggle with offering up general or half-hearted prayers. I struggle with being selfish in my prayers, with getting distracted while I pray, and with doubting that God will answer certain prayers. Still, I press on, and I hope that by sharing my struggles and my ideas I can encourage you to press on as well.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call in him in truth. –Ps. 145:18
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Aimee Fuhrman is a full-time homeschooling mother of four (some of whom are now grown) who moonlights as an author. She loves Jesus, encouraging others, books, knitting, and coming up with delicious allergy-friendly recipes. She lives at the foothills of the Colorado Rockies with her husband of 25 years and their brood.