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How to Improve Your Life by Praying

spirituality Feb 07, 2023
Woman praying in faith

Welcome to the second part of our series about improving your life! Last month, we learned that it’s important to adjust our heart attitudes in order to have a better life.

There are three ways we need to adjust our heart attitudes. The first one is one is to rejoice – being joyful or delighted. And this month we’re going to look at the second heart attitude that needs to be adjusted – praying.

Here’s a reminder of our anchor verse for this series from 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Christ Jesus for you.”

Notice that Paul says to pray without ceasing! Without ceasing, huh? That sounds like a tall order. To help illustrate how tall of an order this is, let’s look at similar words and phrases for “cease”.

  • Come to an end, halt, or stop
  • Conclude
  • Terminate
  • Finish
  • Wind up
  • Draw to a close
  • Be over
  • Come to a standstill
  • Pause
  • Break off
  • Peter out
  • Fizzle out

WOW! We’re to do none of those when it comes to prayer. But, if I can have a moment of transparency, I have done them. Often. I’ve halted, fizzled out, petered out, and stopped praying! Have you?

In this month’s look at heart attitudes, we’re going to dig into our own attitudes towards prayer, what causes disruptions to our prayer life, and how we can build the muscle to pray without ceasing.

Attitudes to Prayer

What we believe in our hearts affects everything. Including prayer.

So, it’s worthwhile to have a moment of honest examination into our hearts and our attitudes towards prayer. I don’t believe we’re able to attain perfection in our attitudes, but we should examine where, along a spectrum, we are.

Our attitudes to prayer can run from disbelief in the need for it and its power, all the way to 100% unadulterated faith in the need and power of prayer. And there are branches along this continuum.

For example, our attitude about praying can be really high when it comes to our children. But at the same time really low when it comes to our finances. Let me break that down a little more.

We might really believe that God will protect and care for our children. Most likely because we’ve seen proof of what He can and will do. But our experience with finances may not be the same. Therefore, our belief that God will positively impact our finances might be low. We’ve not seen proof.

It’s easy for us to pray for what we have proof of, and harder to pray for which there’s no proof. But Jesus reminds us:

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:29

Something else that affects our attitudes towards prayer is our belief in our own abilities. When our talents and abilities are strong in an area, we may feel less of a need to pray. But the prophet Zechariah tells us:

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit”, says the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 4:6

What comes to mind for you when you think about our attitudes to prayer?

If you were to draw out your own continuum of attitude, what would be your high and low points towards prayer?

 

Disruptions to Praying

Even if our attitudes towards prayer are good, disruptions can still happen! Hello, life.

The fact that Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing lets us know that we should expect to have challenges in this area. This reminder to do it without ceasing is like the yellow flag, waving, to let us know there are hazards ahead as it relates to our prayer life. It’s a warning to be on the lookout for disruptions so that we don’t get completely thrown off course.

One of the biggest disruptions that comes to mind is busyness. Especially in our 21st-century society. I don’t know about you, but as soon as my eyes open in the morning, it’s easy to start running down the list of to-do’s. And when those to-do’s have a sense of urgency, the quiet and still time of prayer can easily fall to the wayside. This is especially sneaky when our to-do’s center around doing good works for the Lord!

Then there are obligations. Especially when we have obligations as a spouse, parent, caregiver, first-responder, a pastor, a chaplain, and more. The obligations of helping and supporting, loving and caring, and being available can easily disrupt our prayer life.

Other disruptions include major life events or changes. These can be positive such as the birth of a baby, a new job, or a new home. They can also be negative. As in the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or sickness. It seems like events or changes that disrupt our normal pattern of life can also disrupt our prayer life.

And then there’s the sneaky lack of faith. Somewhere along the way, maybe life has chipped away at our faith and we find ourselves unwilling to pray any longer. Or maybe we try to pray, but we don’t feel a connection to God. And we can’t form the words. So, we start to give up.

Finally, we can’t leave out you-know-who. The sneaky enemy to our souls. Yes, he’s always at work to disrupt our prayer life. And sometimes it’s simple spiritual warfare that might be showing up in the ways above.

Building Your Prayer Muscle

But in spite of our attitudes and all of the many items that can disrupt our prayer life, we have hope! Our first hope is that God tells us in His Word to “pray without ceasing”. This lets us know that it’s possible! We’re not doomed to the many attacks, distractions, and our own attitudes. We can grow stronger in prayer.

But how? Here’s a simple list:

Consistency and flexibility

I’ve gotten to the point in life that I’m understanding that consistency is extremely important. I used to try to accomplish a lot at once and complete a task quickly. Now I’m learning to value the blessing of slowly chipping away at something over time.

This same thought can help us with building our prayer muscle. Focus on praying every day, even if it’s just for five minutes. If possible, try doing it at the same time of day (right after a shower, before bed, etc.). The practice of daily prayer over time will create a pathway in our brains so that it becomes habitual and there’s less resistance to it.

While we’re building consistency, we also have to be flexible. Sometimes we’re too rigid in prayer! Is that possible? Yes! We may get into a routine where we pray only at the same time, in the same place, and in the same posture. God may want you to try something new (see #3 below).

Believe that you’re not praying alone

When we’re at points in our lives where it’s hard to pray because we can’t form the words or we don’t feel a connection, it’s important to remind ourselves that we do not pray alone! The Holy Spirit is with us! Romans 8:26

Sometimes our prayers during a season like this may need to be very simple: “Lord, help.” “Holy Spirit, pray for me.” “Jesus.”

We can couple this simple prayer with being still and quiet. And let the Holy Spirit pray for us.

Trying different forms

We might need to breathe a little freshness in our prayer life. If our prayers are beginning to sound like Easter speeches and we’re feeling dry and disconnected, it might be time for something new.

Here’s a short article with 7 ways to pray.

Trying different forms of prayer can help expand our understanding of God. Perhaps God is wanting us to expand our understanding of Him. When we approach prayer differently, He might ignite a new fire into our prayer life!

While praying without ceasing sounds like a tall order, and it is, we can take hope and be comforted. God helps us to grow in this area and through His strength our heart attitude towards prayer can change!

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