How To Improve Your Prayer Life

by Cole Caven
January 6, 2017
As we begin our corporate emphasis on praying for revival, I am confident many of you share the same feelings I once had. At one point in my life, if anyone asked me to spend more than a period of five minutes of concerted prayer, I probably would have thought they were crazy. Apart from intentional evangelistic gospel conversations with unbelievers, prayer is by far the one area of our lives in need of a serious overhaul. Yet, many of us desire to see our prayer lives improved but find it hard to do so.
If I asked you to spend 15-20 minutes of prayer daily, you probably would say, “Preacher, you are crazy.” Truth be told, I am crazy about a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them. How would you spend 15-20 minutes of prayer a day? How would you keep your focus? What would you say? These are most likely the questions running through your mind. Those were the same questions running through my mind when my seminary professor told our class to intentionally spend 15-20 minutes daily in prayer. But what He told me after that was nothing short of life-changing for me. So I wish to share with your some insights that have drastically improved my prayer life…

Be Consistent

One of the keys to improving your prayer life is simply being consistent. Find a time that works best for you. Some like the morning time before they scurry off to work. Some like the evening time when everything calms down before bed. Personally, I find the mid-afternoon is a fairly effective time for me to devote myself in prayer. On a typical week, my mornings are usually filled with shut-in & hospital visits. While my evenings are filled with meetings of various kinds and vital family time with Leanna and Zane. So, I usually find a quiet spot after lunch-time around 1:30-2:30 where I focus my energy on communing with the Lord in prayer. I have done both morning & evening prayer times, and find neither all that great for me. Maybe something like a mid-afternoon prayer time will work in your schedule. Maybe an early morning or late evening time will suit your better. The time is not really the key. The key is to find a time in your day that works best for you and be consistent. Protect it. There are a thousand different things your could be doing that are important. But nothing is more important than talking with your Heavenly Father. So, protect the time you set aside for prayer. 

Use a Prayer Journal

The second key to improving your prayer life is the use of a prayer journal. It does have to be anything fancy. It can be a ring-bound paper notebook or it can be a file stuff away in your notes on your phone. The idea here is to keep a log of the things you are praying for. It can be as detailed as you would want it to be. It can be as simple as you want it to be. The greatest thing about using a prayer journal is it’s a great way of noticing the unseen hand of God at work in your life. Because of the hustle of life, most of us forget more things than we realize. A prayer journal helps you to see how God has answered your prayers in the past which will serve to fuel your persistence in prayer in the presence. Just a few weeks ago, I was looking back in my prayer journal from entries just a few years. I suddenly found myself brought to tears of gratitude for how the Lord had brought me through certain situations and had used those same situtations for His own glory. Some of my best prayer times are spent in moments of adoration and thanksgiving to God for his provision for past struggles. It happens all because of the prayer journal.

Pray the Scripture

The third key to improving your prayer life is using scripture to guide your prayers. This is the one thing that has dramatically changed my prayer life. The one thing I found to be true in my life was I would pray for the same old things all the time. And like many of you, I found myself brought to boredom really fast. I mean let’s be honest, the one thing we dread about prayer is it seems like mindless repetition. But when I was taught to pray through the scripture it was really an awakening for me. Basically, what you do is you take a text of scripture and you make the thoughts of the text your own thoughts. It isn’t a time to do in-depth bible study of the passage. You just simply take the thoughts of the text and pray for yourself. You pray that your life would reflect the truths contained within the text. You can use virtually any text in the Bible to do this, but I have found the best place to start praying the scripture is in the Psalms. Most of them are either prayers themselves, or songs of adoration or lament to God. I would invite you to start there. These days, I have a schedule, given to me by a seminary professor, where you pray through the Psalms in an entire year. 

But you may still be asking how do you pray the scripture. I have included a small example from my professors book to illustrate how it’s done…

“You decide to pray through a psalm, and you choose Psalm 23. You read the first verse—“ The LORD is my shepherd”— and you pray something like this:
Lord, I thank you that you are my shepherd. You’re a good shepherd. You have shepherded me all my life. And, great Shepherd, please shepherd my family today: guard them from the ways of the world; guide them into the ways of God. Lead them not into temptation; deliver them from evil. O great Shepherd, I pray for my children; cause them to be your sheep. May they love you as their shepherd, as I do. And, Lord, please shepherd me in the decision that’s before me about my future. Do I make that move, that change, or not? I also pray for our under-shepherds at the church. Please shepherd them as they shepherd us.”
Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (pp. 29-30). Crossway.
As Dr. Whitney illustrated, you are simply taking the thoughts of scripture, and praying for them to become evident in your own life. 

Pray As One

So, as we begin this 7 week journey of prayer for revival & spiritual awakening. I challenge you to incorporate these things into your prayer life. Carve out a time and a place each day for prayer each, and be consistent. Use a prayer journal to keep track of things and people for whom your are praying. Allow your prayers to be guided by scripture. If you notice, the PRAY AS ONE Prayer Guide has a specific scripture each day. Use those scriptures each day as a guide for your prayers. Use the thoughts in the scripture, and the corresponding journal entry, to guide your prayers as you pray for yourself. Let’s allow our prayers impact North Garrard and the world for Jesus Christ!