It is important to pray. People in the Bible prayed. Jesus, the Son of God, prayed. Prayer is an integral part of the Christian life. We can learn a lot about prayer from great men and women of prayer throughout church history. Yet, reading about prayer does not always translate into a life of prayer. Below are a few key principles that will help you get started in a life of prayer.
1. Make a Quality Decision to Pray Daily
If you do not make prayer an uncompromising priority, the devil and the flesh are sure to keep it from becoming a reality. Make prayer your first priority and plan your schedule around it.
2. Set Aside a Regular Time to Pray
Prayer is only possible when you slow down and make time to pray. Find a time that works best for you. Usually the best times for prayer are early in the morning before the day gets busy or late at night when things are winding down. Establishing a regular time to pray helps develop a regular routine of prayer in our lives.
3. Establish a Regular Place to Pray
Finding a regular place to pray is important. Jesus said for us to enter our closet, shut the door, and pray to our Father who is in the secret place. Find a private place that is free from distractions such as other people, television, telephone, etc.
4. Be Prepared for Mental Distractions
Inevitably when we begin to pray, we suddenly remember other things that need to be done. Therefore, keep a pad and pen nearby to write down these things to comfort your fear of forgetting, and then refocus on the Lord. Resist the temptation to let your mind drift to things other than prayer.
5. Use a Regular Guide for Prayer
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them the “Model Prayer” (commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”). This was an index prayer where every line reminded the disciple of an important area of prayer. You will find a “Prayer Guide” in this handbook based on the Model Prayer. Use it as a guide to keep you focused in prayer. Other prayer lists such as the “Prayer Shield”, “Thirty-One Days of Prayer”, etc. also serve as excellent ways to stay focused on important prayer targets. Remember that prayer is a relationship with God. These guides are not to become a legalistic ritual, but simply a “guide” or “track” on which to run. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray in each category. This makes each day of prayer different, fresh, and exciting.
6. Pray in the Holy Spirit
Through the baptism with the Holy Spirit we have available to us the ability to pray in the Spirit, i.e. other tongues (I Corinthians 14:2, 14). The power in this prayer is found in the spirit to Spirit communication with God rather than mind to Spirit communication with God. As we pray in the Spirit we are able to pray the perfect will of God in uncertain situations (Romans 8:26-28). As we pray in the Spirit we also build up ourselves on our most holy faith (Jude 20). Pray in the Spirit often as you pray both to pray more effectively for others and to build yourself up in the spirit.
7. Listen for God's Voice
Resist the temptation to rush out of God’s presence once you have prayed everything on your list. Prayer is communication with God. Communication is a two-way process. We must not do all of the talking in prayer but take time to be still and listen for the voice of God. Ask God to speak to you during your time of prayer, and stop frequently to listen. God will speak to us through His word, through the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit inside, through people, tapes, music, etc.
8. Keep a Prayer Journal
Keep a record of what things you experienced in prayer such as important prayer targets, direction from the Lord, what you heard God saying, Scriptures that were impressed on your heart, people for which you had a particular burden, etc. Journaling is an excellent way to reflect and meditate on the Lord. Writing can draw out of your spirit man the deep things that God is doing in your life and give you assurance of these dealings at later times as you go back to review what the Lord has said.
9. Pray with Others
Although praying alone with God is important, we should pray with others also. Make a personal commitment to pray with others on a regular basis. The early church spent great amounts of time praying together. There is encouragement, strength, and mentoring in prayer from these meetings. The power of prayer multiplies exponentially when saints pray together in agreement where one can put a thousand to flight and two ten thousand, etc.
10. Connect in Prayer Events
Prayer events are special times of prayer established by the church or organized by pastors and churches in the city, region, state, and nation. Look for opportunities to attend prayer events such as the National Day of Prayer events on the first Thursday of each May. Be sure to be involved in our church prayer events such as First Fruits Prayer, the Twenty-Four Hour Prayer Watch and Fire on the Altar.