I’m a wanna-be prayer warrior. I long to grow a deeper prayer life, but I have a secret struggle with boredom. I know prayer carries power and changes lives. But when I sit down to pray, I find it hard to focus. After three minutes, my mind travels back to the last season of Downton Abbey, or wanders to my to-do list. Or I try to pray before bed, but I fall asleep.
Are prayer wimps a thing? I suspect I am one and I’m left wondering how to pray better.
I don’t mean to be flippant. Prayer is an amazing privilege. Through words like these in scripture, we have an open invitation from the God of the universe: “Call to me and I will answer you.” (Jeremiah 33:3a) We have a promise that He hears us: “You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)
Through the pages of our Bibles, we see examples of men who prayed. Even Jesus, the Son of God, prayed. So I know I should too, but I find it challenging. I suspect I’m not alone. Many Christians struggle with knowing how to pray.
Table of contents
- 1 Why do we struggle with how to prayer?
- 2 Tip 1: Pray Simply
- 3 Tip 2: Read the Word
- 4 Tip 3: Make Prayer Active and Multi-Sensory
- 5 Tip 4: Make Prayer an Integral Part of Your Day
- 6 Tip 5: Pray Expectantly
- 7 God, Are You Still There?
- 8 God, Are You Going to Keep Your Promise?
- 9 God, Should I Trust You?
- 10 Outside of God’s Will
- 11 Doubt
- 12 Sin Stops Prayer From Being Answered
- 13 Prayer is Answered in God’s Timing
- 14 Stories of Waiting For Prayer To Be Answered
Why do we struggle with how to prayer?
Maybe we over-spiritualize it. We think we have to pray long and eloquent for it to really work. We measure ourselves with spiritual giants like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, and we feel unqualified and unworthy. Sometimes we separate prayer from the rest of life; we look at it as something we do at prayer meetings or in our quiet time.
When I read Paul’s words in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful,” I wonder… how do I devote myself to prayer when I have a regular life with a job and kids? I forget that Paul was surely talking about a heart attitude, not a never-ending prayer meeting or devotional time. Devoted prayer is a heart tendency to turn to God at each turn in our day.
On my journey from prayer wimp to warrior, I’m discovering a few practical tips for how to pray:
Tip 1: Pray Simply
We might think we have to pray passionate, persuasive words for God to hear us, but in reality He listens even to our shortest “SOS” prayers.
“The fewer the words, the better the prayer,” said Martin Luther. Isn’t that reassuring? We can talk to God in everyday language, just like we talk to a friend. We don’t have to pray long. God delights in a simple word of praise, like “Lord, I love you.” He treasures the anguished prayer of a mother when she calls, “Heal my child.” He answers the simplest request: “Lord, give me strength for today.”
Tip 2: Read the Word
Have you ever had a one-sided conversation with someone who talked continually without listening to you? The conversation didn’t go very far, did it? We do the same thing to God when we pray without reading the Bible, His eternal letter of love and wisdom to each one of us on earth. Reading Scripture helps us get to know God. It brings life to our prayers.
If you want to have a more effective conversation with God, read Scripture. Let David’s words in the Psalms enliven your prayers. Stop in the Gospels to pray over a verse that strikes you, asking God to work that truth into your heart. Let the words of Paul’s letters give you specific prayer requests for yourself and the people you love.
Tip 3: Make Prayer Active and Multi-Sensory
Prayer grows dull when we turn it into a purely mental exercise. God made us creative beings, so why don’t we bring creativity to our prayer lives? Lighting a fragrant candle can send a signal to our brains: “It’s time to pray.” It can bring a sacred sense of awe to a few minutes of prayer. Listening to music can help us focus on God. Many people enjoy doodling, drawing, or painting while they pray.
I help my ADHD-plagued brain focus on prayer by keeping a prayer journal. Making a list of requests keeps my mind alert; I stop to pray for each petition after jotting it down. Occasionally I write out longer prayers like a letter. A prayer journal builds faith when you look back over your petitions and recall God’s answers.
Remember you don’t have to sit quietly to pray. My best prayer times happen out on the walking trail. Praying aloud also helps me keep my mind engaged, but I save that for prayer times at home.
Tip 4: Make Prayer an Integral Part of Your Day
This verse baffles me: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;” (1 Thess. 5:16-17) Is it really possible to pray without ceasing?
How about trying an experiment? Start and end your day with prayer. Lift up short prayers to God as often as you can throughout your day. Pray over your schedule. Ask God to help you with your to-do list. When you hear a troubling news report, lift the situation up to God. Say a prayer for your spouse or child as you give him or her a hug. Pray for the person you’re talking to. A friend of mine gives thanks whenever she stops at red lights while driving. Look for prayer moments that work for your life.
Tip 5: Pray Expectantly
Prayer becomes a lifeless exercise when we’re not looking for answers. Jesus invites us to expect God to work. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
How much more exciting prayer becomes when we keep our eyes open to watch for God’s answers. Sometimes I wonder how many answers we miss because we don’t really expect God to respond.
Remember Colossians 4:2: “Devote Yourselves to Prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
How about getting started today? Don’t get discouraged if you get distracted like I do. Just get back on track. Pray and watch for God’s answers, so you can thank Him. He might answer differently than you expect, but His answer will always be better than what you had in mind.
Here are some of our most visited prayers on a variety of topics. You can use these sample prayers to lead your words and to crate your own prayer.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for StrengthPrayer for ProtectionMorning PrayersGood Night PrayersThe Prayer of JabezShort PrayersThe Lord’s PrayerThe Prayer of St FrancisSerenity PrayerPrayer for ForgivenessPrayer for GuidanceIrish Prayers and BlessingsPrayers for My HusbandPrayers for My SonPrayers for My DaughterPrayer Quotes
Now available is our new Daily Prayer devotional! An easy way to find start your day with prayer, read today’s prayer and sign up to receive by email.
Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life with teenagers, and dark roast coffee. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy writes about real life faith on her blog, faithspillingover.com, on Facebook. and on Twitter.
Updated date: January 19,2018
“So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.”- Exodus 6:9
At the time when this verse was written, the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, were slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh’s iron fist.
The Lord had given them the promise that one day they would be freed from slavery and taken to the Promised Land.
However, when they faced opposition and weren’t freed exactly when they thought they’d be, they lost hope of the Lord’s deliverance altogether.
They became so discouraged that they refused to listen to God anymore.
Their hearts became hardened because they chose to magnify their current situation instead of the Lord’s faithfulness.
Similar to the Israelites, as Christians, we too will face opposition.
We too will face times of great suffering.
We too will have certain promises given directly to us from the Lord that we’re still waiting to be fulfilled, and prayers we’ve cried out to Him that have yet to be answered.
But does this mean our God is not good?
Does it mean His eyes are blind to our suffering, His ears deaf to our cries?
God is good all the time, and all the time our God is good!
God, Are You Still There?
One thing you can be sure of is that God is working behind the scenes.
The truth is, not only does God hear our prayers, but He also promises to answer them according to His will for our lives.
It means God has reasons for His delays.
Reasons for how and when He chooses to answers our prayers.
And reasons for our seasons of waiting, uncertainty, persecution, opposition and yes even suffering.
What I love about this story, is just how much of God’s mercy, grace, goodness, and faithfulness is displayed in the lives of His children.
Yes, the Israelites lost heart.
Yes, they were discouraged.
But, God kept His promise to them.
He delivered them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.
They were blessed beyond their wildest dreams not because they were “good” people, but because they were His chosen people.
Don’t forget how God parted the Red Sea, knocked down the walls of Jericho, and used a shepherd boy named David to defeat the giant Goliath with only a stone and a sling!
Don’t forget how God turned water into wine, opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in this world to die on a cross and rise again for the forgiveness of our sins!
How truly great is our God!
So if God is the same today, yesterday and forever, then is anything too hard for Him?
Is anything impossible for Him?
The answer surely is no.
The same God who was with these men and woman back then is surely the same God who is with us now.
Our God is greater!
Our God is stronger!
Our God is able to do absolutely anything!
God, Are You Going to Keep Your Promise?
God is faithful to His Word.
If God says it will happen then it will, and if He says it won’t happen then it won’t.
The name of our Savior is “Faithful and True”. (Rev. 19:11)
We can trust Him.
God will never deceive us, play tricks on us, lie to us, or lead us on in order to let us down.
Just because we may not see God’s almighty hands at work in our lives, it doesn’t mean He’s not working.
Just because we are still waiting for God to fulfill a promise, it doesn’t mean that He’ll never fulfill it.
And just because God may choose to allow us to experience hardship, it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t care.
It’s during these times that we need to really hold on to the promises He gives us without wavering in our faith.
We need to stop allowing our feelings and emotions to take precedence over the truth of God’s Word.
We need to stop doubting God and to start trusting that He knows what’s best for us.
God, Should I Trust You?
Walking blindly, solely by faith, is sometimes the hardest thing for us to do.
But our God has a perfect track record.
When we look back at what He’s already provided and what He’s already done…
We can rest assured that He will also make a way for whatever it is we’re currently going through.
Remember that the Word of God will never return void.
By trusting in it completely, by trusting in our Jesus with all that is within us, we will find that we really do have hope in this seemingly hopeless world.
So if you’re feeling discouraged and find yourself no longer listening to and trusting in your Father’s still small voice it’s time to stop listening to the lies of the enemy.
Rebuke Satan in Jesus name!
Open up your Bible and allow the Word of God to encourage you.
Allow God’s promises to overwhelm you instead of the cares and concerns of this life.
“Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.” – Joshua 21:45
Regardless of how we’re feeling, what our eyes are seeing, or what our finite minds are thinking—our God is faithful.
Our God is good.
He has a specific plan for our lives and is in full and complete control of everything we’re going through.
So when the Lord gives you a promise, when He tells you He’ll do something, walk by faith believing that one day it will come to pass.
Rest assured that you haven’t been overlooked nor have you been forgotten.
Your Heavenly Father will not lie to you.
You can trust Him and take Him completely at His Word.
You are not walking through life all alone.
God goes before you, stands behind you, and is walking alongside you.
You too will enter into the Promised Land, heaven for all eternity, so keep your eyes on your Good Shepherd and follow closely after His lead.
He will give you every single thing you need, every single step of the way.
“Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our ownYou are faithful, God, You are faithful…”
Study Verses: Leviticus 26:12-13, Prov. 3:5-6, 1 Corinthians 2:9
Why would God wait to answer our prayers? Wouldn’t we expect that since God is all-powerful that He would answer immediately? What is the purpose for God’s delaying our prayer requests?
Outside of God’s Will
One reason that God may not answer our prayers or that He waits is that we are asking for the wrong thing. We may be asking for something that is not in God’s will for our lives and we might be asking for selfish reasons. James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”(James 4:3). For example, if we ask for money and we are not already giving to our local church or we have not been helping the poor, why should God give us more money so that we might spend it on ourselves? Also, we might have the wrong motives in asking for something. If we ask for a better job, the job that we think would be better may actually be worse than the job we have now. God is sovereign and He knows what is best, and holds our best interests in mind for our future (Jer. 29:11).
In the Lord’s Prayer, we are to ask that His will be done on earth just as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). We know that God’s will for believers is to grow in grace and knowledge, so we can ask for spiritual understanding of His Word just before we read the Bible. There is confidence in praying when we know His will for out lives as it says in I John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
When we pray, we may have serious doubts about God’s ability or willingness to answer our prayer. James 12:6-7 indicates that if we pray in doubt, God will not honor our requests saying, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” God may be waiting for us to pray in real faith, in expectation of receiving an answer, or to see if we are serious enough to continue to pray for it.
Sin Stops Prayer From Being Answered
God will not answer the prayer of a believer if they are in a state of perpetual, unrepentant sin (I Pet. 3:12). Psalm 66:18 is clear that “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.“ If we are obedient, He will hear our prayers (John 15:7) but if we are unforgiving, He will refuse our petitions before His altar (Matt. 18:35). Matthew 5:24 is says that when we fail to forgive others, this is cause for a failed request for His help, “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Prayer is Answered in God’s Timing
God also expects us to wait patiently on His perfect timing (Psalm 66:18). In Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.” The minor prophet, Habakkuk speaks for all of us when he grew impatient in waiting for God to answer his request in 1:2, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” I can most certainly identify with Habakkuk in his sentiments. Psalm 37 is a great Psalm to read when you are seeking the desires of your heart with the realization that it may take some time. Read these key verses from Psalm 37 on waiting:
7 “Rest before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not worry when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.“
25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
34 “Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.”
Sometimes the desires of our heart take time. They do not happen overnight. God is most often at work when He appears to be the most silent. Even though Daniel had to wait three weeks before his prayer was answered, God had actually answered his prayer that very day that he prayed. Don’t think that since God does not immediately reveal to you His answer, that He has not answered it and has not answered it right away. Daniel had his prayer answered the very same day of his request but it took three weeks for God’s sovereign timing for it to reach him – and it did at exactly the right time, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them”(10:12).
Stories of Waiting For Prayer To Be Answered
Don’t ever give up on praying. God shows us that persistence pays off in Luke 18:1-8, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The point of this parable is that if we continue steadfastly in prayer God will honor that persistence. Never give up on praying because God may be waiting to see if it is important enough to us to continue in prayer, day and night, day after day.
I heard the story of a faithful mother who had been praying for 28 years for her son to come to faith in Christ. Year after year her son was rebellious. He abused drugs, was in and out of jail, and showed no signs of ever knowing Christ. The days and years dragged on with absolutely no indication that there was anything different in the man‘s life. Then one day, 28 years after his mother first prayed for him, this man came to a saving faith in Christ. Today this man, Terry Williams, uses his testimony to help other prison inmates find their way to a relationship with the only One Who can save: Jesus Christ. What if this mother had given up? What if she decided it was not important enough to keep praying each and every day? What a difference this mother made in her steadfast prayers due to her undying love for her son. Today her son is making an eternal difference for others in prison. This was all due to prayer. Even though she had to wait
Another article you might be interested in:
Does God Answer The Prayers of Unbelievers?
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Would you like to get the daily question in your FB messenger? Just click the button below to get started.
Share this post
: | | | |
Growing up, I often asked myself impatiently, “How can I keep faith while waiting on God to answer prayers?” As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), God has shown me through His Word how to wait on His timing.
Only God can see the big picture. He has planned out everything to intertwine perfectly in the end. Part of His plan includes working through our prayers. We pray, yet we doubt He hears us. He has promised, however, to hear His children.
Although He hears us, He doesn’t always give the response we expect or the answer on our timetable. I prayed twelve years for my son to return to the Lord. Every day, I prayed, believing God heard and would answer. My sovereign God used those twelve years to work in my son’s heart and bring him back into the fold. In a human’s eyes, twelve years seem an awfully long time to wait. In God’s eyes, it is a breath (2 Peter 3:8). His time is not our time.
When waiting on God to answer prayers, we must believe God will answer. Unbelief is the biggest obstacle to overcome in praying and waiting. “But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
While waiting on God to answer prayers, take stock of your blessings. Are you breathing? Then, rejoice in life! Do you see the blue sky or even a cloudy one? Thank God for the ability to see. Can you hear the sound of the wind blowing through the trees or a child laughing? Praise God for hearing! Turn the wait into a treasure hunt for the blessings that we often take for granted. For remembrance, keep a prayer journal, listing all your prayers with the date of request. Frequently lift up the requests to God, and record the date you received an answer.
Never forget that answers come in God’s time — not ours. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” God has promised His own a hopeful future. Rest in God’s faithfulness. He will answer you.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions