Three Effective Ways to Start a Persistent Prayer Life
1 Timothy 2:8~ Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension ...
One of the marks of a healthy church is that the Believers in the church pray. In fact, the Church is known as “a House of Prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). Yet, I often wonder how much prayer is being done in the “House of Prayer”.
I believe that there is a longing inside every Christian that desires for a persistent, passionate, purifying prayer life. However, he just does not know how to start. Or she starts her prayer journey, but quickly gives up and cannot maintain that persistent passionate prayer life.
If we want to have this dynamic prayer life, there are three simple things to remember to make our prayer effective.
1. First, keep the prayers short.
Most people think that prayers need to be long to be effective. They read of spiritual giants who spent hours on their knees praying. They recall that Jesus prayed all night during his ministry … several times. And these long prayers can intimidate Christians from praying altogether. Quite frankly, they run out of words to speak or time to invest in these prolong prayers.
While it is true that there are times when long prayers are necessary, for the most part, prayers are usually short … short spirts of passionate prayers sprinkle throughout the day, as I would call it.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to prayer, Jesus taught them a prayer that lasted only a few seconds (Luke 11:1-4). Yet it is the most powerful and poignant prayer ever uttered. It is a prayer has affected and effected people in unimaginable ways. Prayers do not have to be long to be effective.
The longest prayer in the Bible is Jesus’ prayer in John 17. It is known as the High Priestly Prayer, and this prayer can be read in less than five minutes. Prayers do not need to be long to be effective.
Jesus taught us to pray, not like the pagans who “supposed that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). As a rule of thumb, prayers should be short and spontaneous and concise.
How do we start to pray effectively? How about start by praying one sentence a day. Then next week, make it two sentences. And then three. The shortest prayer in the Bible are three words uttered by Peter … “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30). And the Lord answered Peter’s prayer.
Prayers do not have to be long to be effective.
2. Second, keep prayers simple.
Another thing that keeps Christians from praying is that they think prayers should be eloquent … poetic, even. When I would ask people to pray with me, I hear it so often, “I don’t know what to say.” What they mean is that their prayer sounds childish, ineloquent, or unimpressive. So, they do not want to pray.
But prayers should be simple … words flowing from the heart. Prayers are petitions palpitating from the deep need of the heart. They are simple words requesting simple needs. How simple is, “Lord, save me”? Yet, it is an effective prayer because Jesus answered his simple, desperate plead.
Jesus taught that “when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). We do not need to chant or shake or even try to force tears streaming from our eyes, thinking that these are what endear us to God. No. Keep it simple, using simple words.
I recall the story of Elijah and the 450 priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. The Battle of Prayer, if you will. The priests praying to their false god, Baal, and Elijah praying to the One True God. It was a test to see who would answer their prayers by sending fire down from heaven and consuming the altar of sacrifice. The priests prayed for four hours. They chanted. They cried out. They cut themselves. They threw themselves in a frenzy. But nothing happened. Then, Elijah stepped up to his altar that he prepared for the sacrifice. And he prayed two simple sentences … ONLY TWO SIMPLE SENTENCES. “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God …” (1 Kings 18:37). God answered his simple prayer and fire came out of heaven.
Prayers are short, and prayers are simple. Keep it simple. Use simple words. Do simple things such as bow down or kneeing down or even sitting down. Keep prayers simple.
3. Third, keep the prayers scriptural.
Another thing that keep people from praying is that they truly do not know the words to prayer. There is a desire and their heart have a simple need, but they just do not have the simple words to express the simple need. One last thing that would help in making prayer effective is to pray the Scriptures.
The Bible says that “this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). On my phone, I carry a list of Bible verses that I use in my prayer. I pray the Scriptures. The Scriptures give me the simple words to pray.
When I need wisdom during hard times, I would pray, “Lord, the Bible says in James 1 that if anyone lack wisdom, let him ask of You who gives to all generously. Lord, I ask for wisdom during this trouble times.”
When I interceded for the Church, I would pray, “Lord, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3 that Paul planted and Apollos watered, but You cause the growth. So please grow your Kingdom for Your Name’s sake.”
Praying the Scriptures will not only give us the simple words to speak, but makes our prayer effective.
So, there you have it. Three effective way to start and maintain a persistent, passionate, purifying prayer life. 1) Keep it Short. 2) Keep it Simple. And 3) Keep it Scriptural. Enjoy your prayer journey.
See also other articles in this series Prayer, Passion, and Purity: