Getting to movement means praying more than we normally do, but how do we build the prayer habits we need to become prepared disciple makers?
In “Tips on Building Prayer Habits,” on the CDM Podcast, Paul and Rebecca share practical tips for developing a strong and fruitful prayer life. These include setting aside a specific amount of time for prayer, seeing prayer as more than a checklist, and praying The Lord’s Prayer for great Commission work. Continue reading to learn more!
Developing Daily Prayer Habits
We are often unaware of how much time we’re actually spending in prayer, just as we’re unaware of how many calories we’re consuming. We’re always consuming more calories than we think we are, and we’re always praying less than we think we are.
Most of the time when we are encouraging or mobilizing prayer, it’s within one-time prayer events. This could be a prayer night for a couple hours at our church or in our home, or it could be an all-day thing once a month or whenever something big is going on.
Events like these are fine and, of course, it’s important to pray for major occurrences. Far more important, though, is that we develop the habit of daily, personal and communal prayer for ourselves.
If we have a firm foundation of personal prayer established, then one time prayer events will be bonuses instead of the primary way we go about encouraging and mobilizing prayer.
We Don’t Got This
Prayer prepares us for what God wants to do.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus is in torment at the coming hour of his betrayal and crucifixion, his disciples are there with him, but they aren’t pleading with God for strength and courage. They’re dozing off and dreaming.
Jesus, meanwhile, tries to prepare the disciples for what is about to happen, urging them to remain vigilant and pray. He tells Peter the first time he finds him napping:
“So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41 ESV).
Three times Jesus leaves the twelve to pray and then returns to find them sleeping. By the third time, it’s too late for them to pray and have God prepare their hearts for how to respond because the hour is already upon them and the mob has arrived to arrest Jesus.
Without their hearts prepared through prayer, how do the disciples respond?
Almost all of them run away and hide.
Peter maims Malchus with a sword and then denies Christ three times — once to a little girl.
John is the only one of the twelve disciples who ends up at the foot of the cross where Jesus is dying.
These were Jesus’s closest friends and followers who’d lived with and been taught by Him for three years! Even still, Jesus knew they needed that time to prepare.
We are no different.
No matter how long we’ve been walking with the Lord, we need prayer every day to prepare our hearts for what He wants to do in and through us, especially if we’re trying to reach others for Jesus.
There are going to be trials, hardships, temptations and even successes that we will experience that we need wisdom from above to know how to respond to. We can’t walk around acting like, no matter what comes our way, we’ll figure it out — we’ve got this.
We don’t got this.
We need good prayer habits in our lives. So where do we start? Let’s look at a few practical tips we can implement day-to-day to begin cultivating a flourishing prayer life.
30 Minutes of Prayer Per Day
Set thirty minutes aside somewhere in the day where you know you have the time. For some, that’s in the morning right after they wake up, for others that’s at work on their lunch break or in the evening before bed.
Whatever that looks like for you, work on being consistent with making that time in your schedule.
Now, thirty minutes is not some magic number or biblical command, but it is a good place to start because it will get us into the practice of purposefully setting time aside every day to be in prayer.
The opposite is true as well. If we don’t intentionally set aside time to spend in prayer, we won’t do it.
The goal of prayer is not to get God to align with what we want to do, the goal of prayer is God Himself. In seeking Him, He aligns our hearts with what He wants to do and who He wants us to be.
That’s why, within our thirty minutes of prayer a day, we should focus not only on praising, thanking, and making our requests known to God, but also taking time to listen to what He wants to tell us.
The more we spend time with God and learn to hear His voice and recognize as He’s speaking to us throughout our day, the more we will become like Him.
This type of listening prayer could look like asking God to share what He wants to show us in a particular area and then taking a few minutes to be silent and listen.
Some examples of things we could ask God to show us are:
Blind spots or sins that we need to confess and repent of
People in our lives He wants us to reach out to or pray for
Specific ways He wants us to spend our time, money, energy or talents
Stories or words of encouragement we can offer a person in need
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully these examples can serve us as we strive to become better listeners of God in our times of prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer
When we’re beginning to build prayer as a habit in our lives, it can be easy to think, “Man, thirty minutes? How am I going to think of enough things to fill thirty minutes?”
The Lord’s Prayer is a tool that Christ has given us to show us how to pray and what to pray for, so instead of just saying it by rote, we can use The Lord’s Prayer as a framework to guide us in our thirty minutes of prayer. Here’s what that can look like!
1) “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
We start with the most important thing first — God’s glory and the holiness of His name.
This can be a time to give praises to God for Who He is and thanks for His provisions.
2) “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Here, we can pray for friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors in our lives who are far from God, asking for Him to work in them to bring them into His kingdom.
We can pray for specific areas: our neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, countries, etc.
3) “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Here, we pray for all of our daily needs.
Interactions with lost people
Fruits of the Spirit
Needs of others
Really any need you or anyone else have for the day
4) “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Here is a time to confess sins, ask God to show us things we need to repent of, and let go of ways we have been wronged by others.
5) “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
This is actively engaging in spiritual warfare.
We’re praying against Satan and his schemes in our lives and the lives of believers and nonbelievers.
Sudden health problems
Sudden relationship turmoil
Anything Satan can use to derail or distract us from furthering God’s kingdom in our daily lives
We’re praying against things in our cities, countries and the world that are contrary to God’s will
The sex industry
The drug trade
Government and corporate corruption