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Tips on Building Good Prayer Habits

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.

Listening Prayer

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.

    • Meetings

    • Work

    • Health

    • Food

    • Finances

    • Safe travels

    • Interactions with lost people

    • Conversations

    • Fruits of the Spirit

    • Sanctification

    • 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.

    • Temptations

    • 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

    • Abortion

    • Shootings

    • Racism

    • Human trafficking

    • The sex industry

    • The drug trade

    • Government and corporate corruption

    • Moral relativism

    • Anything that goes against God’s design for the world

6) “Yours is the kingdom, power and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

  • We lay hold of God’s promises to us. Here are a few favorites of mine.

    • Philippians 4:19 — “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

    • Isaiah 41:10 — “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    • 2 Corinthians 9:8 — “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

    • James 4:7 — “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

    • 2 Corinthians 12:9 — “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

    • Romans 8:28 — “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

    • Psalm 50:15 — “and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

    • Psalm 16:11 — “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

    • Romans 8:32 — “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

    • Hebrews 13:5 — “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

    • Ephesians 3:20-21 — “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

  • Thank God for how He is going to answer and recognize who He is.

  • End our prayers in faith and expectation that God will give us what we need.

This is just the format and there are a lot of tools out there to help us develop individually in specific areas of prayer — like confession or praying for kingdom things — which are all great and good.

However, what is key in the beginning is building the initial habit of daily prayer and developing ourselves as believers in our relationship with the Lord. Once we do those things, the rest will follow.

Learn More

If you found this blog helpful and would like a more in-depth look at establishing a consistent prayer life, be sure to check out the “Tips on Building Prayer Habits” podcast here! You can also find the podcast on the CDM App under podcasts!

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