How’s your prayer life?
If you are anything like me, prayer is always something that needs improvement.
Though I don’t consider myself to have arrived at the perfect prayer life, these six steps of prayer have really helped me. I hope they help you too!
Jesus never said, “If you pray.” He said, “WHEN you pray…” Prayer isn’t optional, but should be an active part of a Jesus follower’s life.
But is it really? A few seconds of food gratitude a day doesn’t seem like what Jesus really had in mind.
In the past, I have used the “I pray all the time” excuse to justify not having a consistent time and place for prayer. The truth is, having some thoughts about God throughout the day isn’t the same as dedicated time in prayer.
Many people are familiar with what we call The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, but that chapter contains a lot of instructions for how a disciple should pray. Over the years, I’ve used these principles as a guide to improve my own prayer life. I hope these tips prove helpful to you as well.
Here’s a link to the verses that inspired “Six Simple Steps To Pray The Jesus Way:” Matthew 6:5-13. Each step will have quotes from those passages.
To keep things memorable, I love acronyms. For these six steps, the word P-R-A-Y-E-R helps me remember.
P-Put It On Your Calendar
“But when you pray, go into your private room…”
Jesus didn’t say if you pray, but WHEN you pray. He talked about both when and where. The things we consider important, we put on the calendar. When is your daily time and place of prayer? Even starting with 5 minutes is a great way to build consistency. Want to pray the Jesus way? Put it on your calendar.
Make a daily appointment – a time and place for you to pray!
Amos 3:3 (HCSB) Can two walk together without agreeing to meet?
When and where can you pray daily?
“…shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you… Therefore, you should pray like this:”
There’s an old song that says, “Shut de door, keep out the devil.” In order to focus on prayer, it’s important to shut the door of distractions. That’s not going to look the same for everyone. For me, it means turning off notifications and turning on some inspirational music to keep me focused. Another distraction, my wandering thoughts! To keep on track, I use the prayer in Matthew 6 as an outline or a pattern to follow. There are actually two versions of that outline. A more detailed Lord’s Prayer outline will be a later post. The next steps here are a simplified version.
Prayer time should be a time to focus. Try to create an environment that won’t distract you.
Colossians 4:2 (HCSB) Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.
How can you remove distractions?
A-Acknowledge OUR Father
“…Our Father…Your name…Your kingdom …Your will..:”
Prayer is personal, but it’s not about me – it’s about God and us as His children. There’s not a single I or me in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s all plural. Start your prayer time by acknowledging God as OUR Father. Give Him all the credit. Honor and consider His name. We desire His Kingdom, His will – not our personal agenda. Prayer is family time. We are in this together!
Using the model Jesus gave us, start your prayer recognizing our Father and His Kingdom we are all part of.
Isaiah 64:8 (WEB) But now, Yahweh, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand.
How can you pray focused on God and His family, not just you?
“…Give us today our daily bread.…”
Once again Jesus models prayer in the plural. It’s not just my needs, not just your needs, but give US today what we need today. Notice the focus on now? Why is that? We will have needs tomorrow too. While it’s not wrong to pray for future needs, I believe what Jesus is teaching here is faith and control. We can’t change the past or control the future. That’s God’s job. Seeing and acknowledging His provision today helps us let Him be in charge of the future too. That’s faith in action. And praying in plural helps us to not be selfish.
The Father knows our needs before we ask, but we are still instructed to ask and believe!
Mark 11:24 (HCSB) Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for — believe that you have received them, and you will have them.
Who’s needs are on your prayer requests list?
E-Empty And Arm Yourself
“…And forgive us… as we also have forgiven… deliver us…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever…”
Forgiveness. Avoiding temptation. Giving God the credit. This step focuses on those three vital elements of prayer.
Often we think of forgiveness only with the “sinner’s prayer” beginning to follow Jesus. But Jesus taught forgiveness as a habit. Once again it’s plural. Forgive us. Forgive others. We don’t take forgiveness for granted, but we should seek to grant it to others as well as ourselves!
This section of prayer is also about being delivered from evil. The spiritual battle is real and daily. We want to pray to stay far from the temptations of our flesh. Emptying ourselves of selfishness and pride. God will do what we can’t do but we too often try to do it for Him!
And we close the prayer as we started. Recognizing it is God’s Kingdom, His power, and His glory that matters.
And so we empty and arm ourselves. Forgiveness is a two-way street. We ask for forgiveness as we forgive others. We also remember the battle is spiritual, and the Kingdom is His!
Matthew 6:14 (HCSB)
“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.
What do you need forgiveness for and who do you need to forgive? Let God handle it!
R-Reflect and Write It Down
How your prayer time ends is important too. Saying Amen isn’t like saying goodbye or talk to you later. It’s a confirmation that your prayers are heard and effective.
Amen means, “so be it”! Don’t just end your prayer time, take some time to reflect on what you prayed. How is God answering you? Write it down as you learn to listen. This is the first step to prayer journaling which has really impacted my prayer life.
Habakkuk 2:2 (HCSB) The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it.
What is God saying to you through prayer?
- Put It On Your Calendar
- Remove Distractions
- Acknowledge OUR Father
- Your Requests
- Empty And Arm Yourself
- Reflect and Write It Down
That’s it! Six Simple Steps To Pray The Jesus Way. I hope these steps help you as much as they have helped me.
What about you? What steps have helped your prayer life?
Leave a comment below and let’s talk about it.