“Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our love. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” - Timothy Keller

There may not be a better time to strengthen your prayer life than right now. Our schedules and routines have changed and more than ever we feel as if there is something missing. Below are a three practical insights and tips to help deepen your connection to our heavenly father.

  1. Schedule it. Intentions only get you so far, especially in your prayer life. You’re not alone if you have ever intended to increase your time praying but never followed through with it. The best way to overcome this barrier is to set a specific time and location for your daily prayer.
    Example: I am going to spend 10 minutes praying every day this week at 7:00am on my porch.
    Setting a daily time and location will not only increase the likelihood of you following through with it, but it will also help you to follow a pattern of life that Jesus lived. It is recorded often in the gospels that Jesus would arise early in the morning and go to a desolate place to pray (Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35). Regardless of whether or not you're a morning person, pick a time and stick to it (it'll make you more like Jesus than you know).

  2. Listen. Prayer is a God-initiated conversation. Like any language, we must first hear before we can speak. Anything you say with your mouth, you first heard. All language is learned. It isn't any different with talking to God.
    The first step to a thriving prayer life is to start with listening to God and the most effective way to listen to God is through His word.
    Below is a practical guide to listening to God through His word:
    1. Pick a short passage… maybe a Psalm, maybe an excerpt from Jesus' sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), or an excerpt from the book of James or an epistle (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc.), or whatever you may choose.
    2. Read that passage slowly and deliberately, looking for a verse that sticks out. It could be centered around any of the following:
      Something God is revealing about Himself/His heart.
      A promise of God.
      A sin of ours we need to repent of.
      A call to action in a specific area of our life.
    3. Once you have zeroed in on one verse, read it over and over (maybe even to the point that you can recite it without looking at the text itself).  This form of meditating on scripture is one of the most effective ways to allow God to speak to you.
    4. After spending a few minutes repeating this verse to yourself, thank God for what you have learned and ask Him to help you to truly apply this truth in your life.

  3. Pray as Jesus instructed. Not often does the Bible record 'how to' instructions as directly as it does when Matthew records Jesus' instructions on how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. This section is famously referred to as the Lord's Prayer, and it gives us a great model to build our prayers upon.
    Pastor and theologian Martin Luther commonly practiced what he would call "riffing" on the Lord's Prayer. He described it as using the outline and model of Matthew 6:9-13 as a launching point to putting the prayer in his own words each and every time he prayed. This is a great way to grow in the way you talk to God while following the model Jesus gave His followers. Below is an example of what that might look like for you:
    V. 9 "You are so Holy and perfect, God. There is no other name in the entire universe that has the power yours does. You are seated on your heavenly thrown."
    V. 10 "God, I want your will in my life. I want your will in my family's life and I want your will in the world around me. Please show me where I allow my will to be more important than yours."
    V. 11 "God, I trust you to be the one who gives me what I need today. Help me not to the run to the world to meet my needs. I trust you."
    V. 12 "God. forgive me for my sins. I know I'm not perfect. I know that I mess up often. Help me to not grow in my pride, but rather in my dependence upon you. Help me to receive your grace and in so doing learn how to extend it to others."
    V. 13 "God, protect me from all temptation and free me from their lures. Help me to find joy in doing good and disgust in the ways of the world."


Our hope is that these three simple tips would enrich your prayer life during this time and help you to create lasting habits that transcend beyond this trying season. Grace and peace.
Books on Prayer:
Circle Maker - Mark Batterson
Prayer - Timothy Keller

RightNow Media Series on Prayer:
Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? - Philip Yancy
Sermons on Prayer: