I’ve been unpacking the mystery of prayer for nearly 30 years. Recently I’ve had the privilege of witnessing God answer prayers regarding salvation and healing. And yet, I have barely scratched the surface of the mystery. But one thing I know: growing your prayer life will be one of the most significant spiritual disciplines you will develop. And it’s not that hard to do. If you’ll implement these four steps in your prayer life, I promise it will grow (and so will you).
Step 1: Discover the Secret to Prayer
The writer of Hebrews urges us to take full advantage of our privilege of prayer.
“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
According to Hebrews 4:16, we approach God’s throne of grace “that we may receive.”
This, my friends, is the secret to growing your prayer life. When you realize that your prayers connect with God and that God responds to them by giving you what you need, your prayer life will grow.
Stop right here and ask yourself this question, “Do I believe that God hears me and that He will answer me when I pray?”
A few years ago I read this quote by Andrew Murray:
“God intends prayer to have an answer and no one has yet fully conceived what God will do for the child who believes that his prayer will be heard. God hears prayer.”
Because God answers me when I pray, I pray. And when I pray I can do so with the confident expectation that God is working. I’ve experienced far too many answered prayers in my life to not believe that this is true.
God hears and answers you when you pray. Understanding this marvelous truth is step one to growing your prayer life.
Step 2: Designate a Time and Place to Pray
While the Bible teaches that we ought to pray continually (I Thessalonians 5:17), we ought also to pray consistently. Jesus practiced this discipline of setting aside time for prayer. On several occasions, the Gospel writers mentioned that He got away by Himself to pray (Luke 5:16).
When you set aside time to do something, that something gets done. Once you know the secret to prayer, the next step to growing your prayer life is designating a time and place to pray. I like to pray in the same place at the same time on a daily basis. And I’ve discovered that if I have the tools I need already in that place, my prayers are less likely to be interrupted.
Some of the tools I use are a pen and journal, my Bible, and perhaps a devotional book. You will be amazed at how much your prayer life grows when you give it a time and place to develop.
Step 3: Be Specific in Your Requests
Just this morning, I read in Mark 10:46-52 about Jesus’ encounter with blind Bartimaeus. When Jesus first walked up, Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” This general cry from a beggar was the humble plea to be given a few coins. When Jesus heard Bartimaeus cry out, He stopped and invited him to come close to Him (reminds me of Hebrews 4:16). Then Jesus asked Bartimaeus what many of us might consider a question with an obvious answer. He asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Let’s pause right here and consider His words. How many times do we pray to God and simply say something like this, “Lord, it’s so-and-so, and they are hurting because of such-and-such. Please be with them.”
What does that mean? Of course, we know that God being with someone is the best thing that can happen to them. God promises in Scripture to be with us always, so we can trust that He is already with the person we’re praying for. Can’t we be more specific in our prayers? What are we willing to believe God will do?
The miracles Jesus performed often followed a specific request from the recipient. When you pray, be specific in your requests. Consider Jesus’ question and give Him an honest answer.
“What do you want Him to do for you?”
Step 4: Trust God with the Answers
Charles Spurgeon said, “We must remember that the goal of prayer is the ear of God. Unless that is gained, the prayer has utterly failed. The uttering of it may have kindled devotional felling in our minds, the hearing of it may have comforted and strengthened the hearts of those with whom we have prayed, but if the prayer has not gained the heart of God, it has failed in its essential purpose.”
Andrew Murray said, “The blessing of prayer is that you can ask and receive what you will: the highest exercise and the glory of prayer is that persevering importunity can prevail and obtain what God at first could not and would not do.”
If we were to take Spurgeon’s and Murray’s statements out of context we might be tempted to believe that the goal of prayer is to convince heaven to do earth’s bidding. But remember that Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Not vice versa.
When we pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done, we are putting ourselves in the posture of surrender and submission.
It’s when you surrender your will to God’s, when you let go of your limited understanding and eagerly await the revealing of His unlimited wisdom and knowledge, and when you submit your heart to His heart that His power flows in you and through you.
When we fully trust God and submit to His authority and will, we can pray like this:
Lord, You know better than me.
Lord, You know best.
Lord, You can.
And I trust You will.
Leighann McCoy is a regular in the throne room of God. She’s written 17 books on prayer and spiritual warfare and is the founder of a new prayer ministry called The Prayer Clinic (whose purpose is to mobilize your church/ministry to pray). To learn more about Leighann and her ministry go to www.leighannmccoy.com.