“There is no room for improvement in my prayer life. My prayer life is as strong as can be.” Um… no. I’ve never said that. A weak prayer life is a common problem for too many believers. Only 16% of pastors are satisfied with their prayer life, according to Ellis Research, and pastors are spiritual leaders whose livelihoods depend on prayer!
Prayer is a struggle because it’s so powerful, and the enemy of our souls works tirelessly to prevent us from praying effectively.
Is your prayer life weak? Mine sure could use a boost!
The Key to an Effective Prayer Life
The first sign of an effective prayer is a prayer that actually happens.
Think about this.
How often do you say, “I’ll pray for you” without actually doing it? Or how much of your thought life is consumed with worrying or analyzing things instead of praying about them?
The key to an effective prayer life is simply to pray!
The Perfect Way to Pray
There is no perfect prayer formula or system or method that will guarantee a powerful prayer life. God doesn’t intend prayer to be a chore or a task on your checklist.
A parent typically enjoys conversation initiated by their children. It doesn’t matter if the child uses proper grammar or only asks for things the parent will actually give them. The parent just loves connecting with their kids.
And so it is with God. He loves to have conversations with His children through prayer. That’s a huge part of growing in our relationship with Him!
So a prayer prayed imperfectly is better than no prayer at all.
7 Ways to Strengthen Your Prayer Life
But there are ways to strengthen a weak prayer life. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but these are 7 practical things you can do immediately.
1. Strengthen Your Prayer Life through Praise
God doesn’t require our prayers in order for Him to act. Prayer is for our benefit.
We can ask God for things and simply tell Him about things, but our spirits need to praise Him, too. We were created for worship.
Even in the darkest moments, we can praise God for who He is. The Psalms are full of examples of this kind of prayer – crying out for help or bemoaning horrible circumstances, but always ending with an acknowledgement of who God is. Job is another shining example of this in Job 1:21.
Praise changes us. Our situation might not change, but our hearts will. And often, that’s all we need.
2. Strengthen Your Prayer Life by Confessing Sin
Unconfessed sin can hinder our prayers.
“If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, The Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18).”
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).”
Confession isn’t a one-time thing in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. We still sin, yet so often we become complacent about confronting our sin. We’re ashamed, or we’re afraid to see it for what it truly is.
But a life of everyday faithfulness to God is a life that doesn’t ignore sin. The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”
Are you uncomfortable about sin? I encourage you to read The Truth About Sin & Suffering.
Another key to effective prayer is praying with the right motive (James 4:3). Examining your heart and confessing sin will help you keep your motives pure.
3. Strengthen Your Prayer Life by Interceding for Others
You will never run out of things to pray about if you add intercession to your prayer repertoire.
Start with your immediate family. Then pray for your extended family, your church family, your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. And don’t forget to pray for your government (1 Timothy 2:1-4), your country (2 Chronicles 7:14), and the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).
Better yet, instead of responding to someone with, “I’ll be praying for you,” stop and pray right then and there. This eliminates the possibility of you saying you’ll pray, but then forgetting later. Also, it will encourage you both, unite your spirits, and build your faith.
4. Strengthen Your Prayer Life by Keeping it Raw & Real
God doesn’t need you to sound holy in your prayers. Remember, God desires a real relationship with you, so be real with Him!
He knows your thoughts, whether you voice them out loud or not, so there’s no point in trying to hide them (Psalm 94:11, Psalm 139:2, 1 John 3:20). Pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him how you really feel. He can handle it.
If this seems uncomfortable to you, I encourage you to read through the Psalms. The psalmist was raw and real with God. Read Psalm 88, for example.
“I am weary with my moaning; Every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with weeping (Psalm 6:6).”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, And why are you in turmoil within me (Psalm 42:11)?”
You can even pray when you have no words to pray. When your heart is so broken, all you can do is weep, that can be prayer, too.
“…I am so troubled that I cannot speak (Psalm 77:4).”
“…a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17)”.
Read God Hears Your Wordless Prayers by Christina Fox.
5. Strengthen Your Prayer Life by Praying Specifically
Few things have strengthened my faith more than praying specific prayers. When I ask the Lord for something specific, it’s obvious when He answers that prayer.
General, “blanket” prayers like, “bless me” are not bad prayers, but how will you know when that prayer is answered? We can pray “help me” all day long, every single day, and God is always answering that prayer, but we don’t always recognize it.
A specific prayer I pray regularly is that God would open the door for a certain difficult conversation in a natural way so that it doesn’t seem confrontational. I pray about the specific issues that need to be addressed and that, when the conversation happens, everyone involved will have understanding and grace. I pray for peaceful resolution. When God answers these prayers, it’s obvious.
6. Strengthen Your Prayer Life by Praying According to His Will
Wouldn’t it be exciting to know that every prayer you pray will be answered? When you pray according to God’s will, you can have that kind of anticipation, which means you can ask in faith (James 1:5-7).
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).”
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14).”
To pray “in Jesus’ name” means to pray according to His character and nature. This requires knowing Him through His Word.
Praying Scripture is one way to pray confidently. Now, this doesn’t mean you can take any Bible verse you find and claim it as God’s will for your own life. You must take it in context.
For example, Jeremiah 29:11 is often claimed as God’s direct Word to an individual today, but that passage was written for a different audience in a different situation. However, it does show God’s heart toward His people. It reveals to us God’s character, and encourages us that God’s desire for us is for our good.
Read Prayer for Victory: Praying through Psalm 20 for an example of what praying Scripture can look like. Or view this short video series from Don Whitney for an excellent introduction to praying Scripture.
7. Strengthen Your Prayer Life by Praying With Others
My last tip for strengthening your prayer life is to pray with others. Yes, it can be awkward. For many people, it’s scary to pray in front of others. But that’s pride and fear, and those are tools of the enemy to hinder your prayer life.
God created His Body to need each other. We don’t need each other to have it all together all the time. We need each other to be needy so that we can step in and support each other.
There is no substitute for corporate prayer and worship. Praying with others strengthens both faith and fellowship.
If your prayer life is weak because you simply don’t pray, the accountability of a scheduled prayer meeting can be just what you need to revitalize your prayer life. Join a corporate prayer meeting at your church, or ask a friend or two to pray with you regularly in a more intimate setting.
“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matthew 18:19-20).”
How to Strengthen a Weak Prayer Life
Sometimes, the simplest way to strengthen a weak prayer life is by changing it up. Try something new. Pray in a way you haven’t prayed before. Find a new spot to pray in. Pray at different times. Add new things to your prayer request list.
Right now, in this moment, before you move on to the next thing in your day, take a moment to try one thing on this list of ways to strengthen your prayer life:
- Praise God for one aspect of His character or thank Him for one thing He has done for you.
- Spend a few moments in quiet reflection and examine your heart. Are you harbouring any sin? If so, simply confess it to Jesus and receive His forgiveness.
- Pick one person in your life who has a need right now. Pray for them.
- How are you really feeling in this moment? What’s been consuming your thoughts lately? Tell God about it.
- What is one tangible thing you or someone you care about needs? Pray for a specific outcome.
- Read through a short psalm (like Psalm 23). Read it again, stopping after each line or verse and responding in prayer.
- Does your church have an upcoming prayer meeting? Put it into your calendar. Is there a Bible study group you could join where they pray together? Sign up and put it into your calendar. Or call a friend, confess your struggle with prayer, and ask if she would pray with you.
If your prayer life is weak, pray about it! God loves your desire to grow in prayer, so you can trust Him to answer that prayer!