How to Improve Your Prayer Life
Last week I gave a list of tools to help improve your prayer life. Many were pretty apps for your smart phone using modern technology in ways to keep us aware of the importance of prayer. While I think these tools can help you pray, I fought a nagging thought as I wrote the post. It is great to have reminders to do those things that you want to do, but if we don’t get at the root issue of our poor prayer lives, we add to our frustrations.
Several years ago I wrote about how to develop a prayer habit by looking at how marketers use advertising to buy their products. If we create a new belief about prayer, we can make a more lasting impact on our habit. This belief can be positive or negative, but if it gets to our core belief, it will cause a lasting change.
You Pray Out of What You Believe
Let’s look at a negative change. Assume you have someone close to you going through a tough challenge. Maybe their spouse is leaving them, maybe they have life-threatening disease, whatever it is, it is very significant in their lives and your’s by way of your relationship with them. Now if you believe in the power of prayer, you throw yourself headlong into prayer for their situation. If for whatever reason, they don’t come out of this situation the way we had hoped, our view of prayer can easily be tweaked.
Important events in our lives reinforce our core beliefs or create new ones. In the above situation, your mind will try to explain what happened. Maybe God no longer answers prayers. Maybe God doesn’t think you are worthy to get your prayers answered. Maybe you didn’t really know God’s will in the situation. Whatever belief enters in, you no longer believe that you can ask whatever you wish and it be given to you.
Once we have this new belief, we limit our prayers to safe trips, God being with people, His will being done, stuff we can’t measure. We lose our passion and drive to pray. No matter how many tools we use, if we have these negative beliefs, our prayers will always have a glass ceiling of what God can do through us.
How Do We Change Our Beliefs?
How do we correct these negative core beliefs? This is really how we will make the best change to our prayer lives and making it a habit. We need to create experiences that rewire our poor beliefs. Repeating God’s truths can prepare you to take risks in prayer, but at some point we need to take that risk to see if God will come through.
Think of an athlete. For years there was a belief that it was impossible to run a mile under four minutes. When it was finally broken in 1954, Roger Bannister open the flood gates for many other athletes to run the mile under four minutes. He created a new belief in the athletic world. Here is the thing, great athletes don’t look at initial failures as proof of what can’t be done. They keep working their craft until they reach their goals.
Inventors are the same. Thomas Edison failed around 10,000 times trying to create the light bulb. However he didn’t define his success by his failures; instead he is quoted saying he found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
Let’s Persevere in Prayer
Why do we give up so easily on prayer? Why do we let suspected failure define us or define who God is? We wholeheartedly hold the rock-solid truth of the Bible, but we let experience redefine the beliefs we live out of, as if we are better than the Bible.
What if 10% of the people you prayed for got better? What if you could increase that percentage with practice? Is this a goal worth pursuing? Do you think that 10% would be grateful for your prayers?
Tell Them God Loves Them
As I prayed about what to write this week, I felt God wanted me to tell you that He loves you. I know that this is something we can easily quote, but I felt He wanted me to tell you again so you would see areas in your life that you really didn’t believe that to be true.
If God really loves you, He will truly want what is best for you. He will want to give you the desires of your heart. He will be and do exactly what He has promised us. Whatever you think the experiences of your life has taught you, contrast them to this truth: God loves you. If you have core beliefs that contradicts this truth, I challenge you to work on creating new core beliefs.
A.W. Tozer is quoted saying that we each have as much of God as we really want. If you are not experiencing God in every area of your life, let’s pursue to change that. God loves you and wants to be with all the time and in every circumstance.
- What are some things you have believed that you have found to contradict the truth God loves you?
Thanks for this post. I needed to be reminded that God loves me. I am touched that God urged you write it.
I have a question. You mentioned in this post that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts and do what’s best for us. In so many words, He wants to bless us. But I read a devotional by Charles Stanley that talked about God blessing us not just for our benefit, but to bring other people to Himself too. He went on to say that God doesn’t just want to bless one person, and doesn’t want His blessing to just stay with you, but to spread to everyone. Is that really true? If it is, that kind of takes the joy out of receiving the blessing or seeing Him loving me. It’s like I, alone, don’t count.
I have another question. You mentioned, also, about setting a goal of having your prayers be answered for, hypothetically, 10% of the people you know, and over time, increasing that goal. Isn’t that in a way manipulating God? I don’t know if we really have that kind of control. Although, I do believe that we should pray in specifics, and not just in generalities. I had heard that however we pray, that is how God answers. If we pray in generalities, His answers are general. But if we pray in specifics, He gives specific answers. So that has encouraged me to pray in specifics for a long time. Sometimes, though, I do get discouraged when I read or hear stuff like “when your will lines up with God’s, then His desires will become your desires, and that’s when He gives you the desires of your heart”, because I never really know what His will is in any given situation, so most likely, my prayers will never line up with His will. So how do we really know if our specifics match up with God’s will?
Thanks for answering.
You have so much here. 🙂
1. Charles Stanley is a wonderful man of God. I didn’t read what you did, so I don’t know his intent. With regard to God blesses so we can be a blessing is kind of true. God is amazing at multitasking. He can use our blessings to bless others. He also wants us to be like Him being generous to those around us. But to think He blesses us only so we can bless someone else is harmful. It’s like saying He saves us from hell only so we can save someone else. He didn’t really care about us but it was the only way to get to that other person. Dangerous thinking.
2. Trying to increase our results in prayer does not have to be manipulation even though I can see where it could be. God wants to gives us everything we ask in prayer, but we don’t always see those results. Seeking to improve our results is coming into alignment with what God wants to give.
3. Finally our will lining up with God’s will. I don’t think I have space to adequately answer this question. Just know God made you and placed within you desires and dreams. Those are the deep longings of you heart which makes you unique from every other person on this planet. You are amazing and God wants you to live fully who He created you to be.
Thank you for you comments. You are a blessing.