5 Moves Toward a Stronger Prayer Life

Published on 28 September 2023 at 22:44

Do you need something to be grateful for today?

Spiritual growth and maturity are a lifelong process.

There will never come a day, whether you've been a Christian for one year or fifty, that God expects you to wake up and have reached the peak of spiritual maturity. I don't believe there even is such an attainable thing, but that the only who would ever walk the Earth as the perfectly mature Christian was Jesus. There was no room for improvement or growth, because He was God, and thus, He was perfection. Perfect love, perfect peace, perfect patience, perfect goodness, perfect self-control, perfect kindness, perfect faithfulness. He was the Word, and the Word was God. 

Like I said, unattainable. But although we will never reach the spiritual perfection of Jesus, does not mean we are not called to strive to mirror his image as best we can. We are told to run the race so that we may earn our eternal reward of the Kingdom of God. Now as an English Language Arts teacher and word enthusiast, I consider the term "kingdom" and examine what this consists of:

1. A sovereign ruler- God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)

2. A territory/domain- Realm of Heaven

3. A constitution- God's covenant with his people that he will never leave us nor forsake us, and those who accept his son as savior shall live in glory for all eternity. 

4. A citizenry- God's chosen and called people, you and I as daughters

5. The Law- acceptable principles to live by in the eyes of the Lord, His word.

6. Privileges- the everlasting and unconditional love and grace of the Lord of all creation, and the eternal glory of heaven

7. A code of ethics- pleasing lifestyle and conduct in obedience to the commands of God; judging our choices and actions according to His truth, and not the world.

8. An army- angels, Heavenly Host

 

Now, as a disciple maker on mission for Christ and to bring as many people to heaven with me as I can, the citizenry of a kingdom stands out to me. As Christians, we can sing in worship all day about the longing for heaven and the experience of one day relishing in its splendor. But as humans, we are easily blinded by the magnificent and glimmering exterior and miss the greater substance within. That substance of the Kingdom of heaven being the citizenry that inhabits it, God's chosen children. God created us to thrive in community, and not only in this lifetime, but in His perfect kingdom we were always intended for. So, as we pursue our eternal goal, we should be growing alongside our brothers and sisters, and encouraging their spiritual growth as well. Now don't misunderstand, striving for our eternal goal does not mean that we live a Christian lifestyle solely to earn residence in heaven. Our eternal goal should be to see as many of God's children in heaven with us, knowing that we did our part by exhibiting Christ's love and proclaiming God's holiness to the broken world we were never designed for from the beginning. 

As we pursue our eternal goal,

we should be growing alongside

our brothers and sisters and encouraging

their spiritual growth as well.

 

These heart changes of the broken begin with trust, which develops into relationship, and eventually creates a spiritual environment for the Holy Spirit to work through. To develop these relationships with others, we need to have some level of spiritual maturity that enables us to meet others where they are at, and help guide them closer to Jesus, just as He did with his disciples during his Earth-side ministry. So, we train and develop our spiritual muscles. We discipline our minds and challenge ourselves to more radical death to self each new morning. With this in mind and with the encouragement of growing alongside faithful women, I asked God to open my eyes to where he wants to grow me. I asked Him to reveal to me where and how He wants more intimacy in our relationship. And of course, he was faithful.

In my walk over the past year, prayer has been the area in greatest need of discipline.  I will admit that my prayer life is one of the weakest areas of my relationship with the Lord. There are days when, in all transparency, I don't even feel like praying. I wake up, and the conscious thought crosses my mind to go to God with my first attention, but I don't. When a trusted friend comes to me asking for prayer, I respond with assurance that I am going to the Lord to fight on their behalf, but I don't.

Welcome to Favored and Forged, where I'm a sinner and I will be honest with you about it. 

Eventually, I felt the Lord calling out to me with what my heart could only discern as a tone of despair and desperation, pleading to me, "Heather, why don't you care to talk to me? My son died so that you could come to me whenever you want, with whatever you want. I know your heart, I formed it in your mother's womb. Not only does your heart need this conversation, but I delight in talking to my daughter".

It was then that I realized that prayer is a not a chore, but a privilege. Remember those components of a kingdom I mentioned? Privileges are included, and what greater privilege than for a citizen to be able to go sit before the throne of a King without appointment, without offering, without anything other than an eager and trusting heart. It's unheard of, especially in today's world of hierarchy. But we don't serve A king, we serve THE king.

Prayer is not a chore, 

but a privilege. 

 

And in my pursuit of experiencing the depths to which He wants to take our relationship, He has taught me five strategies that have strengthened my prayer life greatly. My prayer today is that one, if not more of these might echo in your heart and encourage you to evaluate your prayer life as well. 

 

1. Fasting- Fasting does not necessarily mean food. I would encourage fasting from something you consider critical or normal for your everyday. Abstaining from eating, watching TV, social media, etc. My prayers became more focused, and my heart felt more reliant on the Lord for his bread of life and his living water. 

2. Voice Memo Prayers- A God-fearing friend of mine introduced me to Voice Memo prayers. When I receive a prayer request, or even at a later time, I send a quick prayer through a voice message. Not only does it hold me accountable, but there is something about receiving verbal prayer that is so encouraging. Another tip: keep your prayer request list and spend a car ride sending out prayers!

3. Thanking God First- When you approach God with thanksgiving before your requests, something in your heart shifts and you realize that all those things you were going to ask for don't seem nearly as crucial to your spiritual wellbeing. Open in prayer simply by thanking God for being himself, then watch your prayer posture and reverence for the Lord intensify.

4. Getting Angry with God- Let me explain. I would go to God in prayer for two reasons. One, to thank Him for a blessing. Two, to ask Him for a new blessing. Although I never believed my relationship with God to be transactional, my prayer life certainly reflected something of a "give thanks then request" tone. When I study Jesus and His prayers to God during His human ministry, I see how much he lamented and spoke to God with every tone from praise to despair. My point being, go to God when you're angry. Let Him know you are frustrated. Exclaim your hurt and cry to him in your heartbreak. Also, use a tone that matches your emotions. I'm not expressing my anger with a prim and proper voice. I'm shouting, I'm feeling, and then I'm releasing it all to Him. 

5. Prayer Journaling- I've never felt more connected and in tune with the Holy Spirit then when I am writing my prayers. It forces me to slow down. As I take the time to form each letter, my mind is quieted, steady, and I can better discern what the Holy Spirit is speaking. We are conditioned to instant gratification and our senses are numbed by a fast-paced society. So, this will feel uncomfortable, slowing down and listening in the quiet. But with a still, silent space, what distractions are left to get in His way?

Praise God that we have the rest of our lives to put these into practice. His promises in Genesis are the same promises in 2023. We may not wake up tomorrow as ferocious prayer warriors, but we can take a step forward in growth knowing that God uses it all, each small step, for good. 

 

God, thank you that we can leave the offerings behind. Thank you for your desire of our longing heart and nothing more as we approach your throne at any time, any place, and always with the confidence in knowing that not only are you there with us, but you have been waiting for us to come to you. I pray that my sister who is reading this, you would speak to her heart and reveal to her how you desire to grow closer to her in prayer. Make known to her what that looks like in her life and soften her heart to be receptive to what you have taught me; that these habits might foster a deeper, more frequent dialogue with you. In Jesus's name, amen. 

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Comments

Laura Stoicescu
9 months ago

Thank you, Heather! Amazing post. I found myself in your words as I read it. I love the practical steps.

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