Growing up in the church, I’ve always heard people say that prayer is important. It wasn’t until this year that I realized that not all Christians know how to have a strong prayer life. I began to examine my own prayer life and studied Scriptures about prayer to learn how I could build a stronger prayer life.
What is prayer in Christian life? Prayer is how Christian communicate with God. They are able to express their praise and thanks to Him, ask for forgiveness, pray for their personal needs and other people. A Christian’s life should be filled with prayer because they desire to speak to God and for Him to speak back to them.
Table of Contents:
- 10 Steps Towards a Mature Prayer Life
- Jesus – A Biblical Example of A Mature Prayer Live
- 3 Lessons from Jesus’ Prayer Life
While studying the Bible on the topic of prayer, I discovered ten steps to help Christians build a more mature prayer life.
10 Steps Towards a Mature Prayer Life
I hope these ten steps will help you in your personal prayer life. Even if you already have a strong prayer life, we can always go deeper in our prayer time with God which ultimately grows our relationship with Him.
1. Pray Daily
Praying daily will help you grow in your prayer life because you are prioritizing God each and every day. You are giving Him praise and seeking Him when you pray daily.
You can set a reminder on your phone, a sticky note on your mirror, or an alarm to go off at a certain time to help you remember to pray. After a while, it will become a habit and apart of your day. Try not to think of praying daily as a chore or something to check off your to-do list.
Pray because you are able and free to do so. Pray with thanksgiving in your heart. Pray because God loved you so much He sent His son to die on a cross for you. Pray out of an overflow of gratitude from your heart.
When you don’t feel like praying, pray anyways. Pray and ask God to help your heart. You can make a verbal list of all the blessings you have in your life to help you remind your heart that you are grateful.
By praying daily, it helps you to remember that God is the most important part of your life. You are sitting Him on the throne in your heart.
Because he bends down to listen,Psalm 116:2
I will pray as long as I have breath!
2. Give Praise
During your prayer, take time to give praise to God. He has blessed us greatly and the least we can do is thank and praise Him for who He is.
Don’t know where to start? Here are five ideas:
- Praise Him for Salvation (John 3:16)
- Praise Him for His Mercy (Psalm 86:5)
- Praise Him for His Love (2 Chronicles 6:14)
- Praise Him for Goodness (1 Timothy 4:4)
- Praise Him for His Kindness (Titus 3:4-6)
Another idea would be to read the Scripture associated with a specific attribute of God. God is deserving of all our praise and we should be diligent about praising Him during our prayer time.
Praise the Lord, all you nations;Psalm 117
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.
We live in a world filled with noise. Our lives are busy and we are always doing something. During your prayer time, stop the noise and listen to what God is speaking to you. Take control of your mind and don’t let your mind wander. Take this time to fully focus on God.
Practical tips when turning away distractions:
- Put your phone into airplane mode (no notifications will come through then)
- Set an alarm for however long have to listen
- Put your phone out of sight (less tempting to look at)
- Have a notepad and pen to write down a to-do list
The reason behind the last tip is because so often when I sit down to pray and listen to God, I immediately remember all the things I haven’t completed for school or work. When these things come to mind, write them down quickly and go right back to listening.
We can easily ramble on and on in our prayers, say “Amen” and move on. Prayer is a two-way conversation. It’s important that we learn how to hear God’s voice. If you aren’t sure how to hear what God is saying to you, I would recommend reading, 21 ways to recognizing God’s Multi-Faceted Voice by Carl Anderson. This book helped me learn how God is speaking to me and how to recognize His voice.
By being quiet, we are denying our flesh the desire to always be busy and have noise. We are not only being quiet externally (no music or talking) but we are also quieting our minds and hearts as well. We are letting resting in God’s presence and giving Him our full attention.
God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.Mother Teresa
4. Ask for Forgiveness
When praying, it’s also important to seek forgiveness for your sins. We have all fallen short of God’s glory and sinned. When we speak out our sins and ask Him to cleanse us, we are admitting what we did wrong and that we need His mercy.
Another aspect of forgiveness talked about in the Bible is speaking your sin to a fellow brother or sister in Christ, James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Along with confessing your sin to God, speak your sins to your mentor, a leader in your church, or a friend who is a strong believer. When we confess our sins to one another, we are weakening sins hold on that area of our life. Confess your sins to God and to a fellow believer so that you may be healed and your prayers can be powerful!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
5. Pray for Others
When you pray for others, you are taking your eyes off yourself and focusing on others who need God to enter into their lives and situations. Praying for others also allows you to intercede on behalf of another person.
Not sure where to start? Here are 7 ideas:
- Pray for your family members
- Pray for your friends
- Pray for people trapped in human trafficking around the world
- Pray for an unreached people group (here is a link with unreached people groups)
- Pray for the persecuted church
- Pray for hardships you have seen on the news
- Pray for the world alphabetical
Regarding the last point, there are 196 states are the world, which breaks down to 16 places a month. You could purchase a world map and put pins on where you are praying to help you visualize where in the world you are praying for.
It’s a privilege to pray on behalf of other people and bring their needs before God. This helps us to stop focusing on ourselves but to focus on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and for people who do not yet know Him.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…1 Timothy 2:1
6. Pray Scripture
When you pray Scripture, you are speaking the Word of God back to Him. You are declaring His Word’s of truth. Three reasons we should pray Scripture is because Jesus prayed Scriptures, the Word of God is completely truthful, and it brings honor to God.
While on earth, Jesus prayed Scriptures. One example on is found in Matthew 27:46 when Jesus was hanging from the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This exact same prayer is found in Psalm 22. We can learn from Jesus praying from Scripture and bring it into our own prayer time.
Secondly, the Word of God is true. When we pray Scripture, we can know what we are praying is completely truthful since it comes from God.
Lastly, when we pray Scripture we are bringing honor and glory to God. We are telling God we believe the Bible and will speak out His words that are filled with truth. Praying Scriptures is one way we can give God the honor He deserves. The Word of God is powerful and we can speak His words in truth during our prayer time.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
7. Memorize Scripture
We memorize Scripture because it’s God Word and we want to bring His truth into our hearts. Once we have memorized Scripture, we can pray it and have it hidden in our prayers.
One practical reason to memorize Scripture is that you can pray passages from the Bible without having a Bible with you. You are able to pray Scripture wherever you are.Memorizing Scripture is another way to honor God and then you can pray Scripture when you don’t have access to a Bible.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.Colossians 3:16
8. Pray with Others
Another way to strengthen your prayer life is to pray with other people. Join together with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and seek God in prayer.
Reasons to pray with others include:
- To create unity
- To help build community
- To help you focus
- To grow as a group
- You can learn from other people’s insight
- You are inviting God into your group
- Opportunity to see God answer prayers together
The most important reason to pray together is God is with us when we do. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God is with us when we pray in a group.
We are able to learn from others and their insight when we pray in a group and it helps to encourage us and build our faith. Praying alongside other believers helps us to stay focused and allows God to move and work in a group of people.
True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that. It is a spiritual transaction with the creator of Heaven and Earth.Charles Spurgeon
9. Pray Without Ceasing
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God calls us to pray without ceasing. As followers of Christ, we should be praying all throughout our day.
While this Scripture may seem impossible to achieve think about it like this: you are creating a lifestyle of prayer. You can pray no matter where you are work, school, in the car, the library, and so on. If you are out in public, you can pray in your heart. God still hears the prayers you say in your heart.
This does mean you should stop setting aside time to pray each day, but to pray throughout the day including your prayer time. The more we pray, the more we realize how great God is and how we need Him to be with us every second of our lives.
Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.St. Augustine
10. Pray Believing
To pray believing means when to believe in God and that He will work all things out for good. Even if he didn’t answer your prayers, He knows what’s best and we don’t always understand God’s timing.
We can all learn from the man whose son was possessed with demons and when Jesus told him, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” He immediately responded with, ” I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-25). We too can ask Jesus to help us with our belief.
The man who asked for help with his unbelief is an example to us of how we need to be humble and ask Jesus to help our own unbelief. Ask Jesus to help your heart to believe in Him. When you pray, remember who you are praying to and say out loud, “I believe in you, Jesus.”
Give me faith, Lord, and let me help others find itLeo Tolstoy
Jesus – A Biblical Example of A Mature Prayer Live
The Bible repeatedly speaks about Jesus leaving the crowd and going off by himself to pray. Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Jesus, the son of God, knew the importance of prayer. We can learn from how Jesus prayed and incorporate it into our own prayer lives.
The Lord’s Prayer
One day, the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray. This is how Jesus responded,
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
This prayer has been named the Lord’s prayer. Jesus tells us to pray differently than we typically do. We usually pray for ourselves and then go on with our day, but Jesus tells us to start off by praising God and asking for His will to be done. Then, ask for your daily bread and for forgiveness.
Since this is how Jesus says to pray, I would recommend praying this prayer during your prayer times sometimes or modeling it. You could pray the Lord’s prayer before you go to bed or when you wake up.
Jesus’ Prayer in the Garden
After Jesus had the last supper with his disciples, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus went off to pray alone and asked the disciples to be praying too.
He knew his death was near and he cried out, “My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it.” Then, a little while later, he said, “If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
The “cup” stood for Jesus’ death. Jesus knew the deep pain that was to come and asked if the Father could remove it from Him. His flesh desired to not carry the burden on dying for the sins of the world. Even in the midst of such anguish, Jesus asks for his Father’s will to be done.
It goes on to say Jesus was in such distress he began sweating drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Hematidrosis is the medical term for sweating blood. This only happens when your body is in “fight-or-flight” mode and in intense stress. The stress Jesus was under was immeasurable.
Jesus experienced real and raw human emotions. He knows what it feels like to have the weight of the world on your shoulders. When we are in times of pain, we can remember that Jesus experienced pain and knows what’s like. We can also remember to pray as Jesus did and turn our face to God and cry out to Him.
We can learn from how Jesus prayed even in the middle of pain. He still turned to the Father. We can also turn to God in our times of struggle and hurt. God will be waiting to hear us and listen to our prayers just as He listened to Jesus while he was praying in the garden.
Jesus’ Prayer on the Cross
Jesus prayed even when he was hanging from the cross. In Luke 23:33-34 it says, “When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”
Jesus is asking God to forgive the people who nailed him to the cross. Instead of being bitter towards them, he asks for their forgiveness. Jesus is showing the Roman soldiers mercy. The soldiers didn’t deserve mercy, yet Jesus was still merciful towards them.
Jesus shows us how to pray for people who hurt and persecute you. He chose to forgive, even in the middle of His pain and suffering. We can also choose to forgive people and pray for them.
Please note, just because we forgive people doesn’t mean what they did to us was right. If we don’t forgive people who hurt us, we become bitter inside and our hearts become closed off. The reason we forgive people who hurt us is that it frees our hearts and lay that burden down. We can forgive people who hurt us just as Jesus did on the cross.
3 Lessons from Jesus’ Prayer Life
While reading about Jesus giving the disciples the Lord’s prayer and his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, I found three lessons I learned from Jesus’s prayer life.
1. Pray in Secret
Jesus took time to pray alone in secret. He got away from the crowds and his disciples and prayed. Our days can be so busy and filled with noise and activities. We can learn from Jesus the importance of spending time with God alone.
The reason we spent time with God to pray on our own, is that we need to be filled up spiritually. If we don’t spend time in His presence, we will become dry. We can’t serve the kingdom of God if we are dry, we need to be filled with God’s presence.
This isn’t to say we will always feel like having prayer times every day. Some days, it will be hard, but we can still make the choice to seek God even when it’s hard. We can deny our flesh and what we want, to prioritize God. We can remember that God is always listening to us and He longs to spent time with us because we are His children.
2. Pray During all Circumstances
Jesus prayed before He was crucified and while hanging on the cross. He prayed all the time. He didn’t just pray during the good times or only in hard times. He prayed during both.
We can learn to pray in all circumstances. We can give glory to God in the midst of hardship and in good times. Often times, it can be easy to only pray during the hard times, but God deserves praise for the good times because everything good comes from Him.
It could be as simple as thanking God for a friend you recently connected with or praising Him for your job. By praying thanksgiving to God, your heart will become filled with gratitude. You are teaching your heart how to be grateful for the blessings God has given you.
3. Pray for Others
Jesus shows us that we should pray for others. He prays for the Roman soldiers who crucified him. He also before he raises Lazarus from the dead in John 11. From this, we learn the importance of praying for others.
By praying for others, we are choosing to focus on someone else and ask God to intervene in their life. It helps us to not only focus on ourselves during our prayer time but to show care and concern for people in our lives.
Jesus is our example of how to live our life. If He prayed for other people, it is important. Since we cannot control situations that other people are in, we can pray for them and ask God to be with them.
As Christians, we should want to have a more mature prayer life because this means they would be growing their relationship with God. Since prayer is how we communicate to God, the more we learn how to pray and listen during our prayer time, the more we can hear from Him.
When we take the time during our prayer time to be quiet and to rest in God’s presence, we are allowing Him to direct our hearts and mind. We are setting aside the failures and mistakes we made and allowing ourselves to be at peace in His presence.
Now that you have read 10 steps to a more mature prayer life and read stories of how Jesus prayed, it is time to put in into action. Remember, prayer is not simply another task to check from your to-do list, it is valuable time spend with God. Take time to be in God’s presence and pray from your heart.
There is no perfect formula for prayer and the truth is sometimes it’s hard to pray. When we push through and pray even when it’s difficult we can trust that God will always meet us right where we are at, in the good times and bad.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.Jeremiah 29:12