Prayer is essential so here are some tips and suggestions to help you essentially pray:
- Aim to be consistent and regular in prayer – everyone is different in their pattern of prayer (e.g. hourly, daily, weekly etc.), but if you rarely pray or have no form or pattern it is unlikely that you would be consistent or regular in prayer.
- Set aside a time or marker for prayer – for example, first thing you do when you arise in the morning, following lunch (whenever that might be), in the shower, before you watch any TV etc. You may be the kind of person that can set a calendar reminder.
- Allow your prayer to be informed by scripture. Praying in response to a Bible passage is a helpful way to allow God’s word to shape your prayer life (and for that reason many put their Bible and Prayer time together – a ‘personal devotion’).
- Pray with purpose. J.C. Ryle (19th Century preacher and writer) encourages the person of faith to pray: reverently and humbly before the Lord, spiritually (relying on the Spirit to intercede), regularly (as part of the business of life), perseveringly, earnestly, faithfully, boldly and fully, particularly and thankfully.
- Be organised in what you pray – develop a system which prompts you to pray for things that are godly concerns and personal concerns.
- Pray as opportunity arises – See or hear a concern, use it as a prompt to pray. Join with others and pray for matters of immediate concern. Be spontaneous.
Some practical suggestions:
- Use a system – Two examples: Use a 31-Day Calendar and write onto each day what/who you are praying for – then pray for those things on the appointed day each month (keep a copy in your Bible or at the location where you most regularly pray). Or use a Prayer-Card System and write down whatever prayer concern you have on to a card, cycle through the cards a few at a time when you pray – this is an easy way to add and remove prayer concerns as they arise or resolve.
- Pray the Prayers of Scripture – There are wonderful prayers in both the Old and New Testaments which can be prayed as if they were your own prayer (e.g. 1 Chron 29:10-13; Ps 43; 145; Acts 4:24-30; Romans 11:33-36; Phil 1:9-11 etc.).
- Use a prayer journal – Record what you pray which has the added advantage of allowing you to look back at what and how God has answered your prayers.
- Use liturgical or set prayers – prayers like the Lord’s Prayer can be helpful because they cover the theological concerns of our Lord and apply them to our own circumstances. There is no reason you couldn’t write your own set prayers.
- Use technology to help prompt prayer – a Prayer App (e.g. ‘PrayerMate’ or ‘Echo’) or a recurring Calendar entry with message prompt can be very helpful in structuring prayer.
- Pray regularly with others – Praying with others can be a wonderful privilege and the opportunities (at least in the Western World) abound: with your spouse or a good friend, with the family, in ‘prayer triplets’, at church ‘Prayer Meetings’, in a Bible Study Group and more. And when you pray together, don’t just look inward to your own concerns – pray up (praising and calling upon God) and out (praying for those around you, including those who don’t know Jesus).
- Use Birthdays as a prompt for prayer – we generally know the birthdays of those we love most, so use their birthday as a prompt to pray for them. Facebook gives us a reminder each day of whose birthday it is – a great reminder to pray for your ‘friends’!
Whatever you do – Pray! And always remember ‘the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer’ (1 Peter 3:12 quoting Psalm 34:15).
 J.C. Ryle, A Call to Prayer (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth).
For other articles in this series:
Faithful in Prayer
Talking to God
Prayer in the Bible
Prayer in Western Society
Praying the Lord’s Way
Tips for Prayer