Most of us have struggled in our prayer lives. So, should we feel guilty and condemn ourselves? Should we give up on prayer, hoping our good works, faithful church attendance and generous giving might offset the reality that our prayer lives aren’t what they should be? How can you improve your prayer life?
1. Be honest! “I needed to re-examine the scripture in James 5:16,” confesses Bible teacher Denise Joyce Williams. It says the prayers of the righteous carry weight with the Lord. “It also states that we must ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’”
Williams continues: I didn’t realize it at the time, but I needed to be honest with fellow believers that I was struggling with finding quality time to cultivate my prayer life. I needed their support, their prayers and their love to help me get through the dry season I was experiencing in my prayer life. The times of pretending, hiding and borderline lying about how much time I was spending with God needed to stop. Immediately.
2. Be humble! “Humility recognizes who we are and who God is. A humble person will therefore yield to God, obey God,” advises Michael Fackerell. “A humble person, in recognizing who God is, will praise God, and will adore God. Our true worship to God is the place where not only do we say we love God, but we are laying down our lives and putting our bodies themselves at God’s disposal.”
Fackerell continues: Romans 12:1 says that when we offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, this is our reasonable service of worship. When we are occupied with fulfilling our own desires, we usually miss the intimacy with God that could have been possible.
3. Bind Satan and demon powers away from your answer, teaches Pastor John Hamel. “This is a very simple thing to do. Simply say, ‘Satan and all demon spirits, I bind you away from me and away from the answer to my prayer. In Jesus’ Name.’ You see, the Bible says that Satan is constantly looking to hinder our prayers, keeping them from being answered. ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Ephesians 6:12).”
Hamel continues: These demonic principalities and powers are indeed in the Earth and constantly looking to hinder our prayers and all of our work for God. However, Jesus gave us authority to “bind” them, in His Name, thereby freezing them in their tracks, stopping every hindrance. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).
Hamel adds: When a believer says, “Satan, I bind you away from my prayer answer, in Jesus’ Name,” God Himself promises to back up that command from Heaven.
4. Do not pray to Jesus. “That’s right,” says Hamel. “Somebody once said to us, ‘But I’ve been praying to Jesus all my life.’ I asked, ‘Well, have you been getting good results?’ They answered, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, you probably want to make some changes then. Let me show you why from the Bible, in Jesus’ own words.’ ‘And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’ (John 16:23) Notice here that Jesus Himself said that we are to ask ‘nothing’ of Him. He made it perfectly clear that all prayer should be directed to ‘The Father’ in Jesus’ Name.”
5. Don’t let faithless conversation dilute a faith-filled prayer. “Many believers pray positively and then talk negatively,” says Hamel. “For example, someone might pray, ‘Father, I ask You for an extra $50 to pay my phone bill, in Jesus’ Name.’ As soon as they pray that prayer, they might speak with someone who asks, ‘Are you going to be able to pay that extra $50 on the phone bill?’ The believer who prayed might respond, ‘It sure doesn’t look like it. I hope so.’ That’s unbelief. Without faith it’s absolutely impossible to be pleasing to the God of faith (Hebrews 11:6).”
Hamel continues: Look at what Jesus said regarding speaking positively over our prayers. “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain (symbolic of an obstacle or a need), Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23).
“Notice,” writes Hamel, “Jesus made a point of teaching believers that they will have what they ‘say.’ not only what they ‘pray.’ Notice here that Jesus used the word ‘say’ or ‘saith’ a combined total of three times. He used the word ‘believe’ one time. So, listen to the way you are speaking about your answer.”
6. Don’t recite pointless words. “I wanted God to teach me how to pray,” writes Williams. “I searched the word and Matthew 6:9 Jesus tells the disciples how not to pray. He talked in the previous verses about ‘vain repetitions.’ In other words, I shouldn’t try to impress God with selfish, distant prayers. I needed to be honest with God about whatever I needed at that moment.”
Williams continues: “The next thing God revealed to me was that I needed to have conversations with the Lord, not feel like prayer is a forced, painful ritual that requires me to put in time. When I re-read the Lord’s prayer I learned to talk to God which is what praying really is” – and quit reciting empty words.
7. Establish a Personal Relationship with God. “This, in my opinion, is the #1 ‘secret’ for getting your prayers answered by God the Father,” writes Bible teacher Mike Bradley. “Here is the Scripture verse that completely captures this principle. ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples’ (John 15:7). Look very, very carefully at this verse to see what Jesus is trying to tell you if you want to be able to get God to answer more of your specific prayers.”
“‘If you abide in Me’ is telling you that the first thing God wants from you in order to be able to properly approach Him for prayer is a personal relationship with Him!” explains Bradley. “God cannot be tricked or duped. You cannot approach God trying to enter this kind of personal relationship in order to get Him to give you all of your wants and desires.”
Bradley continues: “Your motives must be pure! You enter into a relationship with God because you want to get to know Him personally! You don’t enter into this kind of a relationship to see how much He can give you. You have to ‘want God’ for who He is – not for what He can do for you.”
8. Pursue intimacy with God. “The apostle John was a man who loved to be close to Jesus and experience the anointing of God. John was referred to as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ and was one of the inner ring within Jesus’ 12 main disciples,” writes Fackerell. “John was involved when he and Peter ministered to the crippled man, and that man began to ‘walk and leap and praise God’ (Acts 3).
Fackerell continues: If we are going to move in the supernatural of God, we must pursue intimacy with God. This means being close to God, letting God touch our hearts, and learning to touch the heart of God. It means listening to the promptings of the Spirit of God and obeying them.
9. Relax! “The Lord showed me that I was simply making too much of a production of prayer,” advises Williams. “When I used to do this, it would make praying a burdensome task and I’d feel bondage instead of freedom. The Lord showed me that praying isn’t a prison. It’s a way to simply talk to my best friend – Jesus! I didn’t have to have a structured prayer time every day. I could pray to the Father any time of day, any day of the week.”
“Tradition taught me to set aside a prayer time daily that may include a set time to begin and end,” says Williams. “The Lord showed me that I could pray in my car, in class, at work or even when preparing dinner for my family. I could pray when washing dishes or while I’m cleaning the bathroom. I learned that my prayers to God don’t have to have formality they just need to be sincere.”
10. Thank God for your answered prayer… before you even see it, says Hamel “That’s right, before you even see it. Jesus said, ‘Therefore I say unto you, Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them’ (Mark 11:24). It takes faith to say, ‘Father, I thank You that my need is met, in Jesus’ Name,’ before the $50, or whatever it is you might need, can actually be seen. So, thank the Father for answering your prayer … before you see proof that He has done so.
11. Trust in the Lord! “I learned that God loves when we talk to Him,” writes Williams. “He loves when we are honest with Him and tell Him our vulnerabilities so He can fix what ails us. He wants us to cast all of our cares on Him. I’m so glad I sought the Lord about prayer because it freed me from the traditions of men that I was taught concerning prayer.”
“Yes I could still have a set time daily to meet the Lord in prayer if I choose to,” writes Williams, “but if I miss that time, I could still talk to the Father and He will honor my prayer.”
The reason why I love the Lord so much,” writes Williams, “is because when we struggle with issues, He speaks the answers. He loves us too much to allow us to feel any bondage because whom Jesus set free is free indeed.”
“Talk to the Father where ever you are. Have an honest conversation with the Lord. Make Him your best friend. That is the secret of prayer.”