Prayer is sometimes called the backbone of Christian life.
For some it come effortlessly, but for many the discipline of prayer is more of a challenge. It can seem like an intimidating concept – both the idea of communing with the God of the universe and the practicalities of how to do so amid an overloaded schedule.
The lack of quality or quantity of prayer in our lives can leave us feeling condemned, and even less inclined to pray. And thus begins the vicious cycle of prayerlessness.
Sometimes a jump start is necessary to kick this cycle. Here are three ways to reinvigorate your prayer life:
1. Don't be afraid to schedule God in
Discipline is not a popular word in today's society, and the idea of choosing a fixed time of the day or place to pray is subsequently an unpopular one. It feels a little religious; a bit rigid. Like it might limit God or remove his Spirit from your prayer time. However, there is a lot to be said for carving out a time each day for prayer. Maybe using your lunch hour, or getting up a little earlier.
It might feel awkward at first, but as you build the habit you will start to see the fruits. Just as when you invest regular time with a friend or spouse and that relationship develops, you can expect the same if you prioritise spending time daily with God.
This is not to limit prayer to that 20 or 45 minute slot, but it is a good launching point. Of course, you are free to pray outside of this time, but having an allotted period marked out provides a good basis for your prayer life.
2. Take the Bible with you when you pray
You've sat down in your allotted place at your allotted time. What now? Having 45 minutes stretching out before you can feel intimidating. Do you list your requests to God? Or spend some time soaking? The blank canvas can feel crippling.
One way to overcome this feeling of purposelessness is to bring the Bible into your prayer time. It is the Word of God and one of the key ways God speaks to us. It can both be a really helpful tool to prompt thought or meditation during prayer and as a guide to actually praying.
Reading the Word brings us out of the world and into the Kingdom, in that it fills our mind with God's words. If you are looking for inspiration for how to pray, you need look no further than the Psalms, which can be helpful in showing ways we can relate to God.
3. Pray with other people
Prayer often evokes images of solitude; an individual praying quietly in a corner. And it is true that the Bible instructs us to pray secretly: "Go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen," (Matthew 6:6). There is a place for solitude in prayer, but there is also room for company. The Bible also says: "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
It is both encouraging and helpful in keeping us accountable when we commit to praying with others. We often associate corporate prayer with church on a Sunday, and this is one good setting for it, but there is also room for prayer with friends in a more casual setting. Maybe arrange and commit to seeing a friend for coffee once a week and pray for each other.
Prayer is a privilege. It's the way that we get to communicate with our Creator and draws us closer to God and others.
Follow Florence Taylor on Twitter: @Flo_Taylor