Praying is a discipline that is an up and down for me. You are probably thinking, “but David you are a missionary, and are perfect, and follow in the footsteps of others in ministry who had so much to do that they had to wake up earlier so they could pray more.” Well, no. I am very in and out and was appalled the other day when someone said something about me being a prayer warrior. I did not respond or correct them though I knew it to be far from the truth. The reality is that I am pretty random. My strides to be consistent in the morning have failed often due to wandering thoughts, wandering tasks and most of all, wandering children. But there have been many times in my life when my prayer life has been kick-started and I thought I would list just a few:
- Tribulation: Probably the number one kick-starter for a good prayer life is a good tribulation. Something goes wrong. The baby is sick. A close friend has cancer. Persecution looms. Difficulties are inevitable in life and we all pass through them; (yes, even those in churches who have the promise of a prosperous life for their faithful). Once we hit them we realize that only God can solve the problems and we tend to be more serious about our prayer life.
- Financial Needs: A financial difficulty could also be under the classification of a tribulation, but I separated it here because people are pretty close to their financial needs. When there is no bread, the Lord’s prayer is there to ask for the daily bread. We are building a house but have not found a good loan yet and that has caused us to pray more. We need God to answer; otherwise we don’t receive what we want (and prayer helps us realize that maybe we do not need what we want).
- A good prayer book: There are some great prayer books out there. Jim Cymbala, Mark Batterson, AW Tozer, (I am guessing Kay Arthur and Beth Moore both have written on the topic), E.M. Bounds and maybe even Bruce Wilkinson (although some would say that book brought in the Prosperity Gospel). I read Circle Maker by Mark Batterson last year and it made a huge difference in my prayer life. I grew in my prayer life during that time.
- Deliberate morning worship: After going to some prayer services where we sang and then prayed I decided to include singing in my prayer time. If you go to my youtube channel I have my favorite praise and worship songs separated out so that I can go through them and think about the love of God, majesty of God and worship Him through music. Worship is part of prayer and has made a difference when I realize that the better part of prayer is concentrating on God rather than on my needs and wants.
- Hanging around a prayer warrior: Growing up in church we had a man in a wheelchair named Brother Jack. He would ask you to help him “practice” praying. I know he prayed more than he did anything else (besides maybe smiling). Although the thought of such people is sometimes overwhelming because we know we could never be like them, it does help us to pray just a little bit more.
- Prayer education: Learning that you do not have to close your eyes and bow your head to pray has helped me quite a bit. Prayer is a conversation throughout the day that includes many small prayers that do not start with a reverent “Heavenly Father” or end with an emphatic “Amen.” God knows when we are talking to Him and prefers the relationship. The “written off by theologians” book The Shack taught me that God wants us as part of the trinity in terms of our fellowship. The Trinity has a close interpersonal relationship and God wants the same fellowship with us. Every aspect in our life intertwining around Him.
I know that there are many more kick-starters in our prayer life and I also know that we should not need a kick-start! Prayer should be consistent in our lives, but for all you people like me that are unholy and lack in your prayer life, I hope these help. What kick-starters are on your list?