Designate A Meeting Place
Having a particular place/space where you go to pray alone if at all possible. I am blessed to have an extra little closet in my bedroom where I can go to pray. Typically, regardless of where I live, I carve out a space in my home to commit to as my place of prayer. In this space, I hang several things that we’ll talk about a little more later. For those that don’t know, I was in education for 20 years and thinking about thinking has always been a bit of a nerdy obsession of mine. Research shows that having a consistent place to do anything you want to do consistently is key to meeting that goal. One main reason is that we are creatures of habit. So if your brain knows that this is where we go to pray, you will begin to automatically go into a mode of prayer when you get to that place. Therefore, your prayer place needs to be isolated and free from distraction- human or otherwise (clutter, mess, noise or unpleasant smells etc. 😉 Whatever patterns or habits of behavior you establish in this space, you will automatically continue to do. So have a consistent place/space within your day that is conducive to intimate conversations with God.
Pray All The Time
…without stopping- Many people take the Lord’s name in vain all of the time. We blurt out His name as though it’s just a phrase of exasperation, “Lord”, “Jesus”, “Oh God”. Some people go straight to cursing or using minced curse words like “shoot “or” dang.” Let me flip this for you and use it to show that In reality, we’re already primed to pray all the time anyway. If we are God’s children, when we call His name, we have His attention. He’s the one person that always wants to hear from us and is actually interested in every detail of our lives. When we make a practice of praying all the time, we’re simply cashing in on the audience we already have with God. God cares; He’s right there all of the time, waiting, ready to talk with us. He is certainly already talking to us all of the time if we would lean in and talk back in the little minutia in life. In the car, in traffic, as we wait in line, when we awake, as we are lying in bed falling to sleep -instead of worrying and mulling over our list of what’s not going right or what we have to do- we could actually be talking those things over with God. Instead of picking up the phone whenever something great or exciting or even disappointing or unbelievable happens, we can just have a little talk with the Lord and share with Him what is on our mind. To that point, the Bible says we are to pray persistently (without ceasing).
God likes to be asked so ask until He answers. He is capable of giving us much more than we could ever comprehend, want or need. Some blessings He will give to us just by proximity, just by being in the right place at the right time. Like being in the house of worship when the praises go up and the blessing of joy, peace, or deliverance may just fall on you because you were in the room. But as a general rule -and don’t ask me why because…I could give you my opinion but in reality I don’t know why- He just likes for us to ask for things. Even more so, we often need to not just ask, but to keep asking. There are several times in my life and in the word of God where He honors persistence. Take the following for example. Jesus had just traveled to a particular town to minister to the Jewish people there. A woman from a different providence came to ask Him to heal her daughter. Watch this Jesus didn’t tell her no; in fact, he didn’t tell her anything! Instead He flat out ignored her! She was so persistent though that the disciples asked Him to send her away. He finally told her in a very analogous way that He needed to feed his family first not throw the food meant for sons to dogs. To which she humbly persisted, even the dogs get the children’s scraps that fall from the table. The humble, faith filled response triggered Christ to heal her daughter who was still far away in that instant. He says for us to seek (not glance or look one time- the word seek implies effort over time) and we shall find; knock (translated keep on knocking) and the door shall be opened. He expects for us to continue requesting until we have an answer from Him. Why would we not? Perhaps the reason we don’t have some things is because we stopped expecting, we stopped waiting, we stopped asking too soon.
Call God By Name
God has specific names that access or speak to different parts of His person. For instance, He can give us peace but Jehovah Shalom can show up and be peace for us as well because Jehovah Shalom means God is peace. Yet there are times when I need Jehovah Sabaoth to command His angels to war on my behalf because He is the Lord of Heavenly Hosts and we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. So Knowing the names of God and calling the names of God as we need Him to operate in that way just makes your prayers more efficient and focused.
Pray the Word of God
I’ve mentioned this before but praying the word of God back to God is like reminding God of things that He has already promised in His word. While this is a powerful strategy in prayer, it also requires that we are intentional about committing the Word Of God to our heart. I intentionally didn’t say memorize because hiding the word in your heart is so much more than that. Intimately knowing the word of God means you have committed to knowing as much of His word as you can. When we pray according to His will, the Bible says, we have what we have asked. We definitely get more bang for our buck when we pray the word of God back to God because He reveals His will to us in His Word. Additionally, talking to God about things that He has said or already done in scripture leads us to be able to thank Him in advance.
Keep A Thank You List Instead Of A Grocery List
I mentioned earlier to have a particular space and place to pray. I hang a list of answered prayers in my prayer space which presently happens to be a closet . Sometimes I’ve simply used Stickie notes. Whenever God answered or prayer for me or for anyone else, I was standing in agreement with for something or when God blessed me or someone I love, I’d write it on a stickie and post it on the wall in my prayer area. I’d change colors each month to keep track of the progression of God answering prayers over time. This time I have a huge chart paper hanging in my empty closet and I write the answers/blessings out on the paper, using a different color for each month and simply place a new sheet over the old one when I run out of room. When I pray, I read through some of the things on the list and thank Him for them before I begin to make requests. This practice has several benefits. One, it makes me mindful to focus on the things that God has done already and not so much on the negative things happening. Also, I look forward to adding things to the list, so it makes me live with a spirit of expectation because I know God wants me to keep adding to the list. Eventually, I realize that even after a month or two goes by, I can’t go through and read the whole list every time you pray, or I’d be thanking God for most of our prayer time! I love and recommend hanging it up because when I’m tempted to be down, I can look at it-without even reading and see how much God has already done in a year; then when I flip back and read, I’m reminded of how awesome He is and I go into my time of supplication with more faith and confidence from reflecting over what He has ALREADY done. Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite prayer Hacks; Psalms tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and enter His courts with praise. I enjoy this one so much because going before our Father with a grateful heart actually helps us pray in faith.
Take Time To Listen
Okay, I lied, this is probably my favorite prayer Hack 😉 Conversation is never one way by very definition of the Word. Therefore, once you’ve spoken to God, take time to wait for answers, or just for what God needs to say in that time. Listen; listen; tarry; wait on the Lord, leaning in, listening, waiting to hear Him speak. One reason I like to pray with headphones and have created whole prayer playlists with specific praise and worship songs, is for this time right here. Often God speaks to us through music. As an added bonus, playing music in your ear drowns out the distractions and noise of the world. I’ve also heard the Lord tell me to begin to bring a journal or notebook to my prayer time. This practice is especially crucial when in fasted prayer but it’s also important any time you are listening to God. Simply put, we are only human meaning being forgetful comes with the territory. Imagine all that is on the heart of God. All that He has to put into small bites for us to comprehend and apply directly to our lives and the lives of the destinies that are attached to our own. Praying with a notebook is another show of faith to God that we are expecting to hear back from Him and I don’t want to miss or get wrong what You are saying to me Lord. Also, God operates outside of time; It stands to reason that He will often tell us things that don’t manifest for years or even decades. So when the season comes when it’s applicable, we don’t have to go back and ask Him again because we can simply pull out the place where we kept note of the things God told us in the past. God often builds on things and clarifies directions, answers, comfort, thoughts that He is giving us over time. We absolutely cannot fathom the things that are on the mind of God. So it’s presumptuous at best and arrogant at most to think that we can capture what He says to us solely by trying to think it back up. Also, we have to put in the work of taking time to still ourselves. Sometimes we may only write through tears that It’s going to be alright. Sometimes we are reviewing what He has already told us. Sometimes, he’s just downloading peace, comfort, feelings of overwhelming love that cannot be captured in words so you may write nothing. But you wanna’ be ready for anything. Listening should be happening all throughout prayer. But should definitely be an intentional part of the conversation.
How about telling God, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”