We’ve been fired up around here lately. Not only are we cooking like crazy on our new grill, but we’ve got a fire pit that’s proving to be a huge hit, and not just with the younger set. Fresh pop corn and marshmallow goodness, here we come.
Sometimes, though, it takes a few tries to get a fire going. When we first replaced our old, lackluster grill, the shiny new model gave us some grief. The one-touch, oh-so-easy igniter did nothing. Turns out, it wasn’t plugged in to the power source. Nothing sadder on a Saturday night grill-out, than a fire that’s not firing up at all. Took a little fiddling, but we finally got the spark we needed.
Our prayer life, too, can sometimes lose its spark. As people stepping out to be all Christ created us to be, prayer is vital to living out the adventures God has for us. When you feel the fire going out of your prayers, here are five tips to try:
Put words in your mouth. The Bible contains God-breathed words of life to us (see last week’s post for a reminder). It makes sense, then, that praying those words back to Him helps focus and energize our prayers. For example, read a passage like Ephesians 1:17-19, and then personalize it into prayer back to God:
Glorious Father, I pray that you give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so I can know you better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened so I can know the hope to which you’ve called me, the rich inheritance you have for me, and the incomparably great power with which you work in and for me because I believe.
Pour on the praise. Nothing reignites my prayer life quite like praise, both spoken and sung. Focusing on the majesty and power of Christ puts my worries and concerns into perspective. As I worship the One who is “before all things and in whom all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), I often discover that what is causing me to feel “stuck” in my prayer time is simply fear. Praise helps me focus on how much greater God is than anything that I fear and builds my faith in Him.
Keep it real. Jesus knows us inside and out, so we don’t have to pretend in our prayers. I love the Psalms for their honesty. David and the other Psalmists don’t hide their emotions, whether grief or anger or joy, though they do approach God with reverence in the midst of those feelings. I often pray from Psalm 139:23, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts,” committing to honesty and openness before Him so that we can get to the bottom of whatever turmoil is happening inside me. Check out “Healing Prayer When Past Pain Roars Back to Life” for more on keeping it real with God.
Let the Spirit lead. We’ve been given the very Spirit of Christ inside us. Jesus told his followers that the Holy Spirit is our advocate or helper and guides us into all truth. That includes helping and guiding us in our prayer life. Even when we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit stands ready to “intercede for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). Open your prayer time by asking the Holy Spirit to take the lead “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). And for those who pray in tongues, don’t discount the value of this gift to build up your spirit. This can be a confusing issue in the church, but it shouldn’t be divisive, so I recommend a prayerful look at 1 Corinthians 14. I’ve found the wording in The Message version to be particularly helpful.
Don’t give up. Finally, even when our prayers aren’t exactly poppin’ at the moment, we can take heart that God rewards perseverance. James 1:4 encourages us to “let perseverance finish its work so that [we] may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” When we persevere in prayer, we are asking God not only to change something in our world but also to change us, forming us into mature people who know how to stand firm in the good fight of faith.