Have you ever been at a church meeting or gathering, and asked for someone to pray? Let me just guess how it went: 80% of the people quickly closed their eyes and folded their hands to indicate their preparedness to pray silently and the other 20% is the pastor or Sunday school teacher.
When I ask someone else to pray, I usually looked at like I had just asked someone to be the lead in a Broadway Play without a script. The reason why they won’t pray is usually the same:
“I don’t know what to say”
Prayer is fundamentally critical to our faith. Martin Luther famously said “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing”. Without prayer, we cannot have a relationship with Christ. Without a relationship with Christ, we cannot have faith. And without faith, we cannot be saved.
Now, I don’t think that Christians intentionally “don’t know what to say”. I think that there is one truth about prayer that most church goers have forgotten: Prayer is a ‘perishable skill’.
When I learned military orienteering (affectionately called ‘Land Nav’), it was the first time I had heard what a perishable skill was – a skill which, if not practiced regularly, will be lost and forgotten.
Prayer, if it is not practiced regularly, will be lost and forgotten.
So here are something I have found to be helpful in maintaining my prayer life (which I must admit, is poorly lacking currently).
- Talk normally – Prayer is meant to be a conversation between God and you. Christ already knows your heart, so no statement, question, or made up word is new to Him. You don’t need to be formal. Just talk.
- Create silence – Conversations are two ways, and yet too many Christians spend a few minutes rattling off concerns for friends, family members, and general concerns. Then they close with ‘Amen’, and get on with their day, never once giving God a chance to speak to them.
- Be intentional – Prayer is not just a component of a meal or worship service; prayer is the lifeblood of your relationship with God. Put some work into your prayer life: create time and space, practice talking to God, and practice listening.
- Become the answers to your prayers – Prayer can turn into a bit of a blow off gesture for churchgoers. “I’ll keep you in my prayers” is a statement that we (myself included) use to politely say “I’m not doing anything else”.When the disciples prayed, they prayed to be sent out, have doors opened to them, and to be gifted to preach the word of God.
We all need a vital prayer life. It sustains us in so many ways.