To follow Jesus, we seek – as He did – to be in communication with our Father. While our prayers never tell God anything new, a habit of prayer pleases Him – because His very nature is to desire relationship with those whom He has created. He wants to hear our hearts, and delights in speaking to us.
There are many different sorts of praying; and because this is ‘supernatural’ communication, it isn’t always easy for us where our experience is rooted in human speech. We may need to unlearn the ‘shopping list’ concept of prayer; and begin to express our love for God, learning to listen to Him, unload our fears, reflect our concerns, apologise for our failings, and partner with Him in releasing what He is seeking to do.
In the end, prayer is a state of being more than a series of appointments. The way that we develop this will vary, and our practices may change over the years. It’s good, when we can, to plan regular times that enable for us the privacy of stillness and encounter – alongside the privilege of praying with the wider Church family. Different patterns, resourced by the Holy Spirit, may help us shape and enrich our praying: contemplation, praying scripture, written prayers, unknown languages, and much more.
“Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God … will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds …”
Philippians 4 6,7, JB Phillips.
HOW to grow a healthy habit of: Prayer
Building a “healthy habit” of prayer needs realism, and starting with what you can achieve. Think about when works best in the pattern of your life, a quiet place (if possible!), and look for patterns or resources with the best “fit”.
If prayer in the broadest sense is simply communication with God, then there are no limits - talk to him about anything, anywhere, anytime! But starting a habit of a regular, intentional ‘prayer time’ is also a key component in walking with God.
- Be realistic, start with what you can achieve
- Establish a regular time that fits well with the pattern of your life; choose a quiet place
- It may help to write down a plan – perhaps starting with praise, worship and thanks; saying sorry for what you’ve got wrong; and asking your Father for His help in your (or others’) areas of need.
- Keeping a list will help you to track answered prayer.
- Some people find it helps to sit opposite an empty chair, and picture Jesus there.
- Try to keep a little time just to be still and to “listen”. Write down what you hear.