The KISS principle (“Keep It Simple Stupid”) applies to intercession. Countless seminars, sermon series, and books on prayer leave us with the impression that the subject is so complicated we dare not try it until we are skilled at it.
Think about it. Do you really think God could ever be impressed by our choice of words? Is there any evidence in the Bible that God prefers long prayers over short ones? Jesus didn’t think so.
Matthew 6:7 says, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” If God is not looking for an impressive vocabulary or a large word count in our prayers, what does He value? Simplicity and sincerity! Like children coming to their parents, so we come to God. We bring our heart cries to a loving Father.
2. Use a pen and a pad to enhance your prayer life.
Even though we might not write out the majority of our prayers completely, keeping a prayer journal of our requests is a way to encourage specificity in our prayers. Through the years I have kept a running list of my requests on one side of a legal tablet, and how God answered that request on the corresponding side. Such a record keeps me focused when I speak to God, it jogs my ever-diminishing memory about important items to talk with God about, and it provides a great reminder of God’s past faithfulness.
Conversing with God should involve more than asking. Jesus’ model in Matthew 6 teaches us that our prayers should include our genuine desire for God’s glory, a confession of sin, and an adoration of God’s name.
But the majority of the prayer includes requests for specific action by God on our behalf (“give us bread,” “forgive our sins,” and “deliver us from evil”).
In fact, as I look at the greatest prayers in the Bible including the model prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus’ priestly prayer in John 17, or Paul’s prayers for the Philippian Christians in Philippians 1, each of them contain specific requests. I have not been able to find a prayer anywhere in the Bible in which the pray-er was not asking God to do something.
Paul encouraged the Philippians to “tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for his answers (Philippians 4:6).” Keeping a record of your requests to God is an invaluable tool for doing just that.
3. Begin and end your day with prayer
How you begin and how you end your day are critical to all the moments in between. King David understood the importance of beginning each day talking with and listening to God: “In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch. For Thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Thee (Psalm 5:3-4).”
Here’s a simple suggestion. Before you allow your feet to touch the floor in the morning, take a moment and speak to God about your plans, your concerns, and your desire for His blessing. You will be amazed at how beginning your day talking with God will increase your desire to continue the conversation throughout the day.
Likewise, before you drift off to sleep at night take a moment to close your day in prayer. Psalm 4:4-5 says, “Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the Lord.”
By spending the final moments of his day confessing his transgressions throughout the day, expressing his gratitude for God’s favor, and acknowledging his dependence on God’s protection through the night hours, David would be offering “sacrifices of righteousness.” And he encourages us to do the same.
4. Redeem those random moments
If you are like me, your life is filled with important meetings to attend, decisions to make, and activities to perform. But between those critical events each day are minutes of time that can be easily frittered away as we await the “next big event.” I’m referring to time in the car driving an appointment, standing in line at the post office or supermarket, or waiting for the next appointment. Some people always have a book to read or a report to complete on their computer. But most of us will simply waste that time, concluding that there is not enough time to do something substantial.
Why not use that time to engage in conversation with God? Pray for those you care about. Ask God to give you favor as you await “the next big thing.” Confess that you are tired and need His strength. Request God’s wisdom regarding a decision you are confronting later in the day.
You don’t even have to wait for a lull in the day’s activities to pray. It is possible (and profitable) to converse with God even as you perform other tasks.
The more you pray . . . the more you will continue to pray. And therein is the secret to developing a praying heart.
"Conversing with God should involve more than asking."