Developing a Consistent Prayer Life

Mark Messick - Connections & Next Steps | Relational Discipleship Network

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Any study of the topic of prayer, will quickly lead someone to these 3 verses in 1 Thessalonians. We know that a vital prayer life is critical for us as disciple makers, so how do you get to that point in your spiritual life where prayer becomes a much more consistent behavior in your life?

Give thanks in all circumstances

I know I’m not the first to do this, but these three verses have greater meaning and usefulness for me when placed in reverse order. I’ve come to realize that a consistent prayer life begins with “giving thanks in all circumstances.” I was taught that gratitude is the best footing upon which to begin my time with the Lord. Before entering into prayer for the first time each morning, I’ll first navigate feelings I am processing on that particular occasion. I’ll write these feelings down in a journal. Often times, these feelings will feel contradictory. I’ll feel peaceful in one area of my life, yet anxious about another upcoming event. My heart will feel hopeful and enthusiastic yet also frustrated and disappointed. My mind can navigate multiple feelings simultaneously.

Each morning, write 3-4 sentences in your journal describing to God how you are feeling. You may need to ask God to help you understand what you are navigating and why you are feeling that way. There may be a lie that you’ve allowed to take root and take over in an area of your life. The fruit of that lie is now presented in those feelings. You are seeking to take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ.

Next, write 3-4 sentences about how grateful you are. Your gratitude will eat your feelings for breakfast. Think through the numerous blessings of God and communicate those back to Him in humility and gratitude.

“While I am feeling alone, I know that you are always with me. While I am afraid, I know that Your perfect love casts out all fear. While I feel hopeless about this situation, I know that those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed.”

At this point in your prayer or journaling, you are giving thanks to God in all circumstances.

Pray continually

Gratitude in my loving Savior leads me to pray without ceasing. I will not approach God unless I truly believe that He is Almighty God and a rewarder of those who seek Him. His promises are

true. He is the epitome of faithfulness. A grateful reminder of His blessings become a daily “re-boot” that renews my mind, helps me remove the distractions, and refreshes my faith. Gratitude becomes a strong diving board into a deep and abiding prayer life.

Upon entering His gates with thanksgiving and gratitude in your heart, you give the Lord your complete attention, sharing with your Heavenly Father and listening to His loving voice. Prayer becomes your first response instead of your last resort. Each interruption becomes an opportunity to pray. Every difficulty you face becomes an occasion to pray. Prayer becomes an intimate and ongoing conversation. Prayer becomes your oxygen in a toxic environment.

When I am in a disciple-making relationship with someone, the Lord is faithful to often remind me to lift them up in prayer. One of the greatest gifts that I could offer others is my prayers. Before entering into a conversation, I pray for the Lord to give me wisdom beyond my own understanding. When a friend mentions a need or concern, I pray with them immediately. I’m continually asking Him to do immeasurably more than we could even think or imagine.

There’s also nothing wrong with using technology to help aid your prayer life. My Reminders app contains numerous prayer requests of the people I’m discipling. I place those lists where I can see them often, reminding me to pray. My Calendar app has been known to include the dates of upcoming surgeries, procedures, due dates, job interviews, and court cases. I want to diligently pray for those I am seeking to invest and disciple. The dullest pencil is certainly better than the sharpest memory.

Be joyful always

And finally, once prayer increases in frequency and intimacy, the natural result will be the spiritual fruit of joy. It will be no difficult task to be “joyful always”. As Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we enter into a deep, abiding love relationship with the Lord, the joy of the Lord certainly becomes our strength.

Give thanks in all circumstances. Pray continually. Be joyful always. Make disciples of King Jesus!

by

Mark Messick
Next Steps & Connections
Relational Discipleship Network
rdn.org