We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible's idea of prayer is that we may get to know God himself. -Oswald Chambers
Prayer is first and foremost a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some people think of prayer as a business transaction or as something they have to do just like checking something off a to-do list. But that isn't really prayer at all. Think of prayer in intimate terms, like a conversation between close friends. What are some words you think of when you think of an intimate friendship? You probably think of words like loving, caring, warm, sincere, personal and intimate. These are words that should be used to describe our prayer time with the Lord. Prayer should not be dry or stuffy; it should be warm and intimate.
Every believer can have a dynamic personal prayer life. The Bible gives us the keys we need to develop a powerful prayer life. The Scriptures are full of examples of men and women who walked with God and used prayer to impact their world, and you can do the same thing through prayer.
Here are 8 Scriptural ways you can develop a deeper more fulfilling personal prayer life:
1. Pray in Jesus' Name
Real prayer is focused on Jesus Christ. Numerous Bible references talk about the importance of praying in the Name of Jesus. Jesus Himself said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you" (John 16:23). When we pray in the Name of Jesus, God the Father hears us. He responds to the prayer offered in the name of his Son Jesus, because our relationship with God is through the Son.
2. Pray According to God's Will
God is not a Santa Clause in the sky; he does not give us anything we ask for. But in 1 John 5:14 it says, "If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." This means that when we pray in accordance with his will we can expect an answer.
3. Scriptural Prayer
One of the best ways to pray is according to the Scriptures. If God's Word is in our hearts, then his desires become our desires and we can have assurance he will answer our prayers. Make sure your prayers are in line with Scripture. The Lord always honors his word.
4. Keep Commandments
God honors those who honor his commandments. Jesus said, "Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 3:22).
God wants us to have faith that he will hear our prayers. Jesus said, "Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matthew 21:22). The Lord promises to respond to our prayer of faith.
6. Pray in the Spirit
Paul tells us to pray at all times in the Spirit. Romans 8:26 reads, "Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered." We don't always know how to pray, and we don't always feel like praying. Therefore we need the Spirit's power to help us pray.
7. Be Persistent
Don't give up if you haven't received an answer to your prayers. Throughout the Bible there are stories of men and women who persevered in prayer. In Luke 18:1-8 there was a little old widow who did not lose heart. James tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
8. Humble Yourself
Lastly, we are to humble ourselves in prayer. James 4:10 tells us to humble ourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt us. One of my favorite parables about prayer is in Luke 18:9-14, where the Pharisee and tax collector come before God. The Pharisee was proud and boastful, while the tax collector was humble and asked for God's mercy. We are told that God hears the prayer of the humble. If we humble ourselves in the sight of God, he will lift us up.
What else would you add? Share with us in the comments below.
This post is an excerpt from Make Mature Multiply: Becoming Fully Formed Disciples of Jesus, from GCD Books. This book is a great resource for your church to go through together as a whole-church series, or in small groups or Bible studies.
Winfield Bevens is founding Pastor of Church of the Outer Banks and author of several books. He speaks at conferences, workshops, and retreats throughout the US on a variety of biblical topics. He has a Doctorate from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.