One of the big themes found in Luke’s Gospel is prayer. Specifically, we see how important prayer was for Jesus’ own life and ministry. For example, it’s when Jesus is praying that God speaks from heaven and sends the Spirit upon him (3:21). Before he chooses the twelve apostles, Jesus spends the entire night in prayer (6:12). Jesus will even regularly step away from ministry to be in prayerful fellowship with God (5:16). Furthermore, Jesus not only taught his disciples to imitate him in prayer and never lose heart in going to God (11:1-4; 18:1).
Yet, for most of us, prayer is a struggle. We feel much more like the disciples who fell asleep than Jesus who spent the night talking to God. Yet, Jesus never meant for prayer to be a struggle for his people. So, what can we do? How can we grow in our prayer lives and begin to imitate Jesus? Here are two simple suggestions to help jump-start a flagging prayer life.
Start Small and Be Disciplined
To begin with, start one prayer at a time. Don’t expect that if you can hardly give five or ten minutes a day to pray that you will successfully spend the whole night in prayer like Jesus. Start small and be disciplined. Make a list of people and needs, read over a passage of Scripture to gain encouragement, set an alarm for ten minutes, and pray until you pray.
Do that every day for two weeks. Then, up your time and go for fifteen minutes. After another two weeks, move it up to twenty or twenty-five minutes a day. Good habits can be formed just like bad habits. And the goal here is to develop a habit of prayer. That may not seem all that spiritual. But the truth is, most spiritual delights begin as spiritual duties. In other words, after prayer is a regular part of your daily life, it will break open to you and be far more than a routine discipline. Your time with God in prayer will be something you look forward to.
Remember God and Be Encouraged
What motivates us to pray and encourages us to continue in it? God himself. Remember God the Father—the one to whom you’re praying. Remember he is a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing who is both just and merciful. Remember he is a Father who loves his children, able to answer prayer and willing to answer prayer.
Then, remember Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Remember what he has done for you through is cross and resurrection. Remember his life and how every righteous deed and every temptation overcome was for you. Remember how he even now intercedes at the throne of God—for you.
Finally, remember the gift of God the Holy Spirit. Remember how the Father and Son have sent him into your heart, that you might call out in prayer with confidence in God’s love for you. Remember that he is the gift that leads us to hear and believe the promises of God; even the promises of God hearing the prayers of his people. Remember these things and be encouraged to pray.
This is not the end all of a deep and consistent prayer life. There is much more that could be said and others have done so. But these are some simple suggestions that, if followed, will get you out of a rut of prayerlessness. More than that, they will help you keep going in your prayer life in the weeks and months to come, even during times of spiritual dryness.
Now, let’s pray.