How do you pray more?

Here are four simple yet overlooked principles if you are hungry to draw close to the Lord. One of our Cornerstone Partners emailed us with this key question. 

Here is Anne’s question:

“You mentioned that at your time at Princeton, you would have a morning spiritual practice for two hours that really blessed you and others who did this. Was it praying, or Bible reading? I am trying to create a good daily practice of drawing closer to God and I love hearing what others do.”

Here is our response (with slight edits): 

It’s great to hear from you! Thanks for your reply. I’m so encouraged to hear about your love for the Lord and that Christian Union Day and Night has helped to grow your relationship with Him. I was dramatically impacted by Christian Union 12 years ago when I started ministering with them, especially through the Princeton experience that you mentioned. 

There were a few features of the two-hour window of time that made it so beneficial. 

First, we did it together. I doubt that I could have sustained spending two hours with the Lord every day if I did it all by myself. This aspect of seeking God in community is something that CU emphasizes because it’s biblical, very helpful, and not done commonly today. (See our Seven Principles of a Seeking God Lifestyle.) Believers in the Bible and in early church history mostly sought God together in times of prayer, worship, hearing God’s word read, etc. (e.g., Acts 2:42-46). But that’s not usually the case today, at least in America. Most Christians now only pray with others on Sunday mornings and maybe one other time in the week. Some American Christians never pray aloud with another Christian with the purpose of seeking God. That’s an unheard of phenomenon in New Testament Christianity. I suggest you get together with another Christian friend or two or a small group to read and pray and worship together. If you can’t do that in person, you could set up a phone/video call with a friend to pray together. I know friends who have scheduled prayer calls in the morning and evening most every day of the week in order to maintain a lifestyle of drawing near to God. 

Second, we devoted ourselves to a set period of time. If we want to grow in any area, it takes a commitment of time. Whether it's an academic subject, physical fitness, a personal relationship, a skill or a hobby, it takes time to make gains. If you can’t pray with others but want to spend more time with the Lord, it helps me if I fix a set period of time, like an hour. Then within that hour, set a period of time for Bible reading, worship, and prayer. If you want to spend more time than an hour, then divide up 2 or 3 hours in like manner, and then ask the Holy Spirit to meet you and lead you in your time that you have dedicated to God. I would add that it helps to use your physical body in seeking God – kneel, raise your hands, lie prostrate, pace, dance, weep, etc. Seek the Lord with your whole self.

Third, we always read/studied the Bible, prayed, and worshiped, although not always in the same proportion.  One of our guiding passages for this was Acts 6:4, “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  Some days, Matt would teach the Bible for an hour or we would watch a biblically-based message and then discuss and pray . Other days one of us would share a 15-minute Bible-based devotion on the topic of “seeking God” and then we would pray the rest of the time (1:45) with a short break after one hour. Sometimes we would sing a couple of songs or just focus on worship and praise with our prayers without music. Sometimes we would ask the Lord to speak to us, and then share what we had received after a few minutes of quiet. I suggest you combine prayer and word in some form, however you decide to divide your time. 

Lastly, we were diligent about not wasting the time. We spent 90% of our two hours in Bible study, worship, and prayer. We wanted to avoid the trap that can happen in prayer meetings where people chat and share prayer requests for 80% of the time and then only pray 20% of the time.  Maximize your time with the Lord. Your fellowship with one another will grow as you spend more time in the presence of God.

I hope some of these thoughts help you to draw close to the Lord. He is the Rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6)! Please let me know if you have any other questions or if we can support you in any other way.

God bless!
Chuck


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