In February, we have been exploring how to strengthen your prayer life – one of the most frequently asked questions I hear. Prayer is a foundation for all healthy spirituality and most of us have a strong desire to be with God more deeply in prayer.
The last Thursdays on Tending the Holy Thursdays we’ve looked at the flow of prayer and 3 practical prayer habits. Next week I will tell you the story of one man’s habit of unceasing prayers and how he lived a life of prayer.
Don’t forget to get the free download to accompany the month’s topic. This month I took a PDF I offered one time last year and expanded it to include new information. “Prayer: 13 Ideas for Keeping Prayer Fresh” is available at no cost by clicking the button at the end of this post. I added ideas for prayer triggers and included a list of well-loved prayers from others, besides adding new resources. It is my hope and prayer that this series and the download will enhance your walk with God.
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5 Tools to Strengthen Your Prayer Life
Keep it simple. Don’t think we need all sorts of fancy gadgets, organizers, or detailed schedules for prayer. Simply talk with God.
But there are times humans need anchors to stabilize us, guides to lead us and gizmos to awake our semi-conscious spirit to meet God.
Here are 5 prayer tools to help: products, postures, ponderings, papers, and patterns to strengthen our prayer life.
Prayer Tools #1 – Prayer Products
Calendar – use your calendar or to-do list as a framework for your prayers. Begin each day talk with God about your plans or should I remind myself to say: God’s plans. The first item I have written my electronic calendar so I see each day are these words: “I surrender my agenda to You and I will walk the path YOU have for me today, even if it means deviating from my own.”
Reminders – I have had fun setting up reminders on my smartphone to think about God. Hearing the simple chirp every day at 12:30 helps me pause and pray. It beeps again at 2:00 to prompt me to say thank you.
I use IFTTT – If This, Then That – a fun app. So If it is 12:30, send me a text to say – remember to pause and pray.
On my computer I use ECHO – https://new.echoprayer.com and receive two daily reminders for specific prayers from my list. Echo lets you keep a list of every single one of your prayers. You can add as many prayers as you want, organize them into groups, delete old prayers, and even mark prayers as answered so you can see how God is working and remember to thank Him!
I have also heard about Prayermate but haven’t used it.
And I do love my app called CenteringPrayer which lead me into quiet time with a gentle gong for whatever length of time I want to rest in the Lord, then softly rings again at the end of the set time. A great set of prayers are available there too. You can find the app in the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store if you have an Android; search for Centering Prayer, select the one by Contemplative Outreach.
All these apps are free by the way.
Prayer Tools #2 – Prayer Posture
Using our bodies to amplify prayer provides another aspect of deepening our prayer experience.
Prayer walking gets both the body and the spirit moving. I shoot “arrow” or quick short prayers toward houses I pass on my walk. I have also sent these types of prayers as I drive past homes, churches and businesses.
I was surprised to learn that sitting down to pray only became the standard when pews were created in the 16th century. Before that most people stood for prayer, knelt or lay prostrate on the floor.
Walking a labyrinth is one of my favorite ways to pray. A few years back I wrote about my experience with a labyrinth on the island of Iona.
A labyrinth is not a maze but follows a single path, that twists and turns representing our journey in life. The time spent walking its circuit is calming, insightful, and always gives life to my prayer.
Prayer Tools #3 – Prayer Ponderings
Holding questions, talking them over with God and staying even in the uncomfortableness of uncertainty enhances and deepens prayers. There is power to questions as I wrote about in this post.
Example of prayer questions to ponder are:
- What place does prayer play in your life right now?
- What joys do you find in your prayer life?
- What struggles do you have with prayer?
- What distracts you from prayer?
- What role does silence have in your prayers?
Prayer Tools #4 – Prayer Papers
We can’t just read about prayer to strengthen our prayer life, we must pray. But reading what others write about prayer often leads us to new perspectives and ideas to try. On the free PDF in this blog series, I have included some suggested books on prayer.
Something as simply as praying the psalms. Read one of the psalms through, then pray it in your own words. Or find a word or phrase from any Bible verse to repeat slowly as you offer it back to God.
Writing out your prayers in a journal has always been a key method of praying for me. Sometimes I list who I am praying for and then later add how the prayer was answered in a different color of ink. I also write out my conversations with God. I tend to carry on, whine, complain, though occasionally but not often enough say thank you. I find the words I think come from God to be simple, direct and full of love.
Prayer Tools #5 – Prayer Patterns
It was fun finding different acronyms to frame a prayer. Here are a few I discovered:
A stands for “adoration.” Begin the prayer by simply adoring God for who He is.
C stands for “confession.” Spend some time confessing your sins.
T stands for “thanksgiving.” Take time to thank God for the blessings that He has given to you and your family.
S stands for “supplication.” Lift up specific areas of your life in which you need God to supply for your needs.
T – Thanks – for whom/for what am I thankful?
R – Regret – what has caused me regret?
I – Intercession: For whom, for what do I need to pray?
P – Purpose – what action is God calling me to take today?
P– Praise (tell God how great God is)
R – Report (tell God about what’s been going on in your life both good and bad)
A – Ask (tell God your prayer requests)
Y – Yield (spend time handing over your life and circumstances to the will of God)
Another pattern is to follow the liturgy of the hours or divine office I wrote about last week.
5 prayer tools to help you: products, postures, ponderings, papers, and patterns in strengthening your prayer life.
Don’t forget I have an updated and expanded PDF “Prayer: 13 Ideas for Keeping Prayer Fresh” available free by clicking this button.
What tools help you pray? Let’s add to this list and share with one another.
P. S. AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT
Looking for a new devotional for Lent? My latest book, 40 Voices: A Lenten Devotion is now available on Amazon. I hope it blesses your journey by hearing the voices of the places and people in Jesus’ last week on earth. And would love to have you leave a review on Amazon too if you read it.
Wow Jean, I agree with Nancy. This is a rich post! All those wonderful acronyms to help with prayer…and the apps too! The most intriguing one for me is the centering prayer reminder. A gong sounds so wonderful, and then a little sound to signal the end of prayer? Perfect.
You are truly doing and encouraging God’s work here. Keep it going!
Jean Wise says
Thanks Ceil, I really enjoyed this series too. The centering prayer app is one of my favorites. I set the timer for 10-15 minutes and it is so gentle at the entrance and exit of those times with God. I can relax and sink into prayer with it. Thanks for your encouraging words.
Nancy Ruegg says
Jean! You’ve outdone yourself with so many wonderful tools to freshen our prayer lives. I plan to implement a number of these strategies slowly but surely, to expand the pleasure of prayer into more moments of my days. One strategy that I enjoy is recording requests on 3 x 5 cards and rotating through the stack, 7-10 people or organizations per day. The cards provide plenty of room for updates and answers when they come. I’ve saved the old cards–a big stack–as proof to myself of God’s never-ending, often surprising and miraculous work. Some cards record prayers that weren’t answered as I would choose. I sometimes struggle with “why,” but never with God’s love or wisdom in all situations.
Jean Wise says
You made me laugh! I really enjoyed this series and learned a ton. Helped me refocus too. God is so good. I love your 3.5 card method. I read some about prayer cards done that way but forgot to share that idea. You could write a great post about that on your blog. And love that you keep the stack. wow that is amazing. Have a wonderful weekend!
Dolly @ Soulstops.com says
So many great tips…I plan on featuring one of your prayer posts on my Feb. List …And I’m sorry, I haven’t read your book yet…trying to keep up with my seminary reading….but I did add it to my GoodReads…am reading list 🙂
Jean Wise says
Thanks Dolly for sharing one of my prayer posts. This has been a fun series to write. I know I learned lot too. And thanks for your support with the book. A review sometime before Lent starts would be great.
Martha Orlando says
So many wonderful tips and tools to enhance our prayer life, Jean – thank you!
Just to give you a heads-up, my blog tomorrow will feature 40 Voices as I will highly recommend your splendid and thoughtful book to my readers. It will be a blessing to me as I embark on my Lenten journey, and I know it will be for others, too. Hope you sell lots! 🙂
Jean Wise says
Thanks Martha. This has been a fun series to put together. and wow I am floored to be on your blog. Thanks so much