Spend any length of time around Christians or church environments and you’ll hear people talk about how our faith is about a personal relationship with Jesus.
But what few people discuss is how hard it can feel to actually do the personal relating to Jesus. Bible reading can be confusing. Prayer can feel awkward. It all sounds so daunting.
Is there a way to make spending time with God more appealing?
If you’d like to enjoy time with God in a more significant way, I hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming four-week class, “How to Spend Time with God” (deadline to register is 2/22).
But in this post, I want to share three ways that have recently helped me connect with God and enjoy prayer more than I previously had.
1. Praying the Lord’s Prayer in my own words.
This idea came from Tim Keller’s book, Prayer, and he got the idea from Martin Luther. Keller writes:
Praying the Great Prayer forces us to use all the full language and basic forms of prayer. If left to ourselves we are likely to pray only about the items that most trouble us at the moment. The petitions “hallowed be thy name” and “thy kingdom come” lead us to pray for the progress of the gospel in our community and society and relationships. “Thy will be done” presses us to accept some things that God has allowed that are troubling us. “Forgive us our debts” brings us to list our most recent sins and failings, while “as we forgive our debtors” forces us to ask ourselves about our resentments and grudges. Praying the Lord’s Prayer forces us to look for things to thank and praise God for in our dark times, and it presses us to repent and seek forgiveness during times of prosperity and success.
What I like is that I end up praying through important, kingdom-minded things without falling into just a mindless, rote approach.
2. Using My Body
In one of my recent seminary classes on church history, the professor commented that all the examples of prayer in the Scriptures or early church history describe people standing, kneeling, or laying prostrate — never sitting. This is why he’d begin and end each class by saying, “Let’s stand and pray.”
This doesn’t mean that sitting is wrong, but it does illustrate that prayer is to engage us as whole people: mind and body. Perhaps we struggle to stay focused in prayer in part because we don’t engage our bodies.
I’ve often enjoyed prayer walking for this same reason.
3. Using the PrayerMate app.
Some time back I read a book where the author described making a prayer card for each person you intend to pray for regularly so that you can keep the same things in front of you until God answers them. Great idea, but I don’t want to carry around a stack of cards.
Enter PrayerMate — a free app that does this exact thing and then presents you with a random list of cards each day. You can link it to contacts in your phone, add photos, and even subscribe to feeds of organizations who request prayer.
Here’s a video about it.
Here’s to spending more time with God — and enjoying it!
Oh, and go register for this upcoming class.