Do you have a system that you use to converse and communicate with God or is it just dependent upon how you feel at the moment?
One of the beautiful things about God is that he gives us freedom to reach out to him in our own way, but that doesn’t mean that a system for effective praying isn’t a good idea. I know that it is very easy for me to get distracted and not pray like I should.
Consider the words of David in Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
This verse gives us three tips for effective prayer to start the day.
1. Start your day in prayer
I don’t think it is a coincidence that David says “in the morning.” Usually we are freshest in the morning. It is here that we establish direction for the rest of the day. If you start your day off on the wrong foot it doesn’t usually get better from there.
These words remind us to come before God in the morning. God desires a relationship with us and what better way to solidify that relationship than spending time together in the morning?
If you start your day in prayer it has a way of centering your faith, your work, your relationships and your life. I can’t come before God in prayer without taking a look inside my heart and examining what is there. If I have sin in my life I have to deal with it before I pray. If I have a relationship with someone, and that relationship is out of line, I have to fix it before I pray.
By beginning your day with God, you force yourself to realign what is important and make sure that you are living your life accordingly.
2. Don’t be afraid to make requests to God
What kind of requests do you make of God? Are they generic or specific?
There is an acrostic for making S.M.A.R.T. Goals. It looks like this:
So if you are going to make a goal it should be specific, have a measurable outcome, be attainable, be realistic, and set with a time frame in mind for its completion.
What it we did that with our prayers?
God asks us to present our requests to him.
I wonder how many of us actually are specific in what we need:
- Please give me good recall as I take this test this morning
- Help me to understand the depression my spouse is dealing with and say something today to minister to his or her needs
- Give me the ability to relate to my teenaged daughter and give her wise counsel in her decisions about going on that date Saturday night
- Strengthen my faith each morning as I go through this cancer diagnosis
Let me be clear, I am not talking about putting restraints on God.
He works according to his timetable and in ways that only he can fully fathom. However, by putting some S.M.A.R.T constraints on our prayer requests it can make our prayer walk with him closer and make the next point easier.
3. Wait expectantly for God to answer
Here is a gut-check question: do you even really expect God to answer you?
Sometimes we pray and don’t even look for God to answer us. Perhaps no one really modeled praying for you. Maybe something didn’t turn out the way that you wanted it to and now you blame God. You pray because you know you are supposed to, but you really don’t expect an answer because you aren’t waiting expectantly.
Perhaps you haven’t offered a specific enough prayer and so you don’t really know what answer to be waiting for.
This verse says that we are to wait expectantly for an answer.
If we pray fully expecting God to answer our prayers, we are more likely to recognize the answer when we see it.
When I come out of a prayer expecting God to answer, then I am looking for that answer in everything! Each person I meet could be an answer to my prayer. Each circumstance I face could be the one used to show me how God answered my prayer.
When you wait in expectation you begin to see God at work in the little things and those things come together in a mighty way.
So what kind of prayers are you praying? Do you start in the morning to set your day off on the right track? Do you make specific requests for God to answer? Are you praying and expecting an answer to your prayers?
If we were to pray like this, might that change the type of prayers we prayed?
Try it out. I would love to hear of a time that you prayed this way and how God answered your prayers. Please comment below.