How to Simplify Your Prayer Life
Do you have someone in your life you could call at 3am with an emergency? Someone who you know wouldn’t be mad but instead more than glad to come to the rescue?
Calling that friend is like praying to God. Prayer is the connection line between us and Jesus. We don't have to pick up a phone and use wifi signals; we open our heart and pray in the Spirit!
But just as a phone only serves its purpose if we use it, prayer only works when we do it.
Prayer Works When We Pray
Simplified prayer is not dumbed-down prayer, but doable prayer.
Most of my life I have felt a twinge of guilt when I think about prayer, kind of how I can feel about maintaining long-distance friendships. I have come to realize that while certain friendships are for a reason, a season, or for life, friendship with Jesus is eternal. He's not going away, and He'll never stop loving me.
Let me say that to you: Jesus is not going away, and He will never stop loving you. Do you believe that?
Faith is picking up the phone. Faith is believing that Jesus loves being with you, and His enthusiasm for you never fades! Faith is drawing near to God because Jesus died for you, His Spirit is with you, and He has secured your spot in heaven with Him. And unlike a long-distance friend, He is already near to us!
How We Should Pray
So how can we be with Him when we have diapers to change, commutes to drive, tiredness to overcome? Life is complicated, but prayer doesn’t have to be.
We have to find a way to pray at all times, as unceasing as the in and out of the air in our lungs. Out goes the stress, in goes His refreshment. Prayer doesn’t have to be one weekly sit-down affair from the pews. We have to find a way to live with Him in the middle of our lives if we want real friendship with Him.
We have to find a way to simplify our prayer life.
Prayer isn't some cryptic code; if you know how to speak to someone, you already know how to pray! And Jesus tells us exactly how we should do it:
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil." Matthew 6:9-13
What Gets in The Way of Prayer
I've been saying these words almost every night with my husband and now kids for years. Sometimes it feels like I'm just saying the words from my mind instead of speaking from the heart. So I started prayer journaling using the Lord’s Prayer as a template for a year. Through this practice, I found that it helped break down many of the obstacles that complicate a life of prayer:
Getting distracted in prayer
Writing down the Lord's prayer and working through it line-by-line with pencil and paper keeps us on track. When we journal, we focus our mind and body into one singular effort so our thoughts have less space to wander. And it’s harder to fall asleep in the middle of writing!
Not knowing where to start
Sometimes we don't connect with long distance friends because we don't even know where to start the conversation. There's too much gray area: should we have remembered their kids' names? Should we say sorry for forgetting that birthday? It feels like there are too many unknowns and disconnects that we don't even pick up the phone.
But Jesus tells us exactly where to start: "Our Father in heaven." And we just keep going from there!
It's hard to pick up a conversation with someone with whom we feel at fault. We know we should have texted them back, but we forgot. And now too much time has passed and we have missed more events, which continues to build up the guilt wall.
But God isn't like that. If we feel guilty about not praying, as soon as we confess, that guilt wall crumbles like a veil torn in two. And there we are, face-to-face with a smiling God.
Regular confession keeps us close to the Lord, and journaling through the Lord's prayer gives us a daily opportunity to do just that: "Forgive us our trespasses."
Guilt can feel selfish and separates us from God. But because prayer is not about our own efforts anyways, we can start each week of prayer journaling with the Sabbath: an opportunity to rest in God's work. This is our chance to give thanks for what He has already done rather than what we have to do.
If we forget to pray for someone consistently, it can start to make us feel like we aren't good at this whole prayer thing. But the Lord's prayer includes a line "Give us Lord our daily bread," which is exactly the spot where we can pray for our needs and others in our lives.
To help remedy this, I have made it a habit to include different circles of people in my life each day of the week, based on Jesus's prayer in John 17. Praying with people in the moment is always best, but having a spot in a prayer journal can really help out, too!
Being angry at God
Being upset with God is normal. Have you ever read the Psalms? Those are some angry / sad / desperate prayers. While journaling through the Lord's prayer feels like a solid daily structure, there are times when we need to pour it all out on paper.
At the end of each week's prayer journaling template, I created some free-writing pages with space to feel all the feelings and give the ones we don't want to the Lord. There's also space to plan and dream, and to pray for others we might have forgotten about or didn't have room for one day.
Praying this way has really helped me feel grounded in my own prayer life. And when I shared this expanded prayer template with others, they felt like it helped simplify their prayer life and made it more doable, too.
Here's what some friends have said:
It is beautiful and I love the way it slows me down for just a few minutes to really focus on what I'm praying and who I'm praying for! —Ginny S
I LOVED IT! It’s just what I’ve been craving— truly— towards a more guided prayer life that helps to direct my steps and keep me from distraction. I love that it includes remembrance on the Sabbath, the fact that it asks us who we need to forgive and release (I rarely think of this but know that I should more often), and I really felt like the Holy Spirit used it to reveal what was truly on my heart. I think overall it does a great job of guiding but also allowing the Holy Spirit to lead with questions like “What is Your will for me today?” I am excited about this! I know the Lord delights in it and you, and I do too! —Neely K
I really enjoyed the emphasis on slowing down and going step by step through the Lord’s prayer. I also really liked the concept of praying for different groups of people as well. —Emily O
I didn't come up with anything new here, but rediscovering the value of the Lord's prayer has been truly life-changing for me. And I hope it will help you simplify your prayer life to help you get together with Jesus, too!
I turned the weekly template of praying the Lord's prayer into a 12-Week journal, and I'm excited to offer it to you on July 23rd!
Head to the Prayer Journal page below to get a sample and start journaling today!