Jesus said, "Go directly to the Father .
. . using my name . . . and you will have abundant joy" (Jn.
16:23-24, NLT). The psalmist adds, "In God's presence is the
fullness of joy" (Ps. 16:11, KJV). These 10 directives may help you
make prayer not only practical, but a joy as well.
1. Find the best possible time and place for prayer. In
Mt. 6:6, Jesus said, "When you pray" (suggesting a time devoted to
it), "go into your room" (suggesting a place devoted for it). First,
set a specific time that is best suited for you to pray. Watchman
Nee wrote, "Those who have no set time for prayer, do not pray."
Then, find a good place for prayer-like a spare room, a closet, or
even a comfortable chair. Going to the same place each day helps
form a habit.
2. Forget all previous failures in prayer. A lady once
confided to me that a terrible problem was hindering her prayer
life. "I often fall asleep during prayer," she said. I replied,
"Welcome to the club. I do, too!" Stunned that a teacher of prayer
would have that problem, she inquired, "What do you do when you fall
asleep during prayer?" Chuckling, I replied, "I rest in the Lord,
what do you do?" As she laughed, I added, "What I do is start
praying again when I wake up. The key is-don't give up!"
3. Fight all prayer hindrances fiercely. Paul wrote, "Use
every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy" (Eph. 6:13, NLT). Of
course, the greatest hindrance to prayer is not praying at all.
James said, "You do not have, because you do not ask God" (Jas.
4:2). Then there's the hindrance of selfish praying. James
continues: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with
wrong motives" (Jas. 4:3).
4. Focus on the Lord rather than on answers to prayer. God
told Jeremiah, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you. . . . You will seek me and find me when
you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:12-13). The essence of
prayer is in the repetition of the word "Me" (God) in this passage.
Effective prayer isn't gauged by how many answers we receive, but by
how much of God we touch.
5. Follow a meaningful plan of action. When the psalmist
said he would "direct" his prayer unto the Lord in the morning (Ps.
5:3, KJV), he used the Hebrew word arak, meaning to "set in order"
or "arrange." He had a plan of action, or strategy, for his
6. Feed every day on spiritual food. Jesus said, "People
need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of
God" (Mt. 4:4, NLT). Jeremiah wrote, "When your words came, I ate
them; they were my joy and my heart's delight" (Jer. 15:16). Read
the Word daily so you can pray it back to God.
7. Fellowship with the Lord in love. The prophet Hosea
proclaimed, "Come, let us return to the LORD. . . . let us press on
to acknowledge him" (Hos. 6:1-3). "Acknowledge" (or "know," as it is
sometimes translated) is from the Old Testament Hebrew word yada.
One important definition of yada is "direct, intimate contact."
Intimacy with the Lord is the key to joyful prayer.
8. Forgive every wrong done to you. Jesus said, "And when
you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him"
(Mk. 11:25). Elsewhere He admonished, "If you forgive men when they
sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Mt.
6:14). The Lord knew that holding a grudge would make it all but
impossible to pray effectively. Indeed, bitter believers rarely
9. Forsake all things that hinder spiritual growth. When
Andrew Murray suggested that "we pray as we live, it's the life that
prays," he hit upon a vital key to joyful prayer. Those who would
pray well must heed Paul's directive, "Put to death, therefore,
whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (Col. 3:5).
10. Finish what you start. Rees Howells, a remarkable
intercessor from an earlier generation, often said, "You will never
be a true intercessor until you are first willing to be a part of
the answer to your own prayers." When God selected the house of
Cornelius to first release the gospel to the Gentiles, it was
because Cornelius was someone who "gave generously . . . and prayed
to God regularly" (Acts 10:1-4). Cornelius not only prayed, but he
put feet to his prayers.