Q: “What is your prayer life like? How do you become a strong woman of prayer?”
A: The Son of God gives us the best example of prayer. Jesus prayed for others and with others; He prayed with persistence and with intimacy. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for a way other than the cross, but that request was not granted. He surrendered to the will of the Father: being crucified for our sins. His prayers did not cease at the cross; even there He was interceding for us. If Jesus sought a life of prayer, then so should we.
How grateful I am that we are free to go boldly before the holy throne of God to participate in conversation with Him. Our times of prayer are meant to be a dialogue rather than a monologue. It is essential to make time to unplug, pull away, and intentionally go to a quiet place to hear from God’s heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In order to hear, we must put ourselves in a position of stillness to listen. That can take time and a willingness to remain focused. Even when it isn’t convenient, we must choose daily to prioritize prayer. Mornings where I pray before doing anything else turn into days that my heart is steady and sure of His presence.
Prayer Is the Space to Be Restored
My pastor has said, “Prayer is the space God gives you, even in the midst of chaos, that you might have your soul restored.” Countless times throughout my life, I’ve needed God to restore me. I’ve needed His comfort, assurance, wisdom, and guidance.
There have been times in my life when my heart has been so heavy all I could do was weep before the Lord. On other occasions, when I was not sure how to pray, I relied on the Holy Spirit to intercede for me. I’ve taken every emotion into the throne room of God: anger, hurt, loneliness, sorrow, frustration. It does no good to pretend that you are happy when you aren’t or content when your spirit feels tossed about. God knows your heart! The more transparent your words, the quicker your soul will be restored.
When my beloved husband was struggling with an addiction to alcohol, earnestly praying to the Lord for Him helped keep my heart from bitterness. It is difficult to remain angry with someone while you are praying for them. The greatest gift for another person is your intercession for them. Praying for my beloved for two decades taught me that the waiting doesn’t mean that God is ignoring our prayers. Some of the greatest victories and joys in life come after earnest, continual prayers over a long period of time.
We do not impress God and we certainly cannot manipulate Him. We should speak to Him using our own voice, right where we are at the moment. Our words do not have to be eloquent, many, or even spoken aloud. God desires to hear from the hearts of His beloved children. He wants us to bring Him our wounds, hopes, and worries as well as our gratitude and offerings of thanksgiving. He wants to hear us give a sacrifice of praise. We were created with a desire to be known by our Father and to communicate with Him through this glorious gift of prayer.
Practical Ways to Grow Your Prayer Life
One of my favorite ways to communicate with God is through walking for long stretches outdoors, where I can speak out loud. This helps me to remain focused as I pray. Journaling is also an excellent way of remembering His faithfulness. You can keep a recorded trail of prayers that have been answered and the ways His hand has worked.
Consider fasting as part of your prayer life. The purpose of fasting, no matter how it’s done, is to seek God’s face more fully in humility. It is a way to show our sincerity in desiring to know the will of God. It is not a way to diet, a manipulative tool, or a hypocritical exercise, but rather, a way to reveal the humility of the heart. I have been greatly blessed by times of fasting over the course of many years. It has enabled me to press more deeply into God’s presence and will in my life.
Jesus gave us an example in the Lord’s Prayer of how to structure our prayers. It begins with worship of God and moves toward repentance. Then it contains petitions, once the heart has been set upon God’s holiness and our need for forgiveness.
But there have been times of crisis where I did not follow this pattern, but simply pleaded fervently and quickly. I also love to pray Scripture back to Him when I am seeking Him in a time of trial and testing. However we pray, He longs to have us run to Him in our moment of need. That is the sweetness of our compassionate Father.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:28–29)
There it is. There is the rest that is found when we go to our Father. In our weariness, our wanting, our fear, our frustration, and our loneliness, we are to simply go to Him, taking it all with us. He has promised to meet us right where we are and give us the rest our minds and hearts so desire. His ears are attentive to His sheep, so go often to His throne in prayer. Linger, remain, and learn from Him, that you might find rest for your wearied and worried soul.