Spending quality time in prayer with the Lord is an essential element to every Christian’s life. Without it we become dry and empty. The daily habit of spending an hour a day in prayer is a discipline that will keep us close to our Lord and filled with His presence.
I think David M. MacIntyre said it best,
“The devil is aware that with one hour of close fellowship with God is able to pull down what he has been contriving and building for many a year.”
But I think more importantly is what we do with that hour that makes the impact. Here are 7 tips that have helped me make that hour count.
Tip #1: An hour in prayer is a spiritual discipline, not a law
My first two tips that I list are probably going to seem pretty redundant, and you might even know them already, but you can’t have a consistent, healthy prayer life without first recognizing and applying them.
So, here it goes. My first tip is to remember that spending an hour in prayer is a discipline, not a law.
Sometimes we will fall victim to condemning ourselves if we miss our time of prayer. Don’t stumble into that trap. Our walk with the Lord is a walk of grace, not of works. We are already accepted into His love, we don’t have to spend hours in prayer to get there. Christ has already accomplished the work, so we don’t have to.
If we desire to develop a close and personal relationship with God, where we spend quality time with Him, then we need to remember to base our relationship on what He has accomplished through His Son.
In other words, we need to realize that Christ has made us righteous, not our own works.
I know this is rudimentary but the sooner we realize this, the sooner our conscience will stop condemning us, and the easier it will be to slip into His presence.
Tip #2: You’re meeting with a Person, not checking a box
Now, I know this one is obvious. In fact, if you found this article, chances are you want a deep relationship with God, so you already know that He is a Person. But there are times in prayer where we get so focused on the agenda that we forget the whole reason we are there to begin with.
You want my advice? Lose the agenda and be with Him.
He doesn’t want an agenda anyway, He just wants to be with you. Now there are different facets of being with Him. You could be singing, dancing, praying for someone, or you may just be listening to Him and not saying anything at all.
Whatever it is that you’re doing, the important thing is that you are doing it with Him and for Him.
Sometimes, before I start praying, I like to get silent before Him and just become aware that I’m meeting with Almighty God, the King of everything. This helps me stay sober and aware of Him. Which leads me to my next tip.
Tip #3: Constantly redirect your thoughts to Him
Wandering minds are one of the most common things we all experience when we start to spend more time in prayer.
We begin thinking about what’s on the to do list, how to accomplish our goals, what you might have forgot of that morning, etc. The point is: our wandering minds can become a huge hindrance to having quality time with the Lord.
The good news? It’s completely normal and we can all overcome it through a few simple changes.
Gently refocus your mind. Instead of beating yourself up over constantly losing your focus, just gently reposition your heart back to the Lord. Begin to talk to Him about it. Open your heart to Him and let Him know your struggle. Ask Holy Spirit for help and guidance by giving you reminders.
If you do this consistently, without condemning yourself, you’ll train your mind to stay focused during your times of communion with the Lord.
Read the Word daily. There are so many things out there that are trying to grab our attention in this world. Everything that we come in contact with will evantually come through the senses and be stored in our mind, so it is important to remember to keep the Word always before us. If we will continually fill our minds with His Word then it will be a whole lot easier to remain focused during prayer because there is nothing else to think about, other than what we have filled it with.
Commune with the Lord throughout your day. If we want a more intimate time with the Lord in our prayer closets, then we need to learn to develop a habit of fellowshipping with Him throughout the day. The inner life with God can be taken anywhere. If we learn to keep our minds on Him through communion while we do our daily mundane tasks, such as driving the car or doing the dishes, then it will be a whole lot easier to keep our minds on Him when we’re alone.
Tip #4: Start your time with praise and worship
The Bible makes it clear that we are to enter His presence with praise and worship.
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing…Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:2&4)
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
The easiest way to position our hearts to spend an extended period of time in prayer, is praise and worship. It allows this world to fade away from our focus, and causes our soul to slip into the realm of the Spirit.
As you can see from the scriptures above, praise and worship can come in many different forms. It may involve singing, thanksgiving, or maybe just stillness before Him. It doesn’t make that big of a difference what you do, just as long as your heart is in a position of adoration.
Tip #5: Majority of your prayer life should be worship
This tip can be surprising for some people because we get this idea that prayer is all about petitioning the Lord.
Petitioning (or asking) the Lord for things is a part of prayer, but it is not prayer in of itself. Prayer’s first purpose is communion with the Lord, and there is no better place where communion flourishes than pure worship.
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus gives us an outline of how prayer should look. He begins by saying,
“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 forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
Notice, He mentions worship twice. Once in the beginning, “Hallowed be Your name.” And once in the end, “Yours is the Kingdom..” No other form of prayer is mentioned twice. (Related article: How to pray like Jesus)
For me personally, if I have an hour to pray, I’m going to spend at least 45 minutes worshiping.
Tip #6: Speak in tongues
Speaking in tongues should be a vital part of every Christian’s prayer life. For the apostle Paul, his prayer life was saturated in praying in tongues.
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
I love this verse of scripture because it reveals to us a hint into the apostle Paul’s prayer life. We see from this verse that the apostle Paul switched between praying in tongues and praying in a language he understood. That means that possibly 50% of his secret time in prayer was spent speaking in tongues!
I don’t know about you, but that’s huge. So, if you desire your time with the Lord to be all that it can be, speak in tongues often.
If you have questions about speaking in tongues you can check out my two major articles on the topic: 5 Benefits of Speaking in Tongues and Speaking in Tongues: 5 Things to Know from the Bible.
Tip #7: Intercede for others
Be sure to take some time to intercede for your family, friends, church, unbelievers, etc. But generally, I wouldn’t recommend that you spend your whole hour here, because like I said before, communing with the Lord is the primary focus of prayer. And to be honest, you can pray for a whole lot of people in only a couple of minutes.
Now, that being said, don’t neglect this segment of prayer. There may be times where the Holy Spirit will begin to lead you to pray for one specific person for hours, or He might lead you to pray for a whole church for an extended period of time. You never know, so be sure to be open to the Spirit’s leading.
Tip #8: Take time to listen to His voice
Prayer is two way communication. It is us communing our hearts to the Father, and then the Father communing His heart to us. This is why it is so important to be sure to take time to listen to His voice.
For some, this may mean getting still and quiet. For others it may mean just giving Him place to speak throughout your day.
For me personally, I have learned that I hear from Him most often and clearer when I am either worshiping Him or speaking in tongues. I don’t know why this is, other than I assume that when I’m worshipping or speaking in tongues my mind is fixed on Him, so it creates an atmosphere for Him to speak.
This is also mentioned in scripture.
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)
Notice, the Holy Spirit spoke as they ministered to the Lord and fasted. Ministering to the Lord is simply praise and worship. When we praise Him we are ministering to His heart. This creates an atmosphere for His Spirit to speak.