As the disciples finished watching Jesus spend time in prayer with the Father, they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1b).

Isn’t it interesting that the disciples never asked Jesus how to do miracles, cast our demons, or communicate effectively—yet they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. The communion, intimacy, and connection Jesus had with the Father was so rich and powerful that the disciples wanted in on it.

Jesus not only taught His disciples how to pray (see Luke 11:2-13 and Matthew 6:5-15) but also prayed that the same kind of intimacy He had with the Father would be the same intimacy they would have with Him (see John 17:20-26).

Prayer, for many of us, is giving our wishlist to God—it is talking at God. But prayer is relational; and one of the great lessons in the school of prayer is listening. Prayer should be a fellowship and communication between you and God, which means you need to listen, not just talk. Remember the illustration from when we were children: you have two ears and only one mouth—so too we should listen more than we speak, even in prayer.

For others, prayer is merely the habit we perform before meals or bedtime, yet prayer must move beyond habit. E.M. Bounds rightly said …

“Prayer ought to enter into the spiritual disciplines, but it ceases to be prayer when it is carried on by habit only. … Desire gives fervor to prayer. The soul cannot be listless when some great desire fixes and inflames it … Strong desires make strong prayers … The neglect of prayer is the fearful token of dead spiritual desires. The soul has turned away from God when desire after Him no longer presses it into the closet.” *

When prayer becomes about communion and intimacy with the Living God, we find that not only do we know Him deeper and more richly, but that fervent and believing prayer lays the foundation for holiness. D.L. Moody is known to have said that prayer will either keep you from sin or sin will keep you from prayer (note: it is also attributed to him that he said the same thing about spending time in God’s Word).

Leonard Ravenhill said the same thing—“A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning.” He also said:

“No man is greater than his prayer life. … Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere. The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer.”**

A reminder about how to pray

If you need a good reminder about prayer, speak to Jesus like speaking to a good friend. When we talk with a close friend, we don’t worry about how much time has passed or what to say; we talk and enjoy the conversation. It is usually only when we speak with a stranger that we fidget, look at our watches, and see how fast we can get on with our lives.

If you need a few other suggestions:

1. I encourage you to spend the first few minutes meditating (biblically) on the greatness and grandeur of Christ. Ponder His character and nature, reflect upon His goodness and marvelous deeds, consider what Scripture says about Him, and turn that into worship and adoration of Him. Come to Him and just delight in Who He is! (for more see: Psalm 63:3-4; 145:10; Hebrews 13:15).

2. Remember to listen (for more see: Psalm 37:7; 46:10; 81:11-13).

3. Confess your sin. Sin hinders our relationship with God, so as we come to Him in prayer, allow His Spirit to search your heart and mind and reveal anything you need to repent of and/or turned away from (for more see: Psalm 139:23-24; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 66:18; Daniel 9:20).

4. Be thankful for what God has done in the past, what He is doing in the present, and what He promises to do in the future (for more see: Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 34:1).

5. Don’t be self-focused. So often, our prayers become all about “me me me.” While it is not wrong to bring your personal needs and requests before God, let God give you a heart and burden for others. Pray for your spouse, family, friends, your church and especially your pastor, your community, the government and its leaders, missionaries and ministries, the persecuted church, pray for revival, unsaved friends and acquaintances, etc.

Pray without ceasing

Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Pray without ceasing? Is that even possible?

The amazing truth is that if the God of the universe lives within me, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I can converse and commune with Him on a moment-by-moment basis. We, as believers, can have constant intimacy and interaction with Jesus Christ!

Perhaps it sounds a bit odd, but think over your last 24 hours. How much time did you purposely think upon and talk with Jesus? If you are like most people, you probably had moments in which you were purposely focused and even specifically prayed (like before meals), but likely you spent the majority of your day thinking about other things.

We are a distracted people living in a distracted culture. If we want to form a habit of talking with Jesus without ceasing, it helps to have a system to continually turn our minds upon Him. At first, it will likely be difficult to keep your mind and thoughts on Jesus no matter where you are or what you are doing, but as you continue to “practice God’s presence,” you will find, like Brother Lawrence, that you “have come to a state wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to think of Him.”***

Wouldn’t it be amazing to get to the point where the only way to NOT think about Jesus is to force yourself?!

The summer that turned my world upside down, I decided to use door knobs as my trigger to turn my focus upon Jesus. Every time I touched a door knob, it was to remind me that Jesus lived inside of my life, and I would quietly say under my breath, “Jesus, thank You for living inside of my life.”

Do you know how many door knobs you touch throughout the day? A lot. Sure, I opened many doors and didn’t think about Jesus, but throughout the summer I found my mind more readily turning to Jesus and my awareness and understanding that He lived inside of my life increased significantly. It caused me to go to Jesus in the everyday moments and involve Him in whatever I was doing.

That summer, we would be working with children and I’d ask for Jesus’ involvement and wisdom. As we went to the store for supplies, I’d ask Jesus to use me as witness. And even things like eating green beans became opportunities to praise and thank God: “Thank You, Jesus, for green beans! Aren’t these the best green beans You’ve ever tasted? Whew! What a Jesus!”

Jesus in the everyday moments

While we may turn to God in times of trial and difficulty, why not involve Him in the good and ordinary moments as well? If He lives within us, then we can talk with Him as we would with a friend. What if we did, in fact, pray without ceasing and realize that, no matter what we did or who we were with or talked to, every moment could be an opportunity to turn our minds upon Jesus Christ, involve Him in our life, and have continual and increasing intimacy with Him?

Talking with Jesus doesn’t mean we have to walk around mumbling throughout the day; it could be as simple as keeping our minds focused upon Him and inviting Him to participate in our everyday moments.

When I talk with someone, I fully focus on the conversation, but in my mind, I also ask Jesus to give me wisdom and words to say. I pray that God would speak to the person, encourage them, and draw them into greater depths of relationship with Himself.

To have a relationship with anyone, it demands interaction, time, and conversation. You can’t develop a better marriage if you don’t spend time or talk with your spouse. The same is true in your relationship with Jesus.

Would you allow communion and conversation with Jesus to become the flow and undercurrent of your entire life?

3 ideas to help you pray

  1. Have set times of prayer. While I want to talk with God all throughout the day, having set times of prayer is important. I want purposeful time to focus upon and converse with Jesus daily.
  2. Find a trigger. Think of a way to establish a habit of turning your mind upon Jesus. Whether you set a timer on your watch, use door knobs, or think of some other method, develop the habit of reminding yourself that Jesus lives inside your life, and thank Him for such an incredible reality. Allow that habit to expand so you are involving Jesus in your life moment by moment.
  3. Pray God’s Word. As you come to God’s Word, use it as a way to talk with Him. Ask Him (the Author) what His Word means. Declare the promises in your prayers and ask Him to develop the life of Christ in you.

grow more in prayer:


* Edward Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer (annotated and updated edition) (Abbotsford, WI: Aneko Press, 2018), 48–52.
** Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1987), 25.
*** Brother Lawrence, Practicing His Presence (Jacksonville, FL: Seedsowers Press, 1973), 104.

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