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3 Ways to Cultivate a Meaningful Prayer Life

A redeemed soul desires an active, meaningful prayer life.

When our prayers feel ineffective or mundane, we tend to first examine our hearts with these questions:

“Am I too distracted by worry or anxious thoughts?”

“Am I doubting God’s promises and his ability to deliver?”

“Why do I feel like I am going through the motions in my faith life?”

These questions are good to ask but there may be different ways to cultivate a meaningful prayer life. 

Business experts encourage leaders to be proactive rather than reactive to confront challenges and perform better in a highly competitive market.

Are your prayers filled with reactive responses to the challenge of living in a sinful world or proactive praise that expresses trust in his promises?

God invites our requests. He asks us to communicate regularly with him.

When problems, concerns or worries consume our attention, an appropriate response is to call upon the Lord.

But if shooting requests to God defines your prayer life, then it can affect your trust in his promises… especially when his answers don’t match our expectations.

God already knows our painful trials. He is aware of every trial facing our loved ones. He knows our past, present, and future. His hand is leading and directing us through every good and bad circumstance.

A meaningful prayer life is not based on requests to fix something but helping us to respond well to what God has already placed in our life.

Instead of giving us answers to our prayers, the Lord wants to provide something better. He willingly provides us with peace, confidence, and assurance.

Prayer is a means of grace that acknowledges and welcomes his Spirit within and around us.

Prayer is an action prompted by faith that enables us to step away from this world and into his presence.

Faith prompted Mary Magdalene to make a fool of herself and bring expensive perfume to Jesus.

Faith prompted Mary to overcome scorn to sit at Jesus’ feet while Martha was busy in the kitchen.

Faith prompted Zacchaeus to make a fool of himself and climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus.

Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Zacchaeus were judged by those who considered themselves religious. Their responses, prompted by faith, were deemed out of the ordinary.

Cultivating a meaningful prayer life means accepting the invitation when Jesus calls out, “I must stay at your house today!”

It will feel like climbing a sycamore tree to see him, wasting expensive perfume on him, or setting aside a massive to-do list to be at his feet.  

It takes courage to completely let go of our worries.  

It requires trust to follow God’s timetable.

It requires faith to be in his presence because we are no longer the master.

We are there to receive rather than to understand, accept his wisdom rather than submitting our requests, and submit our desire to be in control.

When I was in graduate school, I have fond memories of attending classes and teaching. My wife and I were young, newly married, and enjoyed the freedom of exploring and being active. Years later, I found a journal that I kept during this time. I was expecting to read delightful phrases of trust and joy but was shocked to find line upon line of mournful pleading for God to provide direction and uncover His will for my life.

It was embarrassing to be exposed to my lack of faith.

Did God answer my prayers? Were my prayers effective?

Yes — despite my feeble trust in his promises.

God did provide direction and uncovered his will. He has blessed me far more than I could have delivered for myself. He was working in me to build a perfect track record of always delivering on his promises.

It seems that a meaningful prayer life must be consumed with being reminded that God is trustworthy.

Here are 3 ways to help cultivate a meaningful prayer life:

It’s not about us.

Instead of regularly coming to God to express our concerns, perhaps our prayers ought to reflect God’s concerns for us and the world. Our faith deepens by being at Jesus’ feet rather than trying to understand his ways and purpose for our lives and the people we care about.

Keep an eternal perspective

Faith is not meant to be comfortable. The Lord seems to do his best work through pain and discomfort. An eternal perspective keeps us mindful of heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones. Since his most valuable treasure is salvation, our prayers embrace God’s concerns more than our own.

God’s Word prompts our prayers

Do feelings prompt our prayer life or the truth of God’s Word? Do events or circumstances prompt our prayers or a response to God’s promises? A slow, contemplative reading of the Bible can absorb our soul, embrace God’s gracious love, and joyfully accept his will in every circumstance.

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