What Does Prayer Look Like and 5 ways To Obtain a Healthier Prayer Life Today

I vividly remember the first time I was asked to pray out loud in front of a group of people. I was about seven years old in a girls church group called “Missionettes” and we started each week off with a prayer. My duty was to listen to all the prayer requests, which for a room full of seven and eight year old girls you can imagine is pretty vast and confusing, then pray over ALL of them. For some context, I grew up pretty introverted and shy and my parents did most of our nightly praying together. My experience in this area was little to none and by the time I got to the second request I panicked and forgot everyone’s request and ended quickly with “in Jesus name Amen” and started to cry.

Not only had I failed to cover the other girls in prayer, I had not used articulate words, I had not even finished the prayer appropriately (according to my own seven year old standards) and I had embarrassed myself to no end. Isn’t that how a lot of us feel about praying? We have this unspoken, unknown reason for having complete anxiety and fear over praying; as well as feeling like we’re somehow fully responsible for others when we pray. If we say a wrong word, or don’t have large enough words, we shut down. Aside from true fears of public speaking (which I know many people have), is there really a reason to fear praying?

Prayer at its core is nothing more than a conversation with God. It’s just as simple as the conversations we have with those in our lives every single day. The truth is, we wouldn’t have very many relationships with others if we didn’t speak to people. God has no higher or lower expectation of your praying than just that. He wants to develop His relationship with you and what that requires is you opening your mouth and speaking to Him. So how do we start to do this in a way that doesn’t make us feel awkward or scared?

5 Ways to Obtain a Healthier Prayer Life Today

  1. Read scripture about prayer.
    Luke 11:1-4 is the perfect place to start. The men who followed Jesus had some questions about prayer too. Jesus simplified it for them and gave them a place to begin. This scripture can be used as the foundation of where you begin. Start by printing it off or highlighting it and reading it every single day. Once you get good and comfortable, start making it more personal. Slowly add in personal requests for yourself, those you love, your city, state, country, the world or anything else you want. Eventually you can branch out and you’ll find that it gets easier to know what to pray for over time.
  2. Find quite time and space.
    I’ve mentioned previously that I take time to myself every single day to pray and read the Bible. Sometimes it’s 2 minutes, sometimes it’s hours. Either way I find space to fit in a conversation with the Lord and time to read what He has to say to me. The difference in being able to talk with our friends and family, and talk to God is that we don’t (usually) hear an audible response. God typically speaks to us through His word, friends, dreams, pastor’s messages or other ways. So how do we hear Him? Start with reading the Bible. You pray to Him first, and then just sit and be still and quite or listen to a sermon, anything that allows you to focus on God. God always responds when we talk to Him.
  3. Start a prayer journal.
    I’m a personal who LOVES a good list. I have about a million journals which all have a different purpose. One of those is a prayer journal. Often it’s easier for me just to sit down and write everything out instead of trying to speak it. My mind gets cluttered and my words start to not make sense when I’m audibly praying sometimes. So having a place that I write things out is extremely helpful and allows me to go back in and write down the day that God answered a prayer. So for example, I use to write down over and over that I needed a new job. The day I got my job offer, I went back and wrote it down and gave God glory for answering my prayer. Writing prayers and then reading them out loud also helps in practicing praying.
  4. Ask others to pray with you.
    We find in scripture that there is power in agreeing with one another. All that means is that when we pray together, we’re telling God that we ALL want the same thing. Kind of like the notion of one friend asking you to come out with them versus four friends asking you to come out with them. You heard the one friend and entertained the idea but when four people are bringing you the same request you’re much more likely to answer and answer quickly. God works the same way. Heaven listens to us individually, but when many of us are approaching for the same thing we get a lot more attention. Sometimes it’s also more comfortable to be with people you trust. My finance’ and I love to pray together. There’s something comforting about knowing that he’s there and can agree with me in what I’m asking God for. Plus most “scary” things in life are easier with people you trust around.
  5. Practice makes perfect.
    I want to keep reiterating the importance of just doing it. Even when you have no idea what to say or where to start, just DO IT! I can’t think of one thing I ever accomplished without just starting (duh) but I can think of so many things that took forever because I was too scared to start and later looked back with regret. Think of how many times you wish you’d just started and stuck to going to the gym and how far along you’d be now but aren’t. Or how many times you wish you’d just stuck with learning a new language and you’d probably know several by now. Praying is the same way. If you just start doing it awkward and unsure, you’ll find that in a week, a month, a year or longer…you’re praying big, bold and powerful prayers. My prayers would shock some people if they heard them….sometimes I’m even shocked at what I ask God for, but He has never failed me. Every prayer I’ve sent to Heaven has come back answered, not always how I imagined, but answered nonetheless.
  6. Bonus encouragement *insert praise hands*
    Be honest. God can handle your angry, hurt, crying, completely destroyed praying. I’ve many times found myself sobbing on the floor begging God for an answer to something and within minutes feel physically transformed by His love and grace. Not all of your praying has to be positive or uplifting. Sometimes we get into arguments with those we love or have questions for them….God is still the same way. He wants you to ask questions, cry and get upset….those prayers are accepted just as much as the happy ones.

I hope that this encourages you to take a chance on giving yourself to God. My closest relationships are with the people that I spend the most time talking to and God is no different. Just because I don’t physically see Him or hear from Him, doesn’t mean that me speaking to Him is developing our relationship any differently. Reach out to me if you need more help getting started or want someone there to pray with you or need more resources about developing your prayer life.

Here is one of my favorite resources to get you started with your prayer journey and I can’t wait to hear how God has transformed you. Leave me a comment below on your favorite places to pray or favorite resources to use!
Prayer journal

Fresh starts and how to make them a reality this year

Have you ever found yourself praying and notice yourself asking God to give you a chance to start fresh with something? Or found yourself wishing that you could re-do a conversation, a situation, a moment, a thought…life? I think it’s safe to say that we all have.

Luckily for us, the new year gives us that luxury. We get to sit down and reflect on what went well in a year and what things we’d like to work on. We have an opportunity to set goals or resolutions and decide how we want the next year of lives to look. We get to pretend like those bad moments never happened or learn a new way to cope. The pain we experienced the year before slowly begins to fade away as we put more time between us and what happened. But what are we really intending to learn?

God has always challenged me on the thought of resolutions. I’m flooded with thoughts and ideas of how different life could go for the next year and yet I find myself underwhelmed when I sit down to write down what I have planned. It begs to question, are we really getting a fresh start? Or are we just growing from the experiences we’ve had?

I’m not asking in a pessimistic, you can’t run from your problems, type of way; but in a are we really going to commit to changing anything about our life and ourselves? Twenty nineteen for me was one of the absolute most amazing years of my life and yet I still pained through the hardships of life and learning to improve myself every single day. The Bible teaches us that we WILL go through trials and pains and that we must allow the Lord to make us better than we were the day before. So what does that practically look like?

5 Practical Ways To Start Fresh This Year

  1. Spend time with God DAILY.
    This one for some of us is incredibly difficult, for some it’s an age old practice and for others it’s brand new. So what does this actually look like?
    You know the time you spend on the way to work or the movies with friends or the grocery store in your car? Yeah, spend that time with the radio off and just talking to God.
    You know that time that you watch another episode of Netflix instead of doing anything productive? That’s right….spend that time with God.
    We’ve been taught for years that spending time with God has to be this long drawn out experience, but the truth is…just like meeting a stranger for the first time…you probably don’t have much desire to spend hours with them. But slowly over time as you build that relationship, one awkward conversation at a time…you’ve built a best friend and someone that you can’t imagine doing life without. Works the same way with the Lord.
  2. Cut out at least ONE bad habit.
    So this doesn’t mean stop doing everything right away. Psychology shows us that when we cut things off all at once that we’re addicted to, we have a higher chance of relapse if we don’t slowly ween ourselves off.
    So take an inventory of your life and habits that you have. Prioritize them based on what bad habits you want to quit, and focus on number one. If you absolutely crush it and find yourself done with that one habit sooner than you though, start on the next one until suddenly you’ve gotten through the list. My number one is negative self talk.
  3. Increase at least one GOOD habit.
    The opposite and more positively reinforcing fresh start, is the take a look at the things you do daily that you love doing and you know are good for you. Then prioritize which ones you love the most or you know are healthiest and work at cultivating that GOOD habit. Next thing you know you’ll be crushing the bad habits quicker while focusing on the positive habits you have. My number one good habit is daily prayer, even if it’s 2 minutes, I pray every single day of my life.
  4. Invest in your hobby.
    I up and decided to release a Christmas album the last month of 2019 and suddenly I’m working on music almost daily, singing new places, releasing another album later this year, writing this blog and so much more. Taking the time to invest in something that I love lead me to doing even more of it.
    Love swimming? Join a local swim team.
    One of those wild people who actually enjoy running? Run a marathon this year.
    Some people have told me they don’t know if they have a hobby and I always say “Anything that you find yourself drawn to as a source of relaxation or joy (obviously that’s good for you in some way) that’s your hobby!” You can find local clubs, online journals, chat rooms, Facebook groups, Instagram…all kinds of ways to invest in your interests. Statistically, people who have at least one hobby are proven to report more happiness in their life than those who don’t partake of any type of happy. As as our dear friends Elle Woods once said “Happy people don’t kill their husbands”….it may seem out of context…but trust me, it’s true!
  5. Clear your Calendar
    As a self inflecting, recovering “yes man”, this one is incredibly important and I’m definitely preaching to the choir. My 2019 calendar was booked almost daily with activities that, to be honest, I mostly didn’t want to do.
    While it sounds counter intuitive, clear your calendar of the things you don’t want to do, by scheduling the things you DO want to do. Then when someone wants you to do something you’re not interested in, you can honestly say that you’re busy.
    What do I mean? I’ve gone into my 2020 calendar and scheduled times like “writing music”, “reading”, “time with Nick (my finance’), and any type of activity that I actually want to do. I of course still have the option to say yes if something comes up, but have an honest out of the things I don’t want to do.

There you have it; my way of making the best of a fresh start and focusing in on small goals rather than the overwhelming, never ending goals that we all know aren’t going to happen halfway through the year. My belief is that God wants us to be happy beings, full of joy and life. Sometimes that looks like taking more time to focus on US instead of everything around us.

I hope you choose joy this year.