developing a prayer strategy
Effective Prayer Life | How to Pray

3 Crazy Simple Secrets to Developing a Prayer Strategy

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You’ve seen the movie “War Room,” right? When it came out several years ago, I made up my mind about developing a prayer strategy. I bought the books, we did not just one of the DVD studies at my church, but two.

I was all in.

But here’s the thing: it didn’t matter how hard I tried; it just didn’t seem to work.

developing a prayer strategy

Have you ever had that happen?

Have you ever wanted something so bad, but all the three-step plans seemed to fall short?

I kept trying to implement the system I knew wasn’t working for a few months before giving up completely. I knew I wanted to learn about developing a prayer strategy, no matter what.

Then a couple years later, the women at my church went through Pricilla Shirer’s Armor of God Bible Study. It had a prayer strategy outlined in it that I adopted with renewed fervor. 

Would you be surprised to learn that it didn’t work for me either?

I was starting to think I was the problem.

Prayer Life Idolatry?

It wasn’t that I didn’t pray. I did (and I do). But I wasn’t a prayer warrior. Not like Miss Clara or Priscilla Shirer anyway.

It was about that time that I realized I had been idolizing someone else’s prayer life instead of cultivating my own. 

I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

My prayer life wasn’t the problem so much as the way I was looking at it.

Instead of trying to grow closer to God, I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.

That’s when I realized there was a better way.

[bctt tweet=”My prayer life wasn’t the problem so much as the way I was looking at it. @_HeatherHart” username=”jessieqsynan”]

3 Secrets to Developing a Prayer Strategy That Works For You

So, with my newfound freedom to pray the way that worked best for me, I set out to develop a prayer strategy that worked for me.

I’ll be honest, it took me a bit to break out of the mold of what my prayer life “should” look like. And every now and then it’s still tempting to read a blog post and think, “I should pray like that.” Even though I know I shouldn’t.

If you have ever found yourself there, I hope you can find your own freedom in this post. The freedom to develop a prayer strategy that works for you.

Here are three crazy simple secrets to get you started:

Secret #1: Developing a Prayer Strategy is Personal

My prayer strategy will look different than yours. There are a lot of different prayer strategies out there and they are all great. 

If you’re reading this post looking for the next three-step plan, I’m going to have to disappoint. Instead of offering a three-step prayer strategy, I want to set you free to connect with the God who created you. Because that’s what prayer is really about.

Secret #2: Developing a Prayer Strategy Doesn’t Have to Be Elaborate

You don’t need a special room. 

You don’t have to have seven steps. 

Writing out your prayers and posting them where you can see them isn’t a mandate. 

You don’t have to use pretty pens.

All that’s required for prayer, is you.

If you want to add more tools to your prayer time, you can do that, just know you don’t have to. There is nothing wrong with being alone with Jesus, one-on-one without a plan.

Secret #3: Your Prayer Strategy Will Change Over Time

The way my prayer time looks right now is not the same as it looked ten years ago.

To be completely candid, it’s not the same as it looked ten months ago.

My prayer strategy is constantly changing. As I grown in my walk with God, the way I communicate with Him changes. If it didn’t, I would probably be concerned.

Your prayer time will most likely be impacted by whatever season of life you are in.

If you spend a lot of time in your car, your car might be your war room.

When my twins were infants, I spent a lot of sleepless nights rocking babies and crying out to Jesus to get me through.

Life is constantly changing, thankfully God remains the same. No matter what we are going through, He will never leave our side.

12 Types of Prayer Strategies for When You Need Somewhere to Start

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to offer a three-step plan for developing a prayer strategy, but here’s the thing: I really have learned a lot over the year by trial and error. 

There are dozens of prayer strategies out there and following a prayer strategy that someone else developed isn’t a bad thing. If you can find one that works for you, by all means, run with it. Or if it almost works for you, adapt it.

When I say there are dozens of prayer strategies out there, I’m not kidding. I’m going to share twelve types of prayer strategies and my experience with them here. 

Prayer Strategy #1: Using Prayer Acronyms

You’ve probably heard of the ACTS acronym before. It’s an outline to help guide your prayer time. There are several different ones out there. 

The three main prayer acronyms are:

  • ACTS – Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication.
  • PRAY – Praise, repent, ask, yield.
  • TRUST – Thanksgiving, remember, unburden, surrender, trust.

However, you could even create your own if you wanted to. 

I’ll be really honest; prayer acronyms have never worked for me. Instead of feeling like I’m connecting with Jesus, I feel like I’m trying to complete a homework assignment. I know other women who love them, but they just aren’t for me.

Prayer Strategy #2: The 5 Finger Prayer

The five-finger prayer is commonly used to teach children to pray, but it’s good for anyone to know. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Thumb: Pray for those who are closest to you (family & friends)
  • Pointer: Pray for those who point you in the right direction (pastors, mentors, & teachers)
  • Middle: Pray for the leadership in your government, business, and church.
  • Ring: Pray for those who are in need.
  • Pinky: Pray for yourself last.

The odd thing about the five-finger prayer strategy is that it is almost the same thing as an acronym. You’re just using fingers instead of letters, but for some reason this works for me. I suffer from chronic migraines (I’ve basically had a migraine every day for the past 2.8 years), and when my head hurts so bad I can’t think, I can walk through the five-finger prayer.

Prayer Strategy #3: Praying Scripture

Praying scripture can be powerful in developing a prayer strategy.

There are countless ways to put it into practice. You can pray your way through the Psalms, pray the armor of God, or pray through the prayers of the New Testament. Or pray another Scripture that’s relevant to what’s on your heart. The more Scriptures you know, the easier this is to do.

Personally, I find trying to pray Scripture is like forcing a conversation and it doesn’t work for me. However, if I’m praying and a Scripture comes to mind that I can claim in the prayer, I can totally do that. 

Sometimes, I’ll even stop to look it up. Like God is talking to me while I’m praying (prayer is a conversation with God after all).

You can also use Scripture as a blueprint for prayer. I recently read Job 31 and got several takeaways that I applied to my personal prayer strategy. I shared them in a post titled, 6 Prayers That Will Rock Your Spiritual Life here.

Prayer Strategy #4: Prayer Journaling

Prayer journaling is super popular. You can download a free prayer journal or purchase one from Amazon. You might even just grab a pretty notebook to use and write out your prayers.

I don’t always write out my prayers, but when I do, I type them. I use Microsoft Word. That’s what works for me. 

I don’t have a template I use; I just type it out like I’m writing a letter. Then I save it in a folder. I’ve been doing it this way for years and I have yet to go back and read one. 

I don’t print them out. I don’t post them where I can see them. They are between me and Jesus, but I think better when I type, so that’s what I do. 

It works for me.

Prayer Strategy #5: Prayer Lists

Prayer lists are my jam.

Not so much the types of lists that are a page long that you get at church and include Mr. Smith’s second cousin’s neighbor’s aunt who is having surgery next Tuesday. 

But I write down a few things I want to pray for each week in my planner. I also have a few other places I write down things I want to pray for. Maybe I should call them prayer notes instead of prayer lists.

My prayer notes strategy was adapted from the prayer list strategy though. While praying through a list can be overwhelming, having a note with a few key points written down is exceedingly helpful.

Prayer Strategy #6: Prayer Books & Printables

If you use Pinterest at all, you have probably seen the prayer printables. They are pre-written prayers that you can print off to have at hand. Prayers written by someone else that you can pray.

You can even purchase books full of prayers.

You can pray these as written or use them as a springboard for your own prayers. When I have used these, that’s what I do; use them as a springboard that is. They help get me started and I can take it from there. 

Prayer Strategy #7: Prayer Circles / Groups

Usually when you read blog posts about developing a prayer strategy, the main focus is on your personal prayer life. However, being part of a prayer circle or prayer group is a great prayer strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Having other people pray for you and praying for other people can be a game changer. 

I am in several different prayer groups. They all have their own benefits.

Prayer Strategy #8: Prayer Partners

Beyond being in a group of people praying, having a specific person you pray with can be a great prayer strategy. I love my prayer partner. 

I know that when something happens, whenever I need prayer, I can send a text and someone starts praying.

Prayer Strategy #9: Praying on Your Knees

In a world where we are always on the go, taking the time to slow down and kneel before our Heavenly Father can seem awkward. Really awkward.

I still remember the first time I did it as an adult (at home).

It felt weird.

However, it also felt serious.

I wasn’t just tossing up words, I was all in. 

I know that God hears all of our prayers and He doesn’t give more weight to prayers from people on their knees, but it does my heart good. Like in the Old Testament when they would tear their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. I get on my knees and cry out to Jesus. Not always. But sometimes.

Prayer Strategy #10: Praying on the Go

While getting on my knees and crying out to Jesus can be powerful, a lot of my prayer life is spent praying on the go; in the car, while I wait, wherever I happen to be. 

It is crucial to know that you do not have to be on your knees in your war room or at the alter to talk to God. He hears us wherever we are. So, talking to Him all day long as part of our prayer strategy should be a must.

I first adapted this prayer strategy in high school. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually,” and I took it literally. For roughly two years I refused to say “amen.” I wanted my life to be one constant prayer. One of constant communication with God.

My on the go prayer doesn’t look like that anymore but praying on the go is still part of my prayer strategy.

Prayer Strategy #11: Prayer Triggers

Several years ago, a woman came to our church who talked about using objects in our surroundings as reminders. She was a counselor and used this practice in her counseling sessions. She would encourage patients to use everyday objects to remind them of truths to help them correct lies they were believing or change negative thought patterns.

We can use the same method in our prayer life.

Instead of using everyday objects to change thought patterns, we can use them as prayer triggers. 

When you see a stop sign or stop at a red light, you might pray for the stop of abortion or human trafficking. 

If you drive past a school on your way to work, you might pray for the teachers or students there. 

Everyone’s surroundings are different, as are our calls to prayer. But using prayer triggers can be an affective prayer strategy. I have used this at times, but I don’t always.

Prayer Strategy #12: Prayer Pauses

This is one of my must have prayer strategies.

Have you ever had someone ask you to pray for them, and then thank you later and you realized that you never actually prayed for them?

Just me?

So prayer pauses are when instead of saying you will pray for someone or something, you stop what you are doing, and you pray—right there and then.

You can do it in response to a Facebook post. At the swimming pool. In the grocery store. Pretty much anywhere.

Prayer pauses don’t have to be for needs either. I still remember several years ago when I was at the swimming pool with a friend. We were watching our kids play when she got a text from a friend with wonderful news. So mid conversation, we stopped everything so she could say a prayer of thanksgiving. I doubt she has any idea what kind of an impact that pure moment of faith had on me.

[bctt tweet=”Find 12 prayer strategies here! @_Heatherhart” username=”jessieqsynan”]

What’s Your Prayer Life Look Like?

I know I’ve thrown a lot at you in this post. My own prayer strategy is constantly changing. Knowing it doesn’t have to look like someone else’s has been freeing but having a starting point; knowing what other prayer strategies are available can be so helpful.

I would love to hear from you.

Have you developed a prayer strategy that has worked for you? 

Do you use any prayer strategies that aren’t on this list? 

Join the conversation in the comments below.

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27 Comments

    1. Learning any new prayer strategy is beneficial. As a great reminder for how important this is in our lives. I like the prayer pauses. A prompt that can be so timely.

    1. I have YET to try ACTS, embarrassingly enough. I got to personally add this to my list when developing a prayer strategy!

  1. I think we over-complicate prayer. It’s simply voicing our needs and those of others to the only One who can really help. He hears us when we don’t even utter a word aloud. Pray is a conversation with God.

    I prefer to journal my prayers. I think that’s the writer in me. 🙂

    1. Yes! It’s so easy to over-complicate it, isn’t it. To think we need to do more than are. I think that’s one of Satan’s schemes. I really love the simplicity of prayer.

      I can’t write long-hand because of my carpel-tunnel. It hurts. But I definitely think better when I type.

  2. These are definitely crazy simple tips that ANYONE could use to jumpstart a prayer strategy! Thanks for taking the complexities out of prayer and making it feel so comfortable and easy! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thanks, Emily. With the way the world has been turned upside down over the past couple of months, my prayer life has definitely been affected. So thankful for the freedom we have in Jesus.

  3. Wow! This is so freeing! Thank you for reminding us that our prayer life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. And thank you as well for all the different types and formats of prayer!

    1. Isn’t Heather amazing?! We were so blessed to have her as a guest contributor! It made me really look at prayer strategies differently. God bless!

  4. Idolizing another’s prayer life–wow. It was very eye-opening when I read this. Hadn’t thought of it in that way before. Thanks for sharing your secrets to developing a prayer strategy!

  5. Idolizing someone else’s prayer life instead of cultivating your own. Try to grow closer to God instead of trying to be someone else. These two sentences have really encouraged me. Thanks for your contribution in the body of Christ.

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