How To Improve Prayer Life [Even If You Don’t Know Where To Start!]
I hate to admit this, but I had a reality check the other day prayer-wise. I’ve been struggling to try to figure out how to improve prayer life in general, so when I found the solution it hit me like a ton of bricks.
It happened when I was reading Elaine Goddard’s post on Effective Intercession. She talked about her prayer journals, and a moment that she had with her daughter.
When her daughter was struggling, Elaine handed her one of her prayer notebooks and let her read the prayers her mother wrote for her. Elaine told her, “When I pray for you, I put on the rose-colored glasses of Christ’s love.”
This made me stop and think about my own prayer journal. Yes, I finally started a prayer journal, so I felt like I deserved some points for that, but looking back at it, my “prayer journal” was nothing but me whining about my circumstances. It was a pity-party journal.
I am a firm believer that we can come to God about anything. There are hundreds of things to pray for, and I think God appreciates honesty. Even if honesty is me wallowing in self-pity. Which I really didn’t think I was until I went back and read it.
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But How Do I Change My Prayer Life?
I wish I could say that after reading Elaine’s post, I started to write out these beautiful, selfless prayers. But I didn’t. I kept wallowing.
And I have every reason to wallow in self-pity. I think we all do, given what 2020 has looked like. I don’t think there is one person that has it easy right now. However, I wanted to know how to improve prayer life not just for myself, but for anyone that ever asks me about praying.
I started looking up tips on how to pray. For someone that looks that up a lot though, it is hard to come across new ideas on how to pray.
And that’s when I stumbled on it- the idea that I call the prayer sandwich.
How To Improve Prayer Life With One Change
How It Started
It was 4 am, and I could not go back to sleep no matter what I tried. Ever have those days? I am having them now more than ever. Sometimes, I think that is God waking me up because He knows that there is no other time He can get my attention. I had tried every prayer for a peace of mind and sleep, but it seemed like He definitely wanted me awake.
So I sat there with my new book, Psalms for the Anxious Heart: A 30-Day Devotional for Uncertain Times, which could not be a more perfect book for anxiety during 2020. I put my prayer journal right beside me, ready to use the Word of God to fight through another challenging day.
Click Below To Check Out This Amazing Book by Becky Harling!
Before I started in the book though, I wrote down my prayers into my prayer journal. They were my normal prayers; I wrote down everything that was going on in this scatter-brained head of mine.
I thanked God for providing, but admitted I was so lost in my journey of tithing. We finally started tithing again the week before, and everything seemed to go wrong after that. It was the opposite of what I thought would happen, and I had BIG questions for God. I wrote down all my fears, my doubts, and my questions for God. I explained all of my disappointments.
Once I wrote my heart out (okay, once my hand cramped and I could write no more), I switched over to the devotional. The devotional read Psalm 5:1-3.
Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
2 Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:1-3)
Here’s David, calling out to the Lord. He’s asking- rather begging- the Lord to hear his cry for help in verses 1-2.
Then in verse 3, there is a sudden switch! He goes from begging God to hear his plea, to “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
That was a quick turn-around!
In her 30-day devotional, Becky Harling says the following:
“What helped David shift his prayer from a desperate plea to a prayer of hope? I believe it was because of the personal understanding David had of God’s character. In tender affection, David calls God my King and my God.”
So I prayed over that verse. I prayed it as if it was me that wrote it. Then, I kept reading her devotional.
At the end, I went back to my prayer journal and wrote down my prayers and finished my devotional time of the morning.
Later in the day, out of pure curiosity, I looked back at everything I had written down. EVERYTHING was different! It seemed like my prayer journal had two different authors.
Even my handwriting was different! My first entry was chicken scratch and illegible; it was obvious I wrote as fast as my thoughts were. The second time was so much more thought out. You could feel Jesus’ lights in the words, and how much God spoke to me.
Change Your Prayer Life With The Prayer Sandwich
So I started a concept that was new to me. Many of you do this already, and that is amazing! If this is something you already do, then I want to talk to you about why this is so life-changing when it comes to improving prayer life.
The key was that I didn’t need to overhaul and change my prayer life to learn how to improve prayer life. I simply needed to add ingredients to the prayer sandwich.
Now, I am starting to use any quiet time I can find to do three things.
Steps to the Prayer Sandwich
Write in my prayer journal and get all my thoughts out on paper.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Get into God’s Word.
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
Pray again/write again in the prayer journal.The key was that I didn't need to overhaul and change my prayer life to learn how to improve prayer life. I simply needed to add ingredients to the prayer sandwich.
Is Changing My Prayer Life Actually That Simple?
Yes, it is that simple. That one easy step to improve prayer life can be super evident if you do track this in your prayer journal.
Since doing this, I have gone back to read my prayer journal and it is like reading a Jeckyll v. Hyde phenomenon.
It is incredible how the Word of God is so personal. It is definitely the living Word of God, because every single time I have done this prayer sandwich God has revealed to me new truths with perfect scriptures that I needed to hear at that exact moment.
My prayers go from begging for help to thanking Him and waiting expectedly, just like David did in his Psalm 5:1-3 switch.
What is a trick you have used to learn how to improve your prayer life? Let us know below so we can grow together as prayer warriors!
Jessie Synan is a Master’s student in Biblical Studies who helps other women find their prayer focus in a distracted world. She went from her ADHD interfering with her prayer life to finding her own unique rhythms for prayer and encouraging other women to do the same. She is the founder of Pray With Confidence, which has helped over 5000 women focus on prayer through the real and vulnerable advice she gives to those on her email list when they sign up for the free guide “How to pray [when you can’t focus.]”