September 1, 2017

Practical Humility in Prayer

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7)

At some point, you’ve probably felt your prayers to be weak and ineffective. That is very discouraging. If I could give you one key thought on this, it would be “effective prayer requires humility”. But, then you say, “Fine, but what does that look like?” It means to be honest about who you are and who God is. Own up to your weaknesses and adore His perfections. Here are some suggestions. You don’t have to use all of them. You don’t have to use any of them. Some of them will probably help you.

  1. You don’t remember to pray? Own up to that by figuring out how to fix your memory.

    • Pick one or more times during the day and decide that you are going to pray then. Set an alarm to remind you to do it. Put five bucks in a jar when you realize you missed your appointment, that money is out of your pocket (maybe to your church or some other good cause) until you remember to do what you want to do. Whatever it takes to stick to the appointment.
    • Carry a token to remind you. The Old Testament law required Israelites to add tassels to different parts of their clothes. Clothes don’t need tassels. They were there as an always-visible reminder of God. Likewise, you can carry something with you everyday–make a necklace, a bracelet, or a keychain. Decide that whenever you put it on or take it off you are going to pray. Whenever you brush your keys in your pocket, remember to pray. Just with this, remember that the token is for you, not something to show-off or to get you noticed as super-spiritual.
  2. You don’t remember what to pray about? Own up to that by writing it down.

    • Carry a notebook. Use your smartphone (even try the PrayerMate app). Buy some 3”x5” index cards and a binder ring, cut the cards in half and punch holes in the corner, put them all on the binder ring, carry the cards with you, and write something to pray about on a card whenever you think of it.
    • When you take time to pray go through your notebook/list/cards and pray until you’ve gone through them all or you’re out of time.
  3. Can’t think of words when you’re praying? Own up to that by changing it up.

    • Read the Bible to give yourself words and images use when you pray.
    • Pray prayers that other people have written down. Sometimes what we think and feel has already been said by others better than we could think to say it. Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Pray the Psalms as your own prayers. Get a book of prayers like The Handbook to Prayer by Ken Boa or The Valley of Vision.
    • Write out your own prayers. Talking isn’t my thing, I express my thoughts much better on paper. Write to God. Pour your heart out on the page for Him. He knows how to read.
  4. Feel like you’re not good enough to pray? Get over yourself. Own up to that by thinking less about how much you suck and more about how wonderful God is.

    • You are commanded to pray, “because He cares for you”.
    • Read Psalm 136
    • Read more Scripture
  5. Feel like you’re fine and don’t need to pray? Get over yourself. Own up to that by thinking a little bit about how much you suck and a lot more about how awesome God is.

    • The Lord’s Prayer says “give us this day our daily bread”. You need to pray every day.
    • Read Romans 3
    • Read more Scripture

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