1. Include prayer for all people. If we make it a point to regularly pray for everyone that God has called us to pray for, this exercise will help us to build the habit of prayer. Moreover, if we get in the habit of being complete (by including all people) in our prayers, we will sense the approval and blessing of God upon us, and we will feel deep inside us that we have been with God. This is because we have lacked nothing in prayer, we have rejected no one, we have loved all men, and we have been totally open to His will.
2. Follow Biblical examples. When we follow the prayer examples of others we ought to mainly follow their faith and not compare ourselves with their works, thinking that if we don’t pray as long as they pray, etc., that we sin. At the same time, however, when we follow their faith we must take a look at how they pray and how long they pray, because that is how they exercise their faith.
Accordingly, we should take it to God and ask Him, Should I fast like Daniel fasted, and should I pray all night like Jesus or like Jacob did? Likewise, when we study the prayers of scripture we should consider what we can learn from them.
If we ignore the prayers of the Bible and the pray-ers of the Bible (and also the pray-ers in our own church history) we are not being obedient to God. Therefore, we ought not say to ourselves, I have the freedom to pray as I want to pray, leave me alone, my prayers are my own, don’t tell me how to pray. That is a wrong and rebellious attitude. All the prayers of the Bible and the teachings on prayer in the Bible are for our learning and example, and we must avail ourselves regularly of the opportunity to learn from them.
3. Put prayer first in all your activities. Let it never be said that you are too busy to pray. Prayer should be our highest priority. In fact, the more things we have on our to-do list, the more we should pray—because the more things we attempt to do, the more we need God to help us do them.
We should pray unceasingly in our thoughts and attitude; we should also stop and take special times to pray throughout the day. Both David and Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10; Ps. 55:17). Though these men, as you know, had important duties—and they were very busy in their duties—they found time to pray. In fact, they gave their lives to prayer. We must do the same. Make prayer your first priority.
4. Set aside time every morning for prayer and meditation. David declared, “In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch” (Ps. 5:3). Some people say, “I’m not a morning person; the morning is not a good time for me; I have my quiet time in the evening.” My comment to that person is this: it’s fine to read the Word and pray in the evening, but if you don’t also start your day with prayer you are less likely to trust the Lord throughout the day, because you have not begun the day by trusting Him. I must insist that you pray in the morning! Follow the example of David and many other great saints. Get up as early as you can so that you can have plenty of time to feast on the Word and order your prayers to Him. You can’t afford not to.
5. Find special places to pray. Take the time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to walk around and look for quiet places to pray. My most pleasant memories of prayer are the memories of places by a river or a little stream. God seems to always speak to me and refresh me through the flowing waters, assuring me that His Spirit is at work in my life—flowing through me, cleansing me. When the water is calm I think of His peace. When the water flows rapidly I think of His power.
Just as in any love relationship, we must periodically stir up the coals and rekindle the fires of love. Finding special places to pray is a good place to start. Let those special places be the secret places of joy and refreshment for just you and your Beloved. As you make it your habit to periodically find and go to those special places to pray, you are in effect taking steps to overcome prayerlessness, and at the same time you are developing in your spirit a greater desire for God.
6. Claim promises. This is the way faith is developed and strengthened. When God gave Abraham the promise that he would be a father of many nations, he took that promise and claimed it (or believed it). As a result of claiming God’s promise, Romans 4:20-21 tells us that Abraham “was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
I would suggest that every time God gives you a promise, you write it down. Then look for a verse that goes with it, and then memorize that verse. Often God will give a promise with a verse attached; but you can believe that if God gives you a promise without a verse, if you pray and ask Him He will always later give you a verse. For the Word of God will in fact always be His confirming word to you. You can count on that. In time you will find that God has given you several verses of promise. Continue to look back on them and claim them. It will make your faith strong and help you to overcome prayerlessness.
7. Make it a habit to pray through every burden and problem that comes to you. That is the key to a peaceful life. As Paul instructs us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Some burdens and problems that come up need more prayer than others, and some need obedient action as well as prayer. Some problems require only a few minutes of prayer, others require several days of prayer—because of the enemy who is constantly at war with us (e.g., Daniel 10:2-13). Pray through each burden, and follow up in obedience to the end—until God gives you peace that His will has been done.
In any case, whether your prayers are long or short, make it your aim to pray through every burden and problem until you have the peace of God. But some will say, “Since I have burdens and problem almost all the time, I will have to pray almost constantly.” Yes, that is correct my friend, but, as John R. Rice has pointed out, “One of the sweet and blessed results [of going to God with every burden] is a constant companionship and fellowship with God.”