It is hard. Your mind wanders. Dinner, the news, cup of tea – suddenly the most mundane aspects of life become fascinating when we start to pray.
The dilemma has been well documented by Carey Lodge on Christian Today.
But other than laugh at our own inadequacies when it comes to prayer, here are five things you can do to be better at it.
Set a time:
We are told of the virtues of discipline in Church and in the Bible. “Self-control” is even one of the fruits of the spirit. But it is sometimes difficult to know what that actually looks like in real life.
In prayer, setting a regular time to pray every day when we know we are less likely to be distracted and able to switch off is one way to exercise this gift – and improve your prayer life.
Maybe you are best first thing in the morning. Maybe last thing at night. Find a time in your day that works for you and stick to it.
Don’t be too ambitious
It is tempting to be hard on ourselves if we only manage 10 or 15 minutes rather than the hours or days some of the saints spent praying.
But our self-flagellation over not praying long enough runs counter to Jesus’ teaching. He tells his disciples to pray simply and privately – not with great shows of eloquence or length.
God desires our simple, heartfelt prayers. So don’t be over ambitious – be realistic and meet honestly with your father.
Use other people’s words
Despite Jesus’ encouragement to prayer simply it can still be difficult to find the right words to say.
Fortunately some Godly people have gone before us and written prayer books for us.
Choose a book of prayers that suits you – if you are not particularly academic, avoid the really intellectual ones. But try to read out the prayers others have used. Think about what they have said. Ponder on what they ask for and allow their words to filter into your own prayers.