The phone buzzed repeatedly and my heart skipped as I rushed to answer the call. I waited all day for moments like these, where I was simply in the presence of my husband’s voice. I listened attentively, shared highlights, and processed the difficulties my day presented. Sometimes, we simply dwelled in silence, rejoicing in each other’s company. Other times, we shared ideas and beliefs and challenged each other's worldviews.
The years we spent in a long-distance relationship, dwelling in each other’s presence even across the miles, were foundational for the marriage we have today. Over time, we talked like each other, thought like each other, and understood each other deeply—our needs, wants, fears, and desires.
Cultivating a life of prayer often feels similar to the early years of marriage, or any long-term relationship, where you’re learning to communicate. Prayer is the means the Lord gave us to dwell in his presence, communicate with him, and learn to trust him with our daily lives. Prayer helps us submit to his perfect will to see his kingdom come on earth!
Why We Pray
Gary Millar states that to pray "is to ask God to do what he in his grace has already promised to do.” In other words, when we pray, we profess our belief in God’s ability to fulfill his promises. This is not something to take lightly; it is the daily discipline of reminding ourselves who God is, what he has done, and what he promises. Through prayer, we profess our faith in him.
Jesus is our example. Scripture tells us that he withdrew to pray regularly (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 5:16). The Gospels don’t give us a lot of insight into what Jesus’ daily prayers looked like, but we see two great examples in his teaching on prayer during the Sermon on the Mount (see the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. 6:9–13) and the prayer he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew that his time was coming, so he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39, emphasis mine). Jesus could have asked for a legion of angels to rescue him, or for every man planning his torture to be punished right away, or to be spared from any of the pain to come. But he didn’t. Instead, he remembered the Father’s promise to send a Redeemer, a descendant from the woman, to rescue his people from the tyranny of sin (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53). Knowing this, Jesus prayed, your will be done. Like Jesus, when we pray, we should pray for the Lord’s will to be done and for our hearts to submit to his will.
How To Pray
A proper understanding of prayer will lead to the desire to pray every day. This doesn’t have to be complicated, but we must seek opportunities to remember the Lord’s promises, delight in his faithfulness, confess our need, and submit our lives to his will. Here are a few practical ways to be in prayer every day.
1. Pray God’s Word.
The Bible is the story of God’s promises and faithfulness to his people. As you read God’s Word, you will witness who he is, what he has done, and what he promises to do. This is the best place to start cultivating a life of prayer! You can pray the Word by meditating on the text and responding in prayer to God’s character, faithful works, and promises. You can also use the examples of prayer given to us in the Bible in your own prayer. For examples, see the Psalms, Ephesians 1:15–23, and Matthew 6:9–13.
2. Journal your prayers.
Journaling your prayers is a great way to surrender your prayer requests to the Lord, submitting each area of your life to his will. In addition, I recommend going back and adding (in a different color ink) the way the Lord responded or changed your perspective in each situation.
3. Use sticky notes or lists.
Placing reminder sticky notes around your home or having a list of prayer requests and Bible verses helps you remember who you committed to pray for and what the Lord’s will is.
4. Pray in community.
We were not meant to live alone, and we are not meant to pray alone! Throughout the Bible, we see believers gather to profess who God is and what he has done and to exhort each other unto the Lord. We are invited to do the same.
5. Use ordinary moments to pray.
Every moment of the day is an invitation to go before God in prayer. Let these moments prompt you to pray for the Lord’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, for someone’s healing or salvation, or for God to make you more like Christ. Don’t miss these opportunities!
Never Cease To Pray
For years, I often held my phone close, waiting to hear my husband’s voice as we navigated our long-distance relationship. I delighted in every chance I got to spend in his company. Now, I treasure our in-person conversations. In the same way, because of God's love for us, we should long to spend time in his presence. And we can, because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Because of his perfect life, death, and resurrection, we can go in prayer—wherever we are—to the presence of God! This is not an invitation to take lightly.
Sister, prayer is a gift! Go to the throne of grace and commune with your Father. And rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:16–18).
Meet the Author
Fernie is passionate about encouraging women to grow deeper in their understanding of the Scriptures and helping them apply this to their day-to-day context. She is a wife and mama and works full-time as a child welfare social worker. In her free time, you’ll find her seeking outdoor adventures, reading all genres of good books, and pursuing her M. Div. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Fernie is originally from Cd. Juárez, México and lives with her husband and son in Connecticut. You can find more of her writing at La Coalicion por el Evangelio and her book reviews on her blog ferniecosgrove.com.