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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    10 Ways to improve your prayer life

    May 3, 2017 / By Susan Hogan, umc.org

    Prayer, like tennis, takes practice to become accomplished. Spiritual guides and sages, pastors, and other church members are filled with advice and counsel. Here's some of that wisdom condensed into 10 tips about prayer:

    You are worthy.

    Do not feel guilty about the quality of your prayer life, or fall victim to doubts and despair about your worthiness to talk to God. Each of us has a spiritual gift. So remember John Wesley's words: "In Christ we gain more than in Adam we lost."

    The more you pray, the richer your prayers become.

    To deepen your prayer life, don't be a slacker. Like anything in life, to become good at prayer you must be disciplined. Just as running is an exercise in physical fitness, prayer is a spiritual discipline.

    Prayer is active.

    Prayer involves action; namely being attentive to God's voice in your life. Listening for God means stopping and sitting still. It means paying attention to what God may be saying to you at any point in your life.

    Prayer should not be an afterthought.

    Prayer was the backbone of Jesus' ministry. Often, he broke away from his disciples to spend time with God. In the same way, prayer is essential to individual lives and to the life of the Church. Break away from your daily routine for quiet time in prayer.

    Surround yourself with people who are seasoned at praying.

    People who've established prayer routines have much to teach those wanting to draw closer to God. Seek out those who can help guide and encourage your prayer life.

    God doesn't require eloquence.

    Don't worry if you fumble for words when you pray. God is not looking for Toastmaster's graduates, but sincerity (not that you can't have both at once). If the words won't come, God still knows what's in your heart. Lift up that desire.

    Prayer need not involve words.

    The great Christian saints all write of prayer as a time of sitting quietly with God. Jesus even went off for 40 days of prayerful solitude. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Follow the breath as it flows in and out of your body. Think of it as the spirit of God breathing life into you.

    Prayer is a time for conversation with a friend: God.

    Whether you see that friend routinely or just every once in awhile, know that whenever you turn to God, you're turning to someone who loves you.

    Ask God for help if you get stuck.

    Maybe you've hit a dry spell. There's no shame in asking God to guide you to pray in a new way.

    The three Ls of prayer: Listen, listen, listen.

    Listening for God is central to prayer, according to the great saints. It's so critical that St. Benedict began his famous Rule with this command for monks: "Listen with the ear of your heart."

    And remember, prayer can happen anywhere -- it doesn't have to take place in a church.

    Editor’s Note: Hogan is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Emily Cooper and Jan Surratt of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate did reporting for this story. This story was originally published on umc.org.


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."