3 Tricks to Help You Pray

"Dear God," I start.  Prayer begins like a letter this morning.  How do I verbally communicate that this letter has a comma - personal - rather than a colon - business?  My mind starts wandering, thinking about letters I need to write.  E-mails.  And before I know it I'm not even close to praying.

Do you want help with your prayer life?  Would you like to pray longer, with more focus? 

Here are some tricks that have helped me:

1) Pray out loud

This may sound like a no brainer.  Or it may sound weird.

Many of us only pray out loud when we pray with other people.  And that makes some sense.  When we're with other people, praying out loud allows them to join us in prayer.  But what about when we're alone?

Praying out loud has been a tradition in the church for millenia.  People prayed The Lord's Prayer, St. Patrick's "Breastplate" Prayer, and spontaneous prayers ... whatever came to their mind.  Silent solo prayer may be the norm, but it's not the only.

Pray out loud and you'll find yourself better able to focus.  Give it a try!

2) Write while you pray

Bill Atkinson showed me a prayer journaling technique I've found really helpful.  Prayer journaling seemed like a great idea to me, but I could never get the hang of it.  Instead of trying to write out your prayers (which can be too slow and not quite private enough), follow Bill's advice and write down the first letter of every word you're praying.

Here's what the Lord's Prayer would look like:

OFwaihhbtntkctwbdoeaiiihgutdodbafuotawftwtaualunitbdufe.
Again, this helps me focus.  Give it a try!

3) Plan to pray ... and get specific

When I struggle to pray, it's often because I'm trying to cram prayer into some imagined empty space in my schedule.  There's never any real, good, empty space in my schedule.  The empty space is junk space, space after something or before something, space where my mind won't be free or focused.

Plan to pray and you'll find prayer more enjoyable, easier.

When will you pray?
Where will you pray?
What will you pray about?

Answering those questions and planning to pray always helps me.  Give it a try.

What tricks help you pray?

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