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4 Steps to Reignite Your Prayer Life
Deepening your communication with God is a marathon, not a sprint. Prayer isn't easy. It can be hard to tune out the noisy world, the seemingly constant activity and the competition for your attention. How can you find the quiet time needed for focused prayer? Angela Reed, an associate professor of theology at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has four simple steps to help you grow in the habit of prayer.

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Four steps to reignite your prayer life:

1. Read Scripture prayerfully by focusing on "formation" rather than "information."
"Most Christians are comfortable with prayer and with reading Scripture, but we don't often consider how to meditate on Scripture or to wait and listen for God's invitation," Reed said. "In the process that follows, we set aside the natural focus on looking for information and simply be open to God's formational calling."

Read a brief biblical passage several times (a few verses from the Psalms or the Gospels often work well). Consider these questions/comments in silence between the readings, pausing for a few minutes each time:

  • Is there a word or phrase that rises to the surface? (pause)
  • How does this passage seem to touch you today, perhaps in what you see, hear, feel or sense? (pause)
  • What might God be calling you to be or to do in light of this passage? (pause)
  • Respond to God in prayer.

2. Reflect on the events of the day by asking how God seems to be most present and active to you.
"The Spirit of God continues to be our comfort and guide through the joys and challenges of everyday life, but we do not always pay attention to how God may be attempting to communicate with us," Reed said.

One way of listening for God is to ask two simple questions at the end of the day:

  • Where did I most notice God today?
  • Where did I least notice God today?

"These questions are based upon Ignatius of Loyola's notion of consolation and desolation," Reed said. "Through the course of a day, we may see signs of God's goodness in many people and circumstances. We may also become aware of ways in which the world does not reflect the goodness of God. After reflecting on the questions, respond to God in prayer, perhaps with thanksgiving, confession and intercession. This prayer practice can be especially meaningful for families. Small children may want to talk about what they were most and least thankful for."

3. Try out a simple form of prayer that allows for deepening reflection through repetition.
Reed said that one ancient prayer dating back to the early church--often referred to as "the Jesus Prayer"--is repeated several times in a row with slow, even breaths as a way of focusing on Christ's role as Lord in our lives, our repentance and God's mercy.

The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

"It can be shortened or altered as needed," Reed said. "We can pray these words while driving, exercising, making dinner or just about any other kind of activity. It can be especially helpful when we feel frustrated or angry with someone. The prayer reminds us that we are all in need of God's mercy."

4. Explore the possibility of shaping the activities of the day around prayer, rather than the other way around.
"Early Christians continued the Jewish practice of reciting prayers rooted in Scripture at certain hours of the day and night," Reed said. "The practice has continued to this day and is often called 'praying the hours' or 'the daily office,' and it allows us to pause for prayer at natural points in our daily routines knowing that other believers around the world are praying with us in the same manner."

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