There are no cookie cutters for this or easy steps…but there are principles that can help you deepen your prayer life.
The first is repentance. You can’t have a deep prayer life if you refuse repentance. How does a person come before the Holy God of the universe unrepentant? Unrepentance keeps God at a distance and it doesn’t allow the submission that is necessary for deep heart transformation.
The second is giving God total control. You will never have a deep prayer life if you are coming to God still holding onto the wheel. Once you give God total control of your life you will begin experiencing things and praying things that would have never come to mind otherwise.
Third, take risks. Faith is going to require some risks because faith is living with God there to truly catch you. I am not saying be stupid or don’t plan. I am saying that if what you do only requires you to pull it off it isn’t fully of faith. Taking risks will deepen your prayer life because it will change the way you pray – instead of asking God to help us manage what we can already control we are asking God to come through in bigger ways and waiting on him to do so.
Fourth, read widely from spiritually deep people. Dallas Willard. Henri Nouwen. Watchman Nee. Richard Foster. There are a host of other people. Read them over and over because as your prayer life deepens you will hear them differently each time as your heart is more and more prepared to hear what they are actually saying. As your prayer life becomes closer aligned in depth with theirs you will pick up on what they are really saying that you would never know had your prayer experience not stretched since your previous read. Who would make your list?
Fifth, read regularly from the Bible. Read the psalms relentlessly. They are both the hymn book and the prayer book of the Bible. I often borrow language from the psalms to express inner longings that I failed to have the correct verbiage for.
Sixth, spend time around mature Christians and pray with them. You can learn so much about a person and about the potentiality of depth in your prayer life than from listening to mature Christians pray. Find people who pray an hour or more a day and listen to them pray. Here is one example of Shodankeh Johnson who prays relentlessly…you will see what I mean. Go to the three minute mark to start.
Seventh, be on mission. When you reach out to the lost on mission you will find the urgency of your prayer life increase. As long as we associate only with those who “have it together” we rob ourselves of the vibrant prayer life that comes from being in touch and in tune with those who are truly desperate.
Eighth, ask God to deepen your prayer life and relationship with Him. God will answer this prayer.
Ninth, kneel. If you have never done this you won’t think this is right…but there is something about bowing before God that changes so much in the way we pray. Our physical position can affect our heart position. Try it and see. Kneeling reminds our heart and our mind that we are humble servants and that God is sovereign!
Tenth, pray specifically. Sometimes we hedge our prayers by praying too generally. The more specific we pray, it would seem, the more likely God isn’t going to do what we ask…but if we pray generally, we think, it will be easier to say somehow God answered the prayer…but that isn’t faith! I had a conversation today with a brother in Christ who began praying two weeks ago God would send him a new vehicle. We didn’t know he was fasting and praying for that blessing and we knew his vehicle was in trouble so a group of us in Backyard Church were talking about helping him get a new vehicle right as God provided a potentially donated vehicle for him…wow! Specific prayers build our faith as we watch God answer specifically…we know it could only come from Him!
The church is in trouble to the degree that our prayer lives are shallow.