Resurrect my prayer life?

I have grown more and more discouraged regarding prayer. I noticed results before, but over the past three years I have seen my prayers have less and less impact… to the point where I pray less and less wondering what’s the use.
So my question - how do I turn this around? How do I a)pray more effectively and b)regain the passion to pray?

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@RussellP Great question :slight_smile: What do you mean when you say that your prayers are not having an impact? Prayer is not mainly a way to impact the world around us. Prayer is an act of entrusting ourselves to and communing with the living God of the universe and it involves much more than simply asking God to heal or help in a given situation. A classic acrostic for the components of prayer is ACTS.

  • Adoration - praising God in worship
  • Confession - confessing our sins to God and asking Him to purify our hearts / minds
  • Thanksgiving - thanking God for His faithfulness in our lives
  • Supplication - asking God to intervene against injustice, save the lost, conform us to be like Christ, fill us with His Spirit, and lay our needs at His feet

Our passion to pray flows out of our thankfulness for all that God has done for us through Christ Jesus, our love for others, and our trust that God alone is mighty to save. A few ways that I find help with a passion to pray are:

  • start prayer with a time of worship - sing songs that help focus your heart on God
  • pray Scripture - see what Jesus and the apostles prayed for and pray for the same things - in your life and in other peoples’ lives. If you read Ephesians 3, you’ll see that Paul is not mainly praying for healing or for rescue. Instead, he prays that people would know Christ’s love more and be Spirit filled in their lives.
  • pray for persecuted brothers and sisters - pray for the poor - and be specific - find peoples’ names and specific villages - intercede for others

Ephesians 3:14-19 - For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

You may find this teaching from Chip Ingram helpful in understand prayer. Some more resources below as well. Christ grant you wisdom and a deeper love for Him :slight_smile:

What Motivates Prayer - Love

The story in Luke 7:36-50 is a powerful reminder that the more we recognize how much God has loved us, the more we will love Him in response. So meditating on the Gospel is so important for motivating prayer.

Luke 7:44-47 - Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me nowater for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Who empowers prayer? The Holy Spirit

We should pray daily to be filled with God’s Spirit, because it is He who empowers us to pray and to live the Christian life.

Romans 8:26 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Ephesians 6:18 - And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Some People to Pray For

Pray for persecuted Christians. Ephesians 6:18 - And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Some Teaching on Prayer

Connect Threads

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Thank you, @RussellP, for your question and you, @SeanO, for your response. Sean, that acrostic brought tears to my eyes. If prayer seems complicated or out of reach, with a little shift in the lens it can be seen as simple and attainable viewed in its parts like this. Within the course of a day, we more than likely have opportunity to think and speak all these things and perhaps do so without realizing it.

I’ve had seasons when I’ve felt like my tarp is about to be ripped off the bed of the truck, so to speak, and tell myself it’s time to batten down. When I really sense a press, a warning, or aloofness in myself, adding fasting helps me draw near to the Lord and repositions me to submission and trust.

Thank you all for this conversation.

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Hi @RussellP

There are two practical points that come to mind when I consider my prayer life. Firstly, am I fasting? Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

I notice here that Jesus says, “when you fast”, not if you fast. Fasting went hand in hand with Jesus’ prayer life.

The second thing I always consider and was repenting about just this morning :sob: was 1 Peter 3:7

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

To me this is very clear that I need to show honor to my wife, so that my prayers may not be hindered. The combination of these two points:

  1. Fasting to remember to pray and weaken my flesh
  2. Repenting of sin, in this case how I treat my wife
    are two practical examples from scripture on how I can improve my prayer life.
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@Leah Yes - ACTS is a simple reminder that prayer is so much deeper than only making requests - as the deer pants for water, so we thirst for the presence of our God! Good reminder about the importance of humility in prayer as well. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

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@brianlalor What does fasting look like in your prayer life? I think it’s amazing both you and @Leah mentioned the usefulness of fasting.

Personally, I have a complicated relationship with fasting. When I’m stuffed with food, I do find it hard to pray. But when I fast for more than a meal or two, sometimes I also find it hard to focus because I’m just zapped. For me, I don’t experience much difference in prayer whether I’m fasting or not fasting. Though fasting does help me remember the suffering of the poor and the persecuted in a unique way.

All of that said, I’m curious how you integrate fasting into your life and how it impacts you personally.

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@brianlalor
@Leah
Thank you for your responses. Fasting and journaling my prayers would have been the advice I’d have given someone who asked the same questions.

What do I mean when I say my prayers have been ineffective?

I started getting sick 4 years ago. Please do not ask about my medical attention (lots, and at great cost) or my symptoms (varying degrees of daily physical misery). However, few know about it because I do not look sick and I generally soldier on as best I can. The few that do know are sincere believers who have been praying for me this whole time. My pastor has even come over to anoint with oil and pray for me in obedience to the book of James.
Not only has God done nothing (that I have noticed - I’ll admit that he could be working in some invisible to me way) but he has been ABSENT. SILENT. I pray to hear CRICKETS. Here’s an apt analogy:
Have you ever had a love interest that was not interested in you, and they handled it by just ignoring your calls and texts without having the backbone just t say ‘no thanks, i’m not really interested.’ That’s how God treats me.

Now the other issue. My wife promised prior to getting married that she would get help for her anger. not only has she not followed through on his promise, she no longer admits that her anger is a real problem.In fact, it is my fault. She is unfazed by attempts at intervention from her family, her parents, sisters, cousins, or our church. I have compassion for her because it is clear her anger arises from childhood trauma. If I had been through the same things I might have similar issues or worse. However she refuses to ever admit any wrong doing, let alone get help. Instead she abuses me verbally emotionally and only a little bit physically on average twice a week. Of course I’ve been praying for her and myself as have many sincere believers — That she would be set free and that I would grow to handle her anger in a more and more Christlike way… remember those crickets, ignore the phone calls, and ignored text messages? That’s how God is responded in the situation also (from what I can tell) I am not being sanctified as expected. I am fear I’m getting worse, more hateful, more resentful, more discouraged…

final caveat such that people do not jump to unwarranted conclusions. i won’t be divorcing her ever. i will just wait patiently until my life mercifully ends (on its own. i won’t be ending it)

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@RussellP Thank you for sharing brother. I am praying that the Lord Jesus would give you strength each day and work in your wife’s heart to heal those wounds from her past so that she can treat you with grace and love.

I’ve experienced that feeling of hearing crickets and silence in my own life as well. And to be honest, on most of those issues I’ve never heard an extra-Biblical word from God to this day. But I trust Jesus more than ever and I trust God’s heart even when I cannot trace His hand. How come?

  1. First, I recognized a hard truth. As it says in Proverbs, many of our difficulties in life require wisdom to navigate and God expects us to get that wisdom through experience and people wiser than ourselves. In my experience God does not shortcut the path to wisdom and it requires a lot of self-reflection and study to understand our own experiences. God has always granted wisdom when I asked, but not always on my timeline and certainly not without study on my part.

  2. Second, I remember daily how Jesus touched my soul when I was naked, blind, wretched, and poor. I had nothing to offer God—no riches, no power, no fame. Nothing to attract the world. But the Spirit of Christ entered into my life and covered me with Himself. I don’t always understand why life works out the way it does, but I praise God every day for His amazing grace and love in my life and seek to share that same grace with others.

  3. Third, when I run to Christ I find that He is present with me. I don’t hear any voices and I don’t always get the answer I want, but I do find that Jesus walks with me through every storm when I lay myself at His feet. He is my ever present help in times of need.

I wanted to share some resources with you that may be helpful. Philip Yancey has written a lot on understanding God in the midst of suffering and I really like his books. Also, even if you intend to stay married forever, you need to set good boundaries. It is not okay - ever - for your wife to hit you - ever. Henry Townsend has a book on this topic that may give you some ideas for how to set healthy boundaries that will both help you and help your wife to face her own problems.

Don’t lose hope! Christ be with you.

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i do not. i try to run to Christ but i don’t notice his presence in ANY way at all. i pour into scripture and it does not jump off the page like it did in the past. it doesn’t even seem to apply! i fast and find myself even more let down.

i appreciate the prayers and the resources. i’ll take a look!

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@RussellP Hope they help :slight_smile: People experience God very differently. I think it can be impacted by upbringing, culture, and how God chooses to reveal Himself in each of our lives. Some people feel closest to God during times of corporate worship and others while serving the homeless on the streets. Other people have a sense of peace in prayer. Some people feel overwhelming joy that causes them to shout and others a sorrowful joy as they remember how God has given His life for a broken world. Some people feel closest to God when out in nature and others when contemplating the character of God.

I think we each walk this journey of understanding ourselves and how we best relate to God. Some more thoughts in this thread that may help on that journey.

One thing I would encourage is to pray daily for Christ to cleanse you of sin and fill you with His Spirit. If a father gives good gifts to his children, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Spirit to those who ask! And it is the Spirit who cries out “Abba, Father!” within us.

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@RussellP Focus on the Family also has intensive marriage retreats, though you’d have to wait until the end of all this quarantine from COVID I suspect.

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@RussellP I really feel for you brother and want you to know, you are not alone. We are with you and we hear you. I also want you to know that God is with you. When he chose to live inside you by giving you Holy Spirit, He knew he would be entering into this journey with you for life!

I know exactly what you are talking about with the “crickets”. This made me laugh because it is a saying we use in Ireland a lot :joy: I have two chronic conditions, ulcerative colitis and degenerative discs in my lower back. The L5-S1 disc is almost completely gone and I live in fear of the future and what will happen there. I have prayed to God and…“crickets” :joy:

Now I am not sure where you are in your faith, but there was a time when I nearly gave up because of this trial. I backslid, stopped reading scripture and doubted everything, but thanks be to God He did not let me go and now I am much stronger in my faith than I ever was. In my case it was my biggest test. I still suffer, fear, cry out to him and like the persistent widow of Luke 20 bring my illnesses to him almost daily. But I have learned a tough lesson…

Suffering is a part of this life. I am actually in Week 8 of the Why Suffering elective through RZIM Academy, and highly recommend it @RussellP. It has further helped me understand the theology of suffering. Jesus said in Luke 6

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Our suffering is an opportunity to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Keep speaking to Him about it brother, because he is inside you and as you suffer so does he. He cares more about your situation then me or anybody else. If you make it through this, like I did, your relationship with God will be deeper than ever. During that time when scripture was jumping out to you etc. you were being fed milk, but now you are being fed solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2). I hope you get through it brother and I am shouting you on along with the Spirit he has put in us both :raised_hands:

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@SeanO fasting has a huge impact on my prayer life. The kind of fast you refer to by skipping a meal or meals I call a water fast. These I usually do for 1-3 days. The zapped feeling you mention goes away after your body gets used to it on a regular basis. If you drink a lot of coffee though of course, it is tough :joy: When I do this kind of fast, whenever my stomach reminds me that I am hungry, I pray. It impacts my prayer life by reminding me to pray.

For Lent I do a 40 day fruit and vegetable fast. Again during this time I am reminded to pray more. After the first few days the tired feeling goes away and I start to operate much more clearly. I usually feel His presence more and ministry becomes more effective.

I heard a great preacher teach out of Matthew 17 before. He noted how Jesus disciples were not able to cure a sick person. The father brought the boy to Jesus and told him this and Jesus cast out the demon instantly. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast it out, Jesus replied, “This kind only goes out through prayer and fasting”. The thing to note here is that Jesus did not go away and pray and fast and then come back, but rather we know that he lived a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.

This has really impacted me and made me realise that if I want to be even a fraction as effective a Jesus in my ministry, I had better follow his example. I hope this answers your question and explains how fasitng impacts me personally.

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Thanks man. This is helpful.

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@brianlalor Thank you for sharing - very helpful indeed :slight_smile:

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@RussellP, I wanted to share this little illustration with you.

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