Just about everyone who’s been a Christian, or a ‘spiritual’ person’, for any length of time will have encountered the habit where prayers are scarce. They have promised to pray for someone—indeed how many times do we promise to pray and don’t?—and haven’t followed through on the promise. Only God and they know.
Worse still is the motive to pray for legalistic reasons; to ‘tick off’ our prayers as if we could checklist intercessory imperatives.
The key obstacle we need to overcome, so we are truly motivated in order to be satisfied with our prayer lives, is to gain an understanding, and align to that understanding—the will of God.
Who are we trying to please? We should really only pray according to the will of God. God knows how limited we are; he does not expect us to pray for everything.
When we are no longer guiltily drawn to pray, then God gets the most out of our prayer life. Then we are confidently satisfied that we are pleasing God.
Ways to Stay Motivated
1. Once we have dealt with any sense of guilt or shame for not having prayed as others or we ourselves might have expected, now comes the time to make a simple analysis of what we will pray about, whom for, and how we are to pray.
2. Undertaking a simple analysis requires one sheet of paper with three columns marked, what, whom for, and how.
3. Staying motivated is about achieving goals. Make the goals on that one sheet of paper achievable. Be disciplined enough to pray around these needs every day. Where days are missed through no fault of your own, don’t cruel yourself.
4. When you’ve regularly met your target goals regarding your prayers be pleased with yourself, and know how pleased God is for you. Celebrate the achievement in an appropriate way.
5. Know how important continual dialogue with God is. The truth is most of us engage in a continual dialogue with God but don’t really count these as prayers. Of course, they are. See, you may already be praying quite a lot.
Why It’s Important to Stay Motivated
It might seem obvious having read what we’ve just read, but let’s put it in plain terms. If we don’t achieve a level of satisfaction regarding our spiritual disciplines—of which prayer is but one—we stand to limit the joy we can experience; the Presence of God.
We need to feel like we are in the lap of God’s will. As an outcome measure this drives our motives to retain the joy of the Lord.
Staying motivated gets us there; the reason our motivation wanes is our results are sketchy. Better to achieve healthy results regarding our prayer life. This is best achieved by keeping things simple.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.