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 | Elizabeth M. Kelly

Developing Your Prayer Muscles:

Although prayer might sometimes seem like a mystery or something only really holy or religious people can do, we know that Jesus teaches us all to call on God the Father; to ask for our daily needs; to ask for direction and guidance; and to speak to him about our worries, doubts, hopes and joys. And while prayer is a very natural thing to do, it also takes practice – a kind of spiritual muscle that needs to be strengthened through repetition just like any other activity.

Here are a few simple tips to begin working out your “prayer muscles.”

Start simply.

Prayer is first and foremost a conversation. Think about how you talk to your best friends or your spouse. Who in your life is the first person you would call when you had a problem or some really good news to share? How would you speak to them? You share with your closest friend your worries and fears, you ask their advice about difficult decisions, you tell them about the good things that are going on in your life and family. God desires our friendship and trust in the exact same way. It brings him joy and honor when we speak to him plainly and simply about our lives.

Seek some assistance if needed.

Ask the Holy Spirit and your favorite saints to help you pray. If you’re feeling a little stuck or awkward about prayer, the psalms can be a helpful tool. The psalms are filled with every kind of prayer there is: prayers of thanksgiving and praise, and prayers asking for healing, protection, guidance, forgiveness and friendship. We know the psalms were inspired and given by God himself. We can think of them as “God’s prayers,” so we can pray them with confidence, personalizing them for our own needs and circumstances.

Make prayer a daily habit.

Prayer should be something you do at a set time every day, such as first thing in the morning when you have your cup of coffee. Wake up with the Lord! Talk to him about your day, the work or tasks ahead, and ask him to be with you in every one. Then, before you go to bed, thank him for the day. Do a mini-review of the day and ask yourself, “When did I feel closest to God today?” Then thank him for that. Likewise, you might ask yourself, “When did I feel furthest from God?” and talk to him about it.

Practice a little quiet time now and then.

After we’ve finished talking with the Lord in our prayer, we might sit in silence for a few moments and just listen. Is the Lord impressing something on your heart? Listen for his voice. He wants you to hear it.

If you fall down on your prayer practice, start again!

Even Jesus fell on the way to Calvary, and he got back up each time and kept going.