Chain reaction: Small changes can help build a more dynamic prayer life

When I was starting out as a counselor, I was struck by how frequently poor communication was at the root of many clients’ problems. Not only did time not heal old wounds, but it appeared to deepen the scar tissue. That tissue then limited mobility and was a constant reminder of painful memories that were not dealt with. This made it difficult to be honest, open, and genuine. I was familiar with this cycle before going into the field, but I was stunned by the prevalence of lost conversations. Have you experienced this in your relationships?

This cycle came to mind when I considered prayer. How often do we struggle with consistent and dedicated time with God? When it is a priority, does it ever feel stale or one-sided? Most of us would agree that our prayer lives go through seasons and just like all relationships, require a little more effort than we tend to give naturally.

My recommendation to clients? Make one small change. We would look at the cycle that had formed and find one place to jump out. When a new pattern developed, this boosted confidence and promoted continued transformation. It was a chain reaction! 

Romans 5:3-5 tells us that this chain reaction is part of our spiritual growth. Suffering for Christ leads to perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to hope. While we may not choose the suffering, we do accept responsibility for our response to it.

What would it look like to persevere in our prayer life? Make one small change the way we communicate. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Prayer is meant to be dynamic and unique. It’s not a magical smoke and light show, but over time it strengthens our faith. I experience this the most when multiple passages align with what I’m experiencing personally, which then lines up with the natural world. Truth is truth is truth. The consistency of God’s Word and life experiences drive me to want more. 

There are many ways to create a fulfilling prayer life. We can pray aloud or in a journal. We can belt out the words of our favorite worship songs and express gratitude in nature. When we are weighed down by trouble and don’t have the words, we can simply utter the name of Jesus. We demonstrate humility when we drop to our knees. When our goal is to draw close to Jesus right where we are, our response comes naturally and is usually fitting. 

One of my favorite ways to connect is to pray Scripture. I learned this practice from a Bible study at The Chapel and it changed the way I view prayer. We began with a Psalm, praying over each line of one chapter. By taking it line-by-line, I found myself expressing gratitude, praying for our country and other leaders, thanking God for blessings, and praying specifically for friends and family, all without prompting or following any set of rules. 

Hebrews 4:12 reminds us of this: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” When we can’t find the words for ourselves, we can speak His Word. It is powerful and life changing! 

Where do we start? Many Bible studies or daily devotionals include a verse or short passage with the text. Try reading that Scripture and lifting up to God whatever comes to mind. This is a great way to deepen your understanding of what the Bible is telling you about God and what He expects from us as Christ followers.