The Most Effective Way to Improve Your Prayer Life

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

Praying well takes practice. Praying through the Psalms has been the most effective method of improving my own prayer life.

I am perpetually dissatisfied with my prayer life. Prayer is important to me, yet clearly not important enough based on the degree of prayerlessness I regularly find myself fighting against. I thoroughly enjoy praying. I’ve never once regretted taking the time to pray. And yet, after nearly 4 decades of prayer, I still have to work at it. It’s not habitual enough for my liking.

There have been seasons in my prayer life, as in all other aspects of my life. Seasons of drought when I hardly pray at all, when I simply cannot pray or don’t know how or what to pray. Seasons of plenty when I pray often and abundantly. Seasons of learning, studying, growing in prayer. Seasons of deep intercession. Seasons of sweet, intimate fellowship in prayer with Jesus, my friend and Savior.

The Best Book on Prayer

Resources abound to teach and inspire us in prayer. I’m grateful for this. I welcome the insight of those wiser than myself who have studied prayer in God’s Word and have lived lives of faithfulness in prayer. I’m encouraged by those who share their own journeys on the path to deeper communion with Christ in prayer – the valleys included.

It is this endless pursuit of greater consistency in prayer, this ongoing struggle against complacency in prayer, this deepening awareness of my own weakness in prayer that has thrust me into the Book of Psalms. Oh, how I love the Psalms! What better instruction on connecting with the God of the Word than the Word itself?!

I’ve found the most effective way to improve my prayer life is by praying. And I’ve learned the most about prayer by praying through the Psalms.

The Psalms teach me to praise, worship, adore, marvel, and stand in awe of the Lord. They show me how to express my needs – and yes, even wants – to our loving Father. I’m encouraged by the laments which give voice to the reality of pain and suffering, sorrow and grief, while reminding me of the One in whom my hope is found. Confession and repentance in the Psalms help me to keep a heart of humility before the Holy One.

With every chapter, every turn of the page in this beloved “prayer book”, I learn to pour out my heart to a God who is both personal and powerful.

The Real Prayers of a Real Man

David, “a man after God’s own heart”, wrote many of the Psalms. We sometimes forget that David was a real man with real weaknesses, with a sinful heart, living in the real world full of temptation and turmoil. David experienced the unbearable grief of losing a child. He suffered the betrayal of friends and family. He committed grievous sins and had to face the consequences. His sin and suffering glared him in the face daily. Yet he prayed.

Although David lived in a different era and a different culture, he wasn’t all that different from you and me. He just wanted to serve God. He just wanted to make a difference. He just wanted to be loved… When his life was in peril—David prayed. When his hopes were in jeopardy—David prayed. When his enemies were closing in—David prayed… David’s prayers are raw, real, and revelatory.

Sarah Koontz, Living By Design Ministries

How grateful I am for David’s diligence in prayer and for the gift of his prayers being recorded! David’s prayers are a treasure to us today.

Now there’s something to ponder! The personal prayers of a single man have survived for centuries and continue to guide, encourage, teach, and inspire generation after generation of followers of Christ.

How about you? How’s your prayer life? Have you ever prayed through a Psalm? Do you struggle to stay consistent through the summer when routine is lost? Are you stuck in a rut of praying “by rote”? Are you lacking passion and the heartfelt outpouring that deepens your fellowship with Jesus?

Pray Like David

Pray Like David” is the newest free online Bible study from Living By Design Ministries. (The link to sign up for the study will go live on July 18th. The study itself begins on July 1st.) This 6-week study is designed to fit your busy summer schedule. Each week, you’ll receive only 1 teaching email packed with resources to help guide your study throughout the week.

The “Pray Like David” Bible Study will help you:

● Learn about the life and legacy of King David
● Study the language of prayer in the Psalms
● Draw near to God through personal prayer
● Infuse your worship with the songs of the Bible
● Rest and rejoice in the beauty of the Psalms

Along with a weekly devotional focused on a specific aspect of David’s life and circumstances, you’ll receive:

  • a daily prayer based on one of David’s psalms (in both text and audio formats),
  • a free song download (a Psalm set to music) from The Psalms Project each week, and
  • printable journaling pages from Girlfriends in the Word.

I enjoyed the fresh look at the life of David in this study. The format of one teaching email each week with resources for daily prayer is ideal for seasons of life when consistency is more challenging. The time commitment for “Pray Like David” is completely manageable and multiple formats make it possible to participate even for busy women on the go.

My personal criteria for choosing a good Bible study is outlined elsewhere. “Pray Like David” checks all the boxes.

If you’re looking for something to keep you consistent in connecting with Jesus this summer, or of you want to learn more about prayer or the life of David, I encourage you to sign up for “Pray Like David”.

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