The Exercise of Prayer: Forming Healthy Prayer Habits
The exercise of prayer is similar to the exercise of your physical body. Let’s say you wanted to get in shape. Normally, the initial workouts are the toughest because your physical conditioning at this point is probably very poor. Therefore, you do not want to over exert yourself. If you can only do fifteen minutes of aerobics or weights, then you begin there. You will find that as you remain diligent, the length of each workout will increase because your stamina increases. In order to achieve consistent progress you simply must first show up at the gym! There you will get the necessary guidance from a qualified fitness instructor, someone who knows more than you regarding how to get in shape. This person will help you put together an effective exercise program. After several weeks of training, you will begin to notice results. Your physical appearance will begin to transform into the desired outcome. In actuality, the change began in your body after the first workout and you just couldn’t see it! The same is true when you begin any prayer program. As you spend time in His presence, you are being transformed.
"And all of us, as with unveiled face, (because we) continue to behold (in the Word of God) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another, (for this comes) from the Lord (who is) the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:1)"
At first you will not notice how you are changing, but over time you will notice a transformation in your love walk. You will notice a transformation in your attitude or your response to life’s challenges. You may even notice a greater sensitivity to His voice, or you will carry a tangible awareness of His presence and you will have an overall greater peace in your daily life.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6, 7)"
While following a consistent program of physical exercise, you will find that your body will eventually begin to ‘crave’ working out. Diet is also important; eating the right food for your body type will produce positive results. After you have some knowledge of how your body works, you will then be able to develop your own program, one that fits your lifestyle! There are days when you are motivated to work out and then there are days you just do it because you know it is what your body needs in order to be healthy and for you to look your best. We do not allow our body to dictate to us; we tell it what to do. Your body and your mind may make all kinds of excuses as to why you cannot pray today. Just do it! You will find over time that you will begin to ‘crave’ prayer.
Prayer goes from sacrifice to joy, from desire to discipline to delight. Your spiritual diet is also important. Meditate on the Word of God. (Prov. 4:20–23) Know who you are in Christ, and know what the Bible promises. A balanced Christian should maintain a life in prayer, and have consistent devotional time in the Word of God. (2 Tim. 2:15) As you yield yourself to God as a house of prayer, the rewards will extend into all of eternity; your works while here on earth will follow you. (Rev. 14:13)