Make a commitment to get it done, and the right way.

I once read someone describe the difficulty of getting to daily Bible reading by saying “Some days it feels as though Satan himself is pressing his finger down on the cover.” At times prayer can feel that challenging too, for some reason. Distractions pop up, our attention is diverted, time runs short… and next thing you know I’ve either run out of time or only have a few moments to hastily throw some words out to God. Maybe you’ve felt the same way, that some days it’s all you can do to stop and clear your mind for prayer.

Plenty of things in life are like that, though, and as with any of them there’s only one thing to do: just do it. If we believe it’s important, then we understand we can’t let ourselves be deterred. Set a time and be sure to get it done, every single day. Don’t just do it to say you’ve done it, though. Be sure to give it its due diligence.

Follow Daniel’s example.

Once the habit has been established, Daniel’s example of three prayers a day (Daniel 6:10) seems a good target to shoot for. Praying in the morning helps us pray for the day ahead, praying in mid-day helps us draw strength as a respite from the day’s stresses, and praying at night helps us look back to give thanks for the good and to confess any shortcomings.

It can feel hard to fit in at times, but I have two thoughts on the matter: one, don’t overdo it and feel like each session has to be a lengthy visit with the Lord. Some will be longer than others, and that’s fine. Two, phones, social media, TV, podcasts, video games, and all kinds of other items show that most of us have more time than we think. We just have to budget it wisely and set our priorities.

Have at least one “scripted” prayer per day.

By “scripted” I don’t mean a prayer that is written out and repeated every day, but rather a list you keep in a prayer journal, app, or something similar. When I don’t do this, things begin to fall through the cracks. I forget to pray for the brother or sister in church who’s going through something, I lack consistency when I need to be persistent (Luke 18:7), and I sometimes lose track of the attributes I mean to pray for.

It will likely be your longest prayer of the day, so be sure to leave time for it and work through your prayer list. You’ll notice the added benefit of seeing prayer requests granted, reminding us to go back and give thanks like the one leper out of the ten (Luke 17:11-19).

Don’t leave out the praise and adoration.

The basic ACTS structure of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) is a pretty good one to go by, but for some reason the adoration often feels like the easiest one to skip over. In fact, it can very easily run together with the Thanksgiving section of prayer, but adoring God for who He is and thanking Him for what He’s done are two distinct matters, both of which are essential to getting prayer right.

What adoration does for us, and why we see it so often in the Psalms and other Scriptural songs and prayers, is remind us of the greatness of the One to whom we’re speaking. Acknowledging His attributes of power, love, kindness, justice, and the like give us the faith we need for the rest of the prayer. When we confess our sins and ask forgiveness, we can know our High Priest is mediating for us and our sins have been forgiven. When we thank Him, we know we are thanking Him as children to a Father, not as a cold neutral who demands a works-based quid pro quo for every request answered. When we come to supplication and ask for God’s help in various ways, we can know He is listening, He is powerful to help, and He is caring toward us. Not sure how to word adoration and praise? I suggest…

Pray the Scriptures.

Using the Psalms as our prayer book teaches us to address God as David and other inspired writers did, and in a way He clearly endorses. We learn how to pray in life’s triumphs, injustices, trials, and any other scenario. Other times, we can pray over the passage we are currently reading or studying, asking for strength to grow into the commandments given, or giving thanks for the truths revealed, or praising God for what it tells us about Him. The more we pray the Scriptures, the more we develop the mind of Christ in how we see ourselves and the world around us.