What are some practical helps to deepen a desire and love for prayer?
What comes to my mind—and I did this more in the first 10 or 15 years of my ministry here—is that every time prayer week rolled around at Bethlehem I would preach on prayer. Which meant I had to study prayer. Which meant that leading up to it I began to read a book about prayer.
I've got lots of books in my library on prayer. And they were usually not very technical books. They were experiential books often on "My Life of Prayer" or "My Discipline of Prayer." And I would get very inspired! Especially by biographical books of people like Hudson Taylor. When you read the story of this man's prayer life, you're really inspired.
So my advice would be to read the stories of great saints who have prayed well. Be inspired by them.
Secondly, do what the Bible does. That is, pray into the word. Pray over the word. It's very hard for anybody to spend an hour in prayer without the Bible as the basis of their prayer. The mind just wanders too much. It's so hard!
Prayer is keeping God in focus as we bring up our longings to him, and having him create longings that are then offered back to him. But that doesn't happen unless you're letting him talk. So we open our Bibles and get on our knees, and we begin to read, turning what we read into prayer as we go.
So I recommend those three things:
- Read something inspiring about prayer
- Cry out to God that he give you a spirit of prayer, and
- Pray over the word of God.
Maybe one last thing: Be in a group of praying people. Be around people who pray better than you do.
I'm in about 5 groups a week for thirty minutes of prayer each. All we do is pray. We don't talk about the Bible. We just pray. And those are powerful times to me. They help me pray. I listen to prayer. Prayer is a community thing.