Jani: Hello, everyone. We’re so grateful you’re here with us today. The “us” is Ray and Jani.
Ray: Hi, honey, how are you?
Jani: I’m good! I’m kinda glad we’re podcasting. I get to see you a little bit more during the day when we do this.
Ray: I know. This is fun.
Jani: Thanks for joining us, Ray.
Ray: It’s a privilege.
Question For Today: “How Do I Grow Deeper In Prayer?”
Jani: Today we’re going to do another Ask Jani. I should turn it Ask Jani and Ray because I would really like your insight on this. It’s a question about prayer. And it really is about the practicality of prayer. But I want you to speak into it as well, honey. Why don’t I lead off with a question which says, “one of the areas that I really want to grow in this year is prayer. Do you have any books you could recommend or any thoughts or things that have helped you grow in your prayer life? I have three young children, ages six, three, and one.” Oh, remember those days, Ray?
Ray: Busy life.
Jani: She goes on to say, “I pray all throughout my day, but I want to go deeper in it. And would love to hear what you have to say on this topic.”
Oh, dear, busy mama, I understand the struggle that you’re going through. You want to go deeper with the Lord, you want to be able to see him answer prayer in your life and in the lives of your children. You want to see his power in your own life. And yet you feel so busy that it’s hard to meet with him on a regular basis. So you’re asking me how I think you can go deeper. I’ll start off and then I’m going to toss it over to Ray for his advice.
Pray God’s Word Back To Him
One way, I think is just to pray a verse back to the Lord clinging to him. I think of Philippians 4:13.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13
So you can pray, “Lord, I can do everything because you will give me the strength for it. So give me the strength to pray today. I want to go deeper with you.” And you could meditate on that.
Ray: You know, that is really striking, Jani, because that is an all weather, moment by moment, perfect prayer. You know, “Lord, give me strength to do this thing right now.” And of course, that’s in fact how we all pray. And the Lord loves that.
Jani: And you will go deeper with him. Whether it’s because your baby’s waking up with an ear infection or you’re tearing up over the budget where you don’t quite have enough money to make it again, or you’re lonely, whatever the need is, God will give you the strength.
Ray: And he’s not tired of hearing that prayer from us.
Jani: Oh, aren’t you glad? What a welcome we have with our father.
Helpful Books On Prayer
Now this listener asked for a couple books. And I’m going to also offer an idea that has helped my prayer life.
One book that I have found so helpful is Beth Moore’s book called Praying God’s Word. Beth Moore wrote this book entitled, Praying God’s Word. And it is so helpful, because every chapter is filled with Scripture that you can pray. And I found it extremely helpful. When I don’t know what to pray or how to pray, I’ll take this and just look over a few pages and find prayers fresh from God’s word. Straight from his word to his heart and I can pray them. So I would encourage you to get that book, Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore.
Another book that has been a real encouragement to me in my prayer life is by Paul Miller, called A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World. Yeah, so this dear mom has a very distracting world. You have three lively little distractions who are very needy. I found…
Ray: Haha, lively little distractions!
Jani: You laugh. But you remember! I remember when the children were little, sometimes it was hard to get up early and sometimes it was hard to find the time to pray because they would interrupt me. The thing I found most helpful was for me to pray on my knees when they were little.
Ray: Wow, why was that?
Jani: Because they would know mommy was talking to God, especially then. So if they came in to the living room or were old enough to get out of their crib and come downstairs and want something, they saw me on my knees, I would say, “I’m talking to Jesus just now. Give me another minute” and they learned that not right away, but through the months and years that when mommy was on her knees, they could wait a few minutes and let her finish praying. If they’re distracting, you help them to see that talking with God is a priority in your life.
Tip: Develop A Prayer Notebook
Another thing that has helped me is developing a prayer notebook. My mother-in-law taught me this, your dear mom, Anne Ortlund, years ago. I started it in 1975, Ray. Can you believe?
Ray: You’re still doing that?
Jani: I’m still doing it. I wrote in it today. It has really helped me,
Ray: To structure, you mean?
Jani: To structure my prayer life. And what I’ve done is just, this wasn’t necessarily mom’s idea, it’s the way I do it. I pray for certain things on each day of the week. For instance, Mondays are the whole Ortlund side of the family. Tuesdays are my side of the family. Wednesday’s are important children in our life. And like that. Now, of course, I pray for our children and grandchildren. I tried to mention them to the Lord every day. That takes some time. It’s worth getting up.
How Jani Lengthens Her Prayer Time
Now, this is how I learned to lengthen my prayer time. Our kids were all grown and gone, I’m embarrassed to admit this to our listeners, and I was embarrassed about the length of my prayer life.
Ray: You mean that it was too long or too short?
Jani: Too short. Oh, very short. So I decided that I was going to pray five minutes every day. Isn’t that awful? Just five minutes. I’m so sorry to admit that. And I started that first year and I actually set a timer, honey. And I would try…
Ray: I did not know this!
Jani: It’s amazing what you might learn if you listen to my podcast! So I set the timer for five minutes. Sometimes I would write my prayers in my prayer notebook. Sometimes I would just say them. But I would try to meet with the Lord for five minutes. If I couldn’t think what to pray, I’d pick up Beth’s book and pray scripture. The next year, I increased it by one whole minute. For six minutes. Well, this year, I’m up to 13 minutes. I don’t do it every day. Some days I, you know, today we had company for breakfast. I didn’t get to my 13 minutes. But I figure by the time I’m 85, I’ll be up to nearly 30 minutes of prayer. I’ll have time to pray when I’m 85.
Ray: You’ll be so incredibly saintly. But you already are, darling.
Jani: But I share that so are listener understands: set a simple goal. Set a goal and ask the Lord to help. You may be in your life with three little ones. It’s for one minute each morning.
Set a simple goal. Set a goal and ask the Lord to help.– Jani Ortlund
Ray: Wow. That’s good.
Jani: Talk to the Lord. Keep a list if you can in a prayer notebook and pull out the sheets when it gets to full and store them somewhere. I’ve got our my prayer pages from 1975 upstairs in our closet. And I can look back and see how God answered.
Ray: Darling, you’re fantastic. That’s so wise.
Some Wisdom From Ray On Prayer
Jani: Well, we need to hear from you, Ray. You’re wise in prayer too. Can you give us some help?
Ray: Well, darling, I’m really struck by what you just said because it’s so doable. And when we think of prayer, we might think of something that is so lofty and even unattainable that we’re sort of defeated before we even start but what you just described, even I could do that!
Our Imperfect Prayers
Well, my first thought whenever I think of prayer is something that J.I. Packer, my favorite theologian, says in his book on prayer, “God fixes our prayers on their way up.” And I am so thankful for that. Because sometimes my prayers really need a little work, they need some fixing. And I offer to the Lord what I have, and I give it to him in all the inadequacy of it and I just trust him with it. So I put my hope in God’s mercy and grace, even in my experience of prayer.
Jani: Not in in my perfect prayer.
That’s a help, honey.
Praying A Pre-Approved Prayer
Ray: Yeah. Then the second step I take in my understanding is Jesus gave us a prayer that is pre-approved: the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. We should not be above praying the Lord’s Prayer. This is for simple, ordinary people who want to connect with God and offer him a prayer that they know He will answer. So our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name and so forth, we can literally sit down, open up our Bibles to Matthew 6, and just quietly pray that meditatively on each line, and give it to God. That is a wonderful prayer. Jesus Himself gave us that prayer. And we can pray that in as you say, sweetheart, in like one minute.
Praying With A Partner
And then another thought, sweetheart, is something that you and I are doing more and more. Now we have the luxury of doing this now that the children are grown and out of the house but commonly, you and I have our devotions at some point during the morning when we can both break away and get together. And we typically have a cup of tea together, we read a Psalm together out loud and then we just stop and pray. So we enjoy a cup of tea for a minute and then we read a Psalm, we pray over our family, we pray over everything that’s on our hearts, we thank the Lord, we give ourselves to Him. And we’re done. And what is it? Five minutes, maybe? But I love doing that. And my heart is lifted up whenever we come together that way for our devotions.
Using Technology To Help Us Pray
And then here’s a last sort of practical idea, I would recommend that I find helpful. There is an app for smartphones called The Daily Office that is published by or was created by the Anglican Church in North America, The Daily Office. And it’s a red app with a sort of silver cross in the center. And there are prayers on this app, one touch away for every day of the year. In fact, there’s a prayer for the morning. There’s a prayer for midday. And there’s a prayer for the evening.
So a young mom like this wonderful lady that sent in this fantastic Ask Jani question, could when she has a one minute break in the middle of her day, could pick up her smartphone, touch that app and what appears is the midday prayer, and actually there are more resources there than I’m even able to use, but there’s a prayer called a collect, which is a short request of God that’s often offered there. There’s a reading and so forth, and a Psalm to read. It’s all there. Three opportunities every day, and you can just use what you need right at the moment. And then keep going in your busy life. And you’ve had a moment with God right in the middle of everything.
Jani: Darling, I want to download that app. Give us the name again.
Ray: Oh, yeah. It’s called The Daily Office.
Jani: All right, The Daily Office. Well, as soon as we finish this podcast, I’m going to download it. Thank you for that. Those are such good words. I love how you reminded us that the Lord fixes our prayers on the way up. It makes me think there’s a great freedom in praying.
Ray: Oh yes, good point.
Jani: How our Father loves to hear our words as much as we love to hear our babbling two year old tried to speak to us.
Ray: We don’t criticize our child for speaking at a four year old level.
Ray: We love that interaction with that child. And we know, that child is on his or her way to being a significant adult.
Ray: And that’s who we are before our Father in heaven.
Jani: Isn’t that wonderful?
Ray: We are on our way, and he, through Christ and for his sake, receives us and rejoices over us.
Jani: Yes. And then I love your reminder about the Lord’s Prayer. I wonder if some of our listeners might not want to use that for several weeks as their family devotion and teach through it, the different phrases and help their children to memorize it and be able to pray it together as a family. That would be a wonderful family devotion idea.
Ray: Just one line at a time.
Jani: Yes. And see how God would answer that. Then also you encouraged us to pray with someone as you and I are trying to do in the morning times after we’ve had our personal devotions often we gather for something together. If you’re finding it hard to pray, find a prayer partner. Ask another young mom if she can bring her kids over and you can take two minutes and pray together. But find someone else who will pray with you and for you. And then finally this wonderful app. Oh, thank you, Ray. Those are really great suggestions.
Ray: Oh honey, thank you. Thanks for letting me be on the podcast today.
Jani: Well, as we wind up, I want to encourage you to keep up with your summer reading. Let us know what you’re reading. We always want to hear about good books. And again, feel free to go to our website, herestoresmysoul.org with any of your Ask Jani questions. We love to hear from you.