By Raelyn Pracht
I have always been amazed and, admittedly, a bit intimidated hearing other people pray. Conversing with the Almighty seems to come naturally to my friends—the words dripping off their tongue as calmly and beautifully as wax on the side of a lit taper candle. These prayer veterans don’t seem to stumble over finding the right words like I do. They come before the throne just as they are, wherever they happen to be today. Their prayers sound like a conversation over coffee with a close friend. In this case, the friend is Jesus.
I want a prayer life like that—so free and open! I want to invite Jesus to the table for a conversation. “What am I missing?” I wondered as I heard my friends pray. That longing for more led me to do something I have never done before: A Prayer Life Audit.
An audit is an inspection or examination of an individual’s account. A Prayer Life Audit is a spiritual examination or assessment of your prayer life. This audit offers a journey into the natural world of our prayer lives.
A prayer audit can be as simple or as complex as you desire it to be. A great place to start is by working backwards. Ask yourself “Where do I want my prayer life to be?” Joyfully dive into this question. Once you find the answer, list all the prayers you have said in the past week. You can do this on a piece of paper or on your computer. You could even experiment with a prayer journal. Write every prayer you say each day and revisit your words in a week. Examine and assess the types of prayers you lifted up. Take time to unwrap the delightful inventory of the many conversations with our Lord.
For me, my prayer audit involved listing all the prayers I remembered praying in the past week, then reflecting on what prayers were the most common. Finally, I organized my prayer life into categories, and here is what I discovered:
- I say the Lord’s Prayer daily.
- I am quick to lift up prayers of thanksgiving.
- I pray for specific needs of family and friends.
- I pray for help when I am scared or anxious.
- I pray when I find myself in difficult and trying circumstances.
- I pray for wisdom and guidance when making a decision.
When I read over my prayer inventory, I was pleasantly surprised. I seemed to be ticking some of the most common and most important boxes. But I also felt like my prayer life was still lacking something important, something I recognized in the prayers my friends tend to pray.
I was missing the beautiful, sweet center—the beating heart of daily life. I prayed at all the major points of my faith walk, from great or amazing moments to difficult or confusing ones; but I was missing the moments in between. It’s like I had marked points A and B on my prayer graph but forgot to connect the dots and therefore missed all the points in between.
I think maybe the apostle Paul was talking about those points in between when he imagined a vibrant life of prayer: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).
Pray without ceasing.
Don’t wait for the amazing or difficult moments.
Connect the dots.
As I have started to live out what I have seen in the prayers of my friends, I have begun to experience my conversations with Jesus in a different way. Prayer is so much more than just verbalizing thanksgiving and needs. Prayer is about recognizing the constant presence of Jesus. Prayer is knowing that even those things left unspoken, the hidden secret things you dare not utter aloud hiding in the deepest recesses of your heart—even those hidden things are not hidden at all. Psalm 139 rejoices in the fact that God knows the secrets of the heart.
The more aware we are of the Spirit’s presence all around us in our everyday life, the more those moments between Point A (where we give thanks) and Point B (where we petition for help, or wisdom, or removal of difficult circumstances, etc.) will be filled with unceasing prayers, spoken or unspoken.
This revelation revitalized my prayer life. Now I am more mindful of Jesus’ presence throughout my day. I am aware of every prayer I think, feel, or verbalize. I know Jesus is listening to the constant conversation I am having with Him. What a comfort!
If you feel like something is missing from your prayer life, maybe a prayer life audit could help. Where are you in your prayer life? What are you lacking? What are the major points on the graph you are hitting? What about the points in between?
Listen as other people pray. Find someone whose prayers stir your heart and imagination. Ask them about how they experience prayer or what they think prayer is all about. Experiment to find out what works for you.
Above all, invite Jesus to the table where the conversation never stops. You will find a beautiful change in your relationship with Jesus cultivated by this wonderful awareness of those in-between moments.