Prayer and Life-changing Spiritual Growth
Updated: Nov 22
Description: Read 5 steps to enrich your Christian prayer life. Every step helps to nurture your soul and foster life-changing spiritual growth.
The hustle and bustle of daily life makes it difficult to find moments of peace – time for prayer. Yet, for Christians, nurturing our souls and experiencing spiritual growth is an essential and rewarding journey.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is powerful. It’s more than just a ritual; more than a (sometimes reluctant) duty to be squeezed into a busy schedule. It's a direct line of communication with God – the supreme creator who holds the universe in his hands. Through the grace of Jesus, we can approach God with confidence. We can share our thoughts, fears, and hopes. We can open our hearts and souls, and invite God to work in our lives. So let’s explore some simple and practical steps to help enrich our prayer lives, nurture our souls, and foster spiritual growth.
Step 1: Scripture Reading
One of the most effective ways to enrich our prayer life is to start with scripture. The Bible is a source of Divine guidance. Combining a passage with prayer can bring profound insights and connection with God.
Example: If we read Psalm 23, we're reminded of God's role as our shepherd. We can blend this into our prayer by thanking God for his guidance and asking for his continued shepherding in our life. Alternatively, we might pick a few verses and let their meaning inspire our thoughts and become our prayer.
Step 2: Personal Reflection
Reflection is a core part of spiritual growth. In moments of contemplation, we can express gratitude, realise and confess our struggles, and crucially, ask for God’s guiding wisdom.
Example: We can reflect on family or church relationships: where there are particular things we should be thankful for, or issues that need to be addressed. Similarly, we might reflect on our day, perhaps where we didn’t help when we had the chance. By bringing such things before God, we can see opportunities for spiritual growth. With God's guidance, these can be reflected back into our everyday lives.
Step 3: Listening
God actively wants to grow his relationship with each of us – and prayer is a two-way conversation. Of course, we must speak our heart, but equally we must listen. We need to be attentive, whether God speaks through a gentle impression, the glory of his creation, dreams, visions, a Bible verse that flashes to mind, or simply his still, small voice coming into our hearts.
Example: After pouring out our thoughts and concerns to God, we can take time to sit quietly and listen. In the silence, we can feel a sense of peaceful reassurance, knowing that God is with us and that we can trust him. But God will not be rushed. Sometimes, there is just the peace of silence. At other times, he’ll use events, a combination of circumstances, or other people to speak to us. Being alert to God means listening out for him in a very broad sense.
Step 4: Confession and Repentance
Confession is a powerful step in spiritual growth. It really helps to acknowledge our mistakes: the things we chose not to do, as well as the wrong things we did. We need to seek God's forgiveness prayerfully. Awareness of our faults, coupled with repentance, is a turning point. We are forgiven and given a clean slate. It’s our moment to strive harder and make positive changes in our lives.
Example: For some people, gossiping is just being friendly, but is it? Similarly, is being over critical simply ‘trying to help’? Is being overanxious and wallowing in negative speculation a reflection of our true level of trust in God? Everybody tells lies, so does our stretching the truth to breaking point really matter? Step 2 above is about reflection. It’s about asking God to open our eyes to see ourselves more clearly. Doing this can help us develop greater integrity and powerfully advance spiritual growth.
Step 5: Intercession for Others
Prayer is about more than personal needs; it's also an opportunity to intercede for others. Praying for the well-being of Church, friends and family – and indeed the world – can broaden our focus and enrich our spiritual journey. We become more aware that Christ suffered for everyone, that our Lord understands suffering, and that he is the compassionate one in whom we can trust.
Example: Praying for others who are going through difficult times is absolutely right. It’s a comfort to them to know that their struggles are being brought before God – and this is enriching for us. But as members of Christ’s Church, we should also unite in prayer as one body, asking for his gracious intervention in issues as diverse as environmental concerns to putting an end to injustice. Broader horizons, and remembering that we do not pray alone, fosters spiritual growth.
Challenges and Solutions
Here are some practical solutions to overcome common obstacles to prayer:
1. Set a routine: designate a specific time each day for prayer. Consistency will help establish a rewarding prayer habit.
2. Create a special space: if you can, dedicate a quiet and comfortable place for prayer, somewhere with minimal distractions. This helps focus.
3. Use prayer aids: utilise resources like prayer journals, devotional books, or prayer apps. These guide prayer and provide structure.
4. Seek accountability: partner with a friend or family member for mutual prayer and support. Knowing that someone else is sharing our spiritual journey can be motivating.
5. Be patient: spiritual growth is a lifelong journey. Trust that God is working, even when progress feels slow.
The Fruits of Spiritual Growth
As we continue to invest in our prayer life, we will experience the fruits of spiritual growth. These may include:
Increased peace and inner tranquillity.
A deeper understanding of God's plan for our lives.
Improved ability to handle life's challenges.
Stronger connections with our faith community.
A heart more aligned with love, compassion, and forgiveness.
In a world filled with noise and distractions, our spiritual journey is a precious and intimate mission. Embracing prayer as a means to experience God’s transformative power, deepens our connection with the Divine, gives comfort, and strengthens faith. In short: by enriching our prayer life, we nurture our souls, and help foster deep and life-changing spiritual growth.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.