15 Tips for a Deep and Effective Prayer Life

The following tips and quotes on praying effectively come from a new volume called Encouraged to Pray: Classic Spurgeon Sermons on Prayer.


1. Be specific in your asking.

“To make prayer of any value, there should be definite objects for which to plead. My brethren, we often ramble in our prayers after this, that, and the other, and we get nothing because in each we do not really desire anything.”

“Do not merely plead with God for sinners in general, but always mention some in particular. If you are a Sunday-school teacher, don’t simply ask that your class may be blessed, but pray for your children definitely by name before the Most High. And if there be a mercy in your household that you crave, don’t go in a round-about way, but be simple and direct in your pleadings with God.”

2. You must pray in faith.

“Unless I believe my prayer to be effectual it will not be, for on my faith will it to a great extent depend.”

“Do you always remember, beloved, in coming to the mercy-seat, that you are coming to a King, and to One who gives like a King? Do you always open your mouth wide, and ask great things of the King who is so ready to bestow them upon you?”

3. Fight distractions that keep you from prayer.

“Nor should a true Christian relax his prayer through mental difficulties, I mean those perturbations which distract the mind, and prevent the concentration of our thoughts. Such ills will happen to us.”

“It is a grand thing when the soul can bolt the doors against distractions, and keep out those intruders; for then it is that prayer and faith will perform their miracle, and our soul shall be filled with the blessing of the Lord.”

4. Focus on abiding in Christ for more fruit in prayer.

“Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. Just as the leaf and the fruit will come out of the vine-branch without any conscious effort on the part of the branch, but simply because of its living union with the stem, so prayer buds, and blossoms, and fruits out of souls abiding in Jesus.”

“Dear brethren, if we shut our ears to what Jesus tells us, we shall never have power in prayer, nor shall we enjoy intimate communion with the Well-beloved.”

5. Pray the promises of God.

“The best praying man is the man who is most believingly familiar with the promises of God. After all, prayer is nothing but taking God’s promises to him, and saying to him, “Do as thou hast said.” Prayer is the promise utilized. A prayer which is not based on a promise has no true foundation.”

6. Don’t give up in prayer—keep praying.

“When we cannot pray as we would, it is good to pray as we can.”

“If I feel myself disinclined to pray, then is the time when I need to pray more than ever.”

7. If you struggle getting started in prayer, read the Bible first and respond to what God says.

“If the flesh in its weakness hampers the spirit, then let the Bible reading come before the praying, that the soul may be awakened thereby.”

“Dear brethren, if we shut our ears to what Jesus tells us, we shall never have power in prayer, nor shall we enjoy intimate communion with the Well-beloved.”

“Dear Mr. Müller, who is a man living near to God, whose every word is like a pearl, said the other day, ‘Sometimes when I go into my closet to pray, I find I cannot pray as I would. What do I then? Why, since I cannot speak to the Lord, I beg the Lord to speak to me, and therefore I open the Scriptures and read my portion; and then I find the Lord gives me matter for prayer.’”

8. Regularly confess your sins.

“I never expect, until I get to heaven, to be able to cease confessing sin every day and every time I stand before God.”

“The very invitation to us to pray implies that there are blessings waiting for us at the mercy-seat: ‘let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace.’”

9. Don’t worry about praying eloquent prayers.

“A mother can translate baby-talk: she comprehends incomprehensible noises. Even so doth our Father in heaven know all about our poor baby talk, for our prayer is not much better.”

“True prayer is measured by weight, and not by length. A single groan before God may have more fulness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.”

10. When we don’t feel like praying, pray for help.

“Not to pray because you do not feel fit to pray is like saying, ‘I will not take medicine because I am too ill.’ Pray for prayer: pray yourself, by the Spirit’s assistance, into a praying frame.”

“Pray for prayer—pray till you can pray; pray to be helped to pray, and give not up praying because thou canst not pray, for it is when thou thinkest thou canst not pray that thou art most praying; and sometimes when thou hast no sort of comfort in thy supplications, it is then that thy heart all broken and cast down is really wrestling and truly prevailing with the Most High.”

11. Pray humbly.

“I have heard prayers that have seemed to me like dictating to God, rather than the humble, reverent petitions which should be presented by the creature to the Creator, or by the children of God to their loving Father in heaven. We are to come boldly unto the throne of grace, yet always with submission in our hearts…”

12. Dedicate yourself to prayer for a deeper spiritual life and more useful ministry.

“The best way by which a prophet and teacher and learner can know the reserved truths, the higher and more mysterious truths of God, is by waiting upon God in prayer.”

“The saint may expect to discover deeper experience and to know more of the higher spiritual life, by being much in prayer.”

13. Pray without ceasing.

“If I am to pray without ceasing, then every second must be suitable for prayer, and there is not one unholy moment in the hour, nor one unaccepted hour in the day, nor one unhallowed day in the year.”

“As we breathe without ceasing, so must we pray without ceasing.”

“When prayer is a mechanical act, and there is no soul in it, it is a slavery and a weariness; but when it is really living prayer, and when the man prays because he is a Christian and cannot help praying, when he prays along the street, prays in his business, prays in the house, prays in the field, when his whole soul is full of prayer, then he cannot have too much of it.”

14. Pray big prayers.

“Our needs are great, let our askings be great, and the supply shall be great too.”

“Think not that God will be angry with thee for asking too much from him, and imagine not that thou wilt insult him by asking him for little things. If thou art a believer in Jesus, God is thy Father, so speak to him as thou wouldst to thine earthly father, only have far more confidence in coming to him than thou wouldst have in approaching the most affectionate earthly parent.”

15. Cultivate a grateful heart.

“You shall get your answers to prayer when you multiply your thanksgivings in all your prayers and supplications: rest you sure of that.”

“Do not pump up unwilling and formal prayer, my brethren; but take down the hymn-book and sing. While you praise the Lord for what you have, you will find your rocky heart begin to dissolve and flow in rivers.”