5 Steps to Cultivating Effective Prayer

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Matthew 6:6 is packed with incredible truths about effective prayer. The kind of prayer that sees results. The kind of prayer that cultivates a very real and personal relationship with God. The kind of prayer that Jesus talks about. And He gives us five steps to cultivate this kind of prayer.


“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6 (NKJV) 

Matthew 6:6 is only one verse, but it is packed with incredible truths about effective prayer. Prayer is not a mere religious activity or an obligation to God. It is not meant to be limited within the four walls of a local church. It is not meant to be something we do “on the fly” or “on the go.” Prayer is intentional. Prayer is relational. Prayer is meant to be very real and personal. Prayer is about spending quality time with a loving God.


Jesus gives us five steps to cultivate a very personal and effective time of prayer with God.

 “But you, when you pray…”

Jesus opens this verse by directing the conversation to the individual–to me and to you–and He is wanting to teach us, individually, how to cultivate a very real and personal time of prayer with God. Here are the five steps:


Step #1: Make Time To Pray

“…when you pray…”

This kind of personal and effective prayer does not just happen by default. Find the time and make it happen. If you do not intentionally and proactively make time to pray, you’ll end up not finding the time to pray.

Be very intentional with finding the time to pray. Find the right time. Quality time. Not rushed time. Put it on your calendar if you must. Make an appointment with God and keep it. Don’t squeeze out your time with God for something else. Be very proactive and intentional to make time to pray, and then guard it!


Step #2: Find the Right Place to Pray

“..when you pray, go into your room…”

Finding the right location is just as important as finding the right time. And you don’t need to go to a prayer chapel or confessional. You don’t even have to drive to church to pray. In fact, you don’t have to go very far at all. Jesus very clearly said you can pray in your own home; in your own room. Sometimes the best location may be as close to you as your bedroom. Or it may be a local park in your neighborhood. The point is to find a good location nearby where you can spend quality, personal time with God.


Step #3: Eliminate Distractions

 “…when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door…”

Once you find the right time and place, it’s important to eliminate distractions. It’s amazing how many distractions exist in our lives today. Entertainment. Music. Internet. Facebook. Instagram. Emails. Phone calls. Text messages. Calendar alerts. Task lists. Not to mention all the things you have on your mind. And what’s worse, we are surrounded by the very devices that deliver all these distractions. Television. Telephones. Smartphones. Computers. Radios. The list goes on. We are bombarded by distractions.

Jesus very clearly tells us that if we want to cultivate a personal and effective time of prayer with God, we need to eliminate distractions. Close the door. Shut off your cell phone. Close down your computer. Turn off the music. Tell your friends and family that you are unavailable. Do what you can to greatly reduce and even eliminate the potential for any distractions.

This particular step is another reason why it is important to find the right time (step #1) and the right place (step #2) to pray. We need to find a time and location that lends itself to a distraction free environment. Of course you may not be able to eliminate every single distraction, but be very intentional to greatly reduce it. For example, if you have children, you obviously need to tend to your kids, but do your best to find a time and location where the distractions may be minimal. If you live with others, you may need to find the right time when you can be alone with God. Or you may need to find another location that lends itself to a better environment for you to spend personal time with God. The point is: Do what you can to greatly reduce and eliminate distractions.


Step #4: Pray!

“…when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray…”

This may seem obvious, but it requires intentionality. Once you find the right time to pray; once you identify the right location to pray; once you eliminate the distractions, PRAY! Don’t fall asleep. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t just sit there thinking. It’s time to PRAY!

What is prayer? Prayer is simply communicating with God. Spend time talking to God. Yes, He knows your thoughts, but He loves communication. Your spouse may know you love them, but it means a lot more to them when you say it. The same is true with God. He loves communication. And you don’t need to sound religious or unnatural in your prayer. You don’t need to pray with King James English or quote chapter and verse in the Bible. He wants you to be very natural and real with Him. In fact, you may not even know the Bible very well, but you do know what’s on your heart. Simply share with God the things that are on your heart and mind. Communicate with God as naturally as you would with your best friend. He’s that real. He’s that relational. He’s that personal. He’s that loving. And He wants to spend quality time with you.


Step #5: Receive From God

“…when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

When we walk out these steps to cultivate a very real and personal time of prayer with God, He will respond. He will speak to your heart. God will answer your prayer.

As you’re reading this–and before you go about the rest of your day–don’t miss your opportunity to begin walking out these five steps. It’s very simple and it all begins with the first two steps. Just take a moment right now (it doesn’t need to take long) and identify the right time and the right place to pray. It may be tonight. It may be tomorrow morning. It may be at home. It may be in your backyard. But identify the right time and the right place. Simply take a quick moment right now to find out when and where. Write it down. Remember it. And then make it happen. Show up. Eliminate distractions. Pray. And receive from God. It will completely change your life!