How to Develop a Meaningful Prayer Life

By Edel Gunnink

I am all about smells. An amazing smell can quickly take me to my happy place. When I’m driving down the road and the savory aroma from the large bakery in our town waffles through my car, I immediately take a deep breath in and smile. Or the smell of cotton blossoms coming from the wax warmer constantly filling the air in our home. It brings so much peace to my heart. And the best may be the smell of fragrant lavender as I rub lotion on my youngest son after his bath. Oh, the joys of a sweet-smelling baby. I am completely mesmerized by smells.

If these wonderful earthly smells thrill me so much, I can hardly imagine what the aroma of my prayers mean to God. Revelation 5:8 says: …the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

The Bible tells us our prayers are incense – a powerful, beautiful fragrance rising before the throne of God. It is impossible for us to really grasp, but I picture the heavens filled with the most magnificent aroma, one that pleases the heart of God.

My thoughts linger on that very sweet smell of incense God must be enjoying until the thought of my own prayers bring me back to a sad reality. Am I offering up to God prayers that will be a sweet aroma – that will stir His heart? Or are my prayers more about what is not going right for me, about what God needs to do for me, or what I want Him to do for someone in my life?

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How about you? How is your prayer life? A sweet aroma before the throne of God? Or a list of wants every so often?

Chip Ingram tells us in his Nehemiah-based series, Holy Ambition, that God wants us to come to Him in prayer with a broken spirit, one that is about humble worship and a deep desire to know the heart of God. Chip explains that a broken spirit comes from a high view of God and an accurate view of ourselves. God does not want us to see prayer as a way to make life easier or to get what we want from Him.

Chip reminds us that God wants to do a deep, significant work IN us before He can do a work THROUGH us. Nehemiah spent months in prayer before his heart was moved to fulfill the plans God had for him. God wants to use prayer to first transform our hearts, and then to develop a boldness in us for carrying out His plans.

How do we develop that kind of meaningful prayer life with God?

A great place to begin is writing down your prayers each day for a month. Use the acronym ACTS to get started. In your prayer time, spend time Adoring God for who He is, then Confessing and repenting from sin that may be hindering your walk with God. Next move to a time of Thanksgiving, thanking God for all you see Him doing, and finally, Supplication, letting God know what burdens your heart – asking for His will to be done in the situation.

Take this 30-day challenge and practice the ACTS prayer method daily. Let your prayers be a sweet aroma before God’s throne.

Your prayer life will be renewed, you will experience a deeper love for your Heavenly Father, and your broken spirit will enable Him to begin fulfilling a Holy Ambition through you.

Written By

Edel Gunnink

Edel is a busy mom of five very active kids, wife to one very adventurous husband, and caretaker of one very spoiled dog. When she is not homeschooling her kids or accomplishing the many drives on her carpool app, she enjoys workout classes, long walks, a good book, dinner out with friends, and lots of traveling. She and her family have ventured to 31 states in their RV with plans to visit all 50 states and recently they experienced an amazing family trip to Italy. Before writing for Living on the Edge, Edel enjoyed her position as a public school teacher and then principal of a Christian school. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Boston University and completed her Masters of Education at Harvard University.

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