Five Ways I Am Eliminating Perfunctory Prayer in My Life

I struggle with my prayer life.

I am inconsistent too much. And even when I am consistent with a prayer time, I find myself distracted often. 

One of the bigger struggles I’ve had with my prayer is perfunctory prayer. For me perfunctory prayer is a minimal effort to connect with God. At best, I am going through the motions. At worst, I tell someone I will pray for them, but I don’t.

Recently, I made five changes that have moved me toward a more robust prayer life. Yes, I still have a long way to go. Still, these five changes give me hope that my prayer life will be more meaningful and less perfunctory.

1. When I tell someone I will pray for them, I really pray for them. I am ashamed to think of the number of times I told someone I will pray for them, but I don’t follow through. I am lying to the person I promised, and I am lying to God. I’ve asked God to give me a greater awareness of this sin in my life, so I don’t repeat it.

2. I have stopped using “prayer” in my greetings and other incidental conversations. Here is what I mean. I’ve written emails where I say something like, “I pray your year is going well.” Sadly, I did not really pray for that person to have a great year. I used prayer as a figure of speech. Such words on my part minimize and trivialize prayer. 

3. When someone asks me to pray for them, I do so on the spot if possible. Instead of merely affirming I will pray for someone who requests prayer from me, I do so on the spot. Again, I am ashamed to think how many times I responded affirmatively to prayer requests but forgot about them. 

4. I use a prayer app. So that I truly remember to pray for people, I enter the prayer need on a prayer app. Now, when I have my prayer time, I am able to see those prayer requests one by one. I am also able to see all the answers to my prayers. There are several prayer apps available. I use Echo Prayer.

5. I will not talk about my prayer life to make me look more spiritual. My prayer life has a long way to go. If I hint in any way that I am some super saint with an unmatched prayer life, I am lying. I still struggle with prayer. I just want to struggle less.

For years I used the ACTS acronym to guide my prayer life: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. Several years ago, I moved confession to the beginning of my prayer time. It was my own conviction that I needed to confess my sins first before I could get into other areas of prayer. So now my order of prayer is confession, adoration, thanksgiving, intercession (for others), and supplication (for me). I admit, though, that CATIS is not a very memorable acronym.

I would love to hear from you about your prayer life. I learn so much when I listen to other believers to hear how God is working in their lives.


Posted on December 12, 2022

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • I love the article, and like you to have more about prayers and power struggle with people in ministry. I also like to get more information about the upcoming events.Thanks

  • James Ruberg says on

    I read a book titled, “The Audacious Molly Bruno,” by Marie Armenia. She was a powerful woman of prayer. The book describes how she didn’t have a “prayer life.” What she had was a “life of prayer.” Prayer wasn’t something she compartmentalized for a specific time during the day. She prayed throughout the day. I have learned much from this woman of prayer.

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