For many, a prayer closet is a beautiful refuge from the world and a sanctuary to grow closer with our heavenly Father. Here are some useful tips for making the most out of your private prayer space.
#1 Deliberately create a dedicated space in which to pray.
In a culture where every item is meant to maximize our use of space or have multiple functions, it’s wise to set aside one area for prayer and devotion and use it only for this express purpose. Whether it’s part of an open closet, a special room in your house, or simply a chair and table in the corner, mark off a place and save it only for your times of prayer. This can help you guide your thoughts and emotions whenever you enter the space, setting it apart as holy.
#2 Keep a Bible and/or devotional in there at all times.
Our prayers should always be centered on the Word of God. Consider pairing your times of prayer with a brief reading from Scripture, or by following a treasured devotional. Use this as a way to begin your prayer time, and to prepare your heart for connecting with the heart of God.
#3 Keep names or photos of those that you pray for.
If God has burdened your heart with someone to pray for, keep their name handy when you go into your prayer space. If you have a photograph available, use that as well. They can serve as powerful reminders that we should bring our concerns to the foot of the cross, and to be specific about whom we pray for.
#4 Begin in silence.
This is one of the most difficult steps to master, but it is absolutely vital that we approach God’s throne with a quiet and submissive heart. Scripture is full of stories about God meeting His faithful children in stillness and silence.
Turn off your electronic devices, turn off the music (yes, even worship music for a time) and take a few moments by sitting in willful silence. Ask God to move as He wishes, then give Him space and time to do so.
#5 Pray through the Bible.
The Bible itself can be used as a guide for our prayers. This is a beautiful way to recite Scripture as the cry of our hearts, and can also be used to help us memorize Scripture to recall later.
An easy way to do this is to start in the book of Psalms. Choose a short psalm with only a few verses, then use the words of Scripture as a guide for your prayers and petitions.
Recite a verse aloud, then pray aloud how God has fulfilled the written Word in your life, or how you cling to the promises the Word teaches.
#6 Consider using a book of liturgical prayers.
There is great beauty in using a church liturgy. This is typically a printed and assembled collection of prayers, devotions, and blessings that are associated with a given denomination.
Personal, heartfelt prayer is important – we should be open and honest with God about the desires of our hearts. However, using a liturgy allows you to connect with other believers in special ways. Praying words that have been used across the centuries helps you to lift your heart with the worldwide church in a single voice of petition, confession, thanksgiving, and praise to the Father.
Collections like the Book of Common Prayer have daily devotions for all times of day, special holidays, prayers for various seasons of the year and for special occasions, and other guides to help you grow closer to God through liturgical prayer.
#7 Keep a journal in your prayer closet.
Some may find a prayer diary or journal helpful as they pray over time. Keep a pen and paper handy to jot down what you prayed for on a given day, mark what God brought to your mind as you prayed, record special requests that you prayed for on behalf of others, and celebrate when you saw a tangible answer to your prayers or the prayers of your loved ones.
Writing down your prayers can help reinforce the habit of praying regularly, and can provide a roadmap to show you how God has moved in your life over time. It is also a great way to celebrate and be thankful for times and ways that God has moved visibly in your life, and can be the proof that God does hear you when you pray.
#8 Post verses that speak to you, and feel free to change them out over time.
You can decorate your prayer closet space with artwork or other visual cues that can bring you closer to God. Or, simply print out a few verses that help you focus on Him, and post them on the walls.
Such additions can also change over time. For example, if you have a particular burden on your heart for a season in your life, you can use verses or decorations that help you focus on those desires. Then, when you have different goals for your prayers, or when God has revealed something new to your heart, feel free to swap them out and use different verses.
God is unchanging, but His will can bring about delightful changes in our lives if we are willing to move when and where He moves us.
#9 Invite your loved ones (occasionally).
Your prayer closet should be a sacred space for you, but occasionally it can be good to invite others into your space. This can mean bringing your spouse or your children to pray with you for a special need, or inviting a close friend to pray with you about the salvation of someone you know.
We are commanded to pray individually, but also to pray together. This can provide an effective witness for other believers, and remind you that you are not alone in seeking out the will of God.
#10 Experiment with different postures in prayer.
There are many appropriate physical postures for prayer. Try standing or sitting when praying, or take Scripture literally and come to God on your knees. Even lying prostrate with your face to the ground can be an effective means of focusing your mind and heart on God as you pray.
No physical movement or posture will by itself bring us closer to God, but be open to using these different modes of prayer during your quiet time.
#11 Be as consistent as possible.
This is another difficult aspect of everyone’s prayer life. Even setting aside time to read the Bible every day can be easier than devoting time to prayer, but it is vital that we do so. Prayer is how we commune with God and take in His power and strength. Prayer allows us to face the challenges of the day, and to seek His will for our lives when opportunities and circumstances come our way.
Be faithful in prayer throughout the day, but especially as you set aside time in your prayer closet.
Personal prayer happens most effectively when we shut out the world and seek God first; use these tips and techniques to build a prayer closet worthy of the God you pray to.
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Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.