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Three Ways to Keep the Fires of Your Prayer Life Burning

Let’s face it, we usually prefer the easy way. As a result, we often struggle to stay motivated after the adrenaline of a new commitment starts to wear off. Everyone knows how sincere we feel when we make a New Year’s resolution but we’re not good at keeping them. According to a new survey from Forbes the majority of us abandon our resolutions.

“In fact, failing at New Year’s resolutions is so common that there’s even a slew of (unofficial) dates commemorating such failures—some sources cite ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’ as January 17 while others denote the second Friday in January as ‘Quitter’s Day’”. We can’t even make it a month!

The problem of a lack of motivation in our culture also manifests itself in an unmotivated workforce. The problem has become so pervasive that some observers have become unusually harsh in their criticism. For instance, according to a former senior editor at USA Today, our nation has largely become, “one of the world’s laziest countries and it’s making us fat” (The U.S. is one of the world’s laziest countries — and it’s making us fat). There’s nothing positive about that brutal assessment of our culture. Of course, it’s not true that everyone is unmotivated but numerous business articles are being written about the problem, which naturally spiked during the pandemic (How to Stay Motivated When You’re (Still) Stuck at Home). 

In one way the concept of motivation is new, only popularized in the 20th century to describe how people decide to fulfill their own desires. While it is true that our older dictionaries don’t contain the word motivation, even Scripture describes people who lost their motivation to keep going. Jonah sat under a tree and wished for death (Jonah 4:8). Elijah too wandered into an isolated desert cave with no interest in life (1 Kings 19:4). When it comes to everything from resolutions about dieting, to saving more money, to spiritual disciplines we just don’t know how to stay self motivated. 

Apparently, the widespread problem of a lack of motivation affects our spiritual commitments too. For instance, when Lifeway asked pastors about the biggest challenges they face, 72% of them said their number one struggle is with the consistency of their personal spiritual life (Pastors Identify 7 Spiritual Needs for Their Life, Ministry – Lifeway Research). Most of us want to keep the fires of motivation burning in our prayer lives, so how can we do it? Here are a few practical ways to fan the flames. 


Jesus permanently linked the Word and prayer together when He promised, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”(John 15:7). The more the Scripture settles into our lives the more power we will have in prayer. It’s a sad truth that so many people claim to pray while so few read Scripture on a regular basis. In fact, only about a third of Americans read the Bible daily.

As a result of this lopsided deficiency in spiritual devotion- with so many praying without reading Scripture- we can only imagine how anemic much of our praying really is. Alexander Maclarin reminded us, “The appetite grows on what feeds it.” The more you read God’s Word, the more you’ll want to read. Every time you dedicate time for personal prayer, spend some of your time reading the Bible.  We have the assurance that reading the Bible builds our faith (Romans 10:17). That increased faith will, in turn, fuel the intensity of your prayers.


Americans are now reading less than in previous years, even as we have more ways to read, including e-books and audio books. An old American adage chides us for not reading more. It says, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” One of the most enjoyable and empowering disciplines to keep the fire of motivation roaring is to read books on prayer. 

When we read the devotional insights of other men and women of prayer, we get a glimpse of what’s still lacking in our knowledge of God, and what’s still possible for our growth. I can testify to the fact that, as a college student in the 1970s, my spiritual life took a giant leap forward when someone loaned me a copy of Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill. I remember how I was spiritually wrecked when I read Power through Prayer by E. M. Bounds, and The Hour that Changes the World by Dick Eastman. I cannot remember a time in the last 45 years when I have not been reading or rereading a book on prayer. Those books incentivize me to pray and they keep the fires of motivation scorching hot.


Jesus recognizes the value of praying with others and even gave us a promise regarding prayer partners. He said, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). When, in Gethsemane, as He was facing the inevitability of the cross, He pleaded with His closest friends to join Him in prayer (Matthew 26:38-41). 

There is a power in accountability. The New Testament, for instance,  describes two “rooms” for prayer. Jesus spoke of an “inner room” for personal, private prayer (Matthew 6:6). The book of Acts teaches us about the “upper room”where we gather with others for prayer (Acts 1:14). In fact, there are numerous examples of prayer in the book of Acts, but only a couple of those examples show us someone praying alone. The Acts model of prayer, therefore, is the prayer meeting- even if only two people are praying (Acts 16:25). 

In order to keep the fire of our commitment to prayer burning hot, we have to take personal responsibility for our success or failure in this crucial area of our own discipleship and sanctification. It’s true no one can make you pray but, fortunately, no one can stop you from praying. You get to decide. Now, what will you do?

    About the Author

  • Kie Bowman

    Kie Bowman is senior pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas and the SBC National Director of Prayer.

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