“Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation” (Andrew Murray).

This is the second of a six-part series identifying some areas most of us need to address as we begin the new year.

My first admonition was: don’t drag guilt and shame into 2016, but do bring grace and forgiveness (especially self-forgiveness).

My second admonition is: Don’t drag your old unbelief into 2016, but do enter into the new year with overcoming faith. Particularly as it relates to your prayer life.

Many of us are in the habit of shooting up short bullet prayers to God and then heading out the door for a busy day. I have nothing against short prayers, but they make for a pretty poor foundation for your spiritual life and growth. Try to incorporate longer periods of time (an hour?) into your prayer life as you’re able. God may even call you to regular intercessory prayer as your ministry.

Pray with faith daily, never giving up. Pray with persistence through the entire year. Persistence in prayer was a continuing theme of Jesus’s teaching.

As you pray in faith, also listen in faith. Prayer isn’t just us jabbering away, hoping God hears. Prayer is two-way communication. Listen as much as you pray.

Some hints on prayer:

1. Pray at a preset time every day. You’re less likely to skip prayer if you have an appointment with God.

2. Write down your prayer requests and record when they’re answered.

3. Find promises from God’s Word to validate your prayers. (See my book Power in the Promises).

4. Build your faith by reading great books on prayer. Books by E.M. Bounds, Stormie Omartian, Andrew Murray to name a few. Also consider Magnificent Prayer as your daily devotional for 2016.

5. Pray out loud. Just do it. No one hears but you and God.

As you pray, know that God is actively listening. He hears YOU. Too often we get up from our prayer sessions and are only vaguely aware that God was possibly paying attention. The truth is God wants us to pray and He wants to answer our prayers. Yes, God pays full attention to our every prayer. That alone should be the basis for rising up in faith as we pray.

Change your destiny in 2016 by making it a year girded in prayer.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:24 ESV).

Next time: Overcoming one of our biggest weaknesses.

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