How to Solve the Perpetual Problem of Prayer Boredom

by Jacob Abshire on November 29, 2023

Charles Spurgeon captured the heart of the Christian life when he said, “Run not to man; go only to your God.” He was talking about prayer—an expression of dependence on God. It is casting ourselves on Him as a child would on his father. “We received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15).

Prayer is the first step in coming to Christ in repentance and faith. It is also every step of the way after. It is an essential part of the Christian life. Spurgeon also said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” We can’t live without prayer anymore than we can live without breath. Furthermore, it is a natural part of living. Our body must inhale and exhale. You don’t have to remind yourself to breathe. You just do it. Breathing is essential to living. So it is with praying. J.C. Ryle agreed:

“Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.”

Prayer is essential. We simply cannot live without it. And yet, we try. Don’t we? We can go long periods without prayer. Or, so we think. In doing so, we deprive our spiritual bodies of the natural breath it needs. Prayer is a channel through which we receive God’s power. So, a prayerless life is a powerless life. Imagine your body without the energy and power to move and live. This is how your spiritual body looks when you deprive it of its much-needed power through prayer.

Scripture repeatedly emphasizes this. Put simply, we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Samuel, the prophet of God, said that prayerlessness is sin (1 Sam. 12:23). In fact, prayer is a wartime declaration against sin and can be used as a weapon against sin. Lehman Straus says, “No one can both sin and pray. True prayer will prevent us from sinning, or sin will prevent us from praying.”

Prayer is a big deal. It combats anxiety, promotes love, comforts hurts, heals wounds, ignites courage, infuses grace, and so much more. It is a wonder why so many Christians neglect such a generous gift. Maybe it is because we fail to value it as we ought, or perhaps we are simply bored.

This is an entry from my journal in early 2018 expressing a turning point in prayer life:

Prayer—that is what occupies my mind as of late. Not because I am praying so much, but because I am praying so little. Therefore, prayer is my focus during this season of life. I do not pray enough. And, when I pray, it is not enough. It lacks power. It lacks precision. Maybe it is because it lacks priority. Deep down, I simply don’t value prayer as I ought.

Despite its value, I have always struggled with prayer. It has been a weakness of mine. I get it when Paul refers to prayer as “striving” (Rom. 15:30) and “laboring earnestly” (Col. 4:12). It is that and more. The enemy of God doesn’t want you to breathe spiritually. He wants you to grow tired and weak and feeble. He wants you to die and waste away. He wants to shipwreck your faith. He does it by robbing you of the interest in prayer.

I want to strengthen your prayer life—maybe even resurrect it from the dead. I want to provide a practical perspective on how you can solve one of the most pervading problems of prayer today.


It’s very simple. Pray the Bible. This is an old practice treasured by Christians for as long as possible. The Lord wants to enjoy fellowship with you, and He has made it simple to do with a sense of freshness each time. Let’s look at how it’s done. Then, I’ll suggest a way to get started.

How to Pray the Bible

Consider a passage to pray. For example, let’s look at Psalm 23. The first phrase of the first verse reads like this: “The Lord is my shepherd.” Read it slowly enough to take in the words and allow the words to prompt your prayer.

For instance, maybe you see the word “shepherd” and think of your pastor. So you pray like this:

“Lord, thank you for giving us such a committed and gifted pastor. He has given up so much for my sake. He suffers for my good. Bless him in his body. Help him to pastor well. Bless his thought life and draw it into a deeper understanding of your Word so that he might more effectively model it to us and lead us into righteousness. Bless his family. Bless them financially so that they are not distracted by the cares of this world. Help him to be strong during suffering and temptation. Help him to be fervent in prayer and courageous in proclamation.”

After praying for your pastor, maybe your thoughts change how you support your pastor. So you pray this way:

“God, I hope that I am not a thorn in his side. Help me to be faithful to you so that in doing so it will bring him joy. I want my pastor to do well and he will do better when I obey you and submit to him. Grant me a godly attitude toward the church and refresh him when I do.”

The word “shepherd” can prompt so many things. If you are a father, you might think of yourself as the pastor or shepherd of your children. Or, you might think about God, who is the shepherd of the church—as the text conveys.

You could read the phrase again. This time, the definite article “the” stood out to you. You acknowledge that the divine Shepherd is not “a” shepherd but “the” shepherd. There is none like Him. He alone is the Shepherd. So your prayer moves into praying the attributes of God’s holy nature.

This may sound funny, but maybe you hear Emperor Palpantine from Star Wars saying “Lord Vader” when you read the word “Lord” in the Psalm. So you pray for the cast and crew of Star Wars. I mean, they need prayer too. Pray for their salvation. Pray that God moves their hearts to what matters. Philippians 4:6 says, “In everything … let your requests be made known to God.” 

Yes. Everything.

And frankly, this is pretty easy to do. Our minds are always busy thinking. No one can think about anything. It is impossible. So, when you read the Bible, slow down and let God’s language prompt your thoughts and imaginations. Turn everything to God.

When you run out of things to pray, move on. When nothing to pray about comes to mind from a text, move on. There are no rules to this. You will not be penalized for not praying a word or a verse. Read and let your thoughts go heavenward and see what the Lord does.

Side Note: I recognize that this may seem fishy to some. Initially, I objected to this method, thinking it was mishandling Scripture. We don’t want to mishandle Scripture. But, this is not what the method advocates. Praying the Bible this way is not a method of interpreting the Bible. It is a method of praying that the language of the Bible prompts. Case closed.

Steps to Get Started

With that said, I want to give you practical steps to get you started. These are by no means the only way nor the best ways, but they give you some initial ideas on how to get going, which is the key—getting started.

First, start with Psalms. They were written to be expressed back to God in song, but prayer is not all that different. Start with the first chapter and the first verse. Or, if you have a favorite psalm, start there. Either way, this is a good starting point.

Second, skim the Psalms. This step is optional. I mention this in case you have already begun to pray the Bible and need some help drawing your heart into the moment. Sometimes, we traverse tough times and need the words to pray that will accommodate our hearts. The book of Psalms contains various themes to correspond with the circumstances of your life. By skimming through a psalm, you can quickly see how it will serve you in your prayer. If you need to choose a different psalm, move on, but land on one quickly so that the time doesn’t escape you.

Third, read the Psalm. Most psalms are short enough to read within a minute or two. You want to do this to get a sense of the psalm. It will reinforce your prayer as you walk through each word individually. You are not reading to study the psalm but merely to understand the flow. In fact, if a particular verse in the psalm latches on to your attention, then start praying that verse.

Fourth, pray the Psalm. In most cases, you will start at the beginning. But let me add this—you should start where your heart is being drawn. Say the first word and pause to pray whatever comes to your mind. If nothing, continue to the next word and move on to the next as needed. Of course, take a phrase or a verse if that helps.

Fifth, write your prayer. This is unnecessary, but some will find writing your prayers while you speak them helpful. Not only will it help you focus your attention on the prayer, it will also give you something to reflect upon later in your life, even if it is just a few days. Many find that their prayers reveal something about God, or even themselves, that they need to be reminded of, and a journal will help with that.

Sixth, plan your prayer. It is helpful to tease up the next prayer for tomorrow. It might be the next chapter or a completely different book of the Bible. But having a plan will help you save time the next day. You can read through it quickly to get your mind to meditate on it throughout the day, or you can simply make a note in your journal so there is less time needed to prepare the next day.

Seventh, shuffle the psalms. The psalms are grouped into five books according to particular themes, times, and authors. It is not an equal division, but it allows flexibility when variety is needed. There are 150 psalms total, which allows you five different psalms to choose from each day of the month. So, if the psalm before you is not helpful, add 30 to the day of the month and try that psalm. (Example: If it is the 22nd, skip to 52 or 82 or 112, or 142.) This will give you a variety of themes while maintaining a daily routine.

Some Final Thoughts

Once you have developed a rhythm and find yourself ready to embark outside the Psalms, you can go to virtually any book of the Bible. Although this technique works best with the Psalms, all of Scripture will help you pray even if you must consider larger text pieces to make it work. (Consider my Thanksgiving Prompts from 2 John for ideas.)

Alternatively, you might want to pray through the sermon text of the previous and upcoming sermons that your pastor is preaching. In addition to fueling your prayer time, this will prepare you for and enhance your time in corporate worship.

Now, the only thing to do is pray. What’s keeping you?

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