Generally we have found by observation and questioning that individuals who pray tend to go through what we chose to call the life-cycle of prayer. The life-cycle of prayer basically is those key patterns that indicate that one is on a growth spurt in the place of prayer.
PRAYER BECOMES A DESIRE
The life-cycle of prayer always begins with a desire for prayer on the part of the individual. The individual finds either by coming in contact with someone whose prayer-life kindles a desire for more prayer in one. Whether you have actively engaged yourself in prayer or not the prayers you witness seems to provoke a deep desire in you. You find yourself thinking I wish I could pray like brother so and so or sister so and so. This desire is of the Lord and is answered by the Lord in the sense that you begin to delight yourself in the Lord in the normal Christian habits of reading the Bible, fellowshipping with other Christians and engaging in other Christian activities. Before you can say ‘Simba has grown’ you find that you have actually progressed from someone who wishes to pray to someone who can at least articulate some words in prayer. Your prayer life at this time may not be as effective as the individual or individuals that served as catalyst to stir up the desire for prayer in you. The goal of the prayer desire phase as a novice in prayer is to begin to flow in the life-cycle of prayer without being afraid.
PRAYER BECOMES A DISCIPLINE
As the days and months progress and you are exposed to more prayer practices either through your observing others or reading about prayer practices. These prayer practices range from the hour of prayer, all night prayer vigils, corporate prayers, concert of prayer, prayer walking, prayer of faith to mention a few. The desire for prayer leads you to embark on prayer activities in the privacy of your home where you are not likely to feel embarrassed. Sometimes you find that you pray for five minutes and then draw a blank. Do not let discouragement set in but rather recognize that where you are is the phase where prayer becomes a discipline. The more you pray the more you feel as though you are hitting a brick wall. It might even be that you have just prayed for a mere 5 minutes or 10 minutes. It is helpful when you get to this ‘mental blank phase’ in the life-cycle of prayer that you sing a song unto the lord or read a scripture. Feel free to write down the topics or names of people you want to pray for and let this be a guide or a tool for pacing yourself in the place of prayer. Resume again on another day or session that you set apart to give yourself to prayer. Pray again and take note of the time when you begin to pray and the time when you stop praying or feeling the manifest presence of God when you pray. The goal of the prayer discipline stage in the life-cycle of prayer is to keep praying till you feel a shift or begin to feel the tangible presence of the Lord with you as you pray.
The goal of the prayer discipline phase as a novice in prayer is to begin to pray on two levels. The first is to pray yourself into the presence of the Lord where you feel His presence and a sense of sprinting in prayers. The second goal is to be able to flow in prayer for an extended time compared to when you began at the desire phase. In other words you want to be able to pray in the manifest presence of God and you want to do so for at least 15 minutes or more.