The most effective thing we can do is to pray – not the last resort! It doesn’t have to be long. As I was tuning into God this morning, I sensed the Holy Spirit was saying, ‘It’s not the length of prayer, but it’s the faith behind this that is vital.’ So developing our faith is very important. Which is why we are urged to read the Bible as often as we can for “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (see Romans 10:17)
Jesus himself didn’t pray long prayers (although at times he did while in the hills or in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was facing his own death – but even then it seems he was to the point!) e.g when on a boat with his disciples when a storm came, he was asleep. However, after being woken up by his panicky friends (and who wouldn’t panic with wind and water coming over the boat) he simply spoke to the wind and waves and said, “Peace! Be still.” That was sufficient for the wind and waves to stop causing trouble and do what Jesus asked.
I, personally, think that when we get to heaven (only by God’s grace and merit – not anything that we do) we will be sorry we didn’t pray more. So often we expect God to move in a certain way but He has ways of answering our arrow prayers in His own unique way, e.g a nobleman came to Jesus (see John 4) as his son was dying back at his home. The man expected Jesus to come to where his boy was ill but instead Jesus said, “Go. Your son will live” and at that precise time the boy was healed at a huge distance from where the father and Jesus were.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says ‘Pray without ceasing”. We can pray anywhere, anytime about anything whether big matters we see and hear on the news or tiny things that only me and God know about. He answers our heart’s cry and our simple words. Children can grasp this idea really well. ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books actually gives children a hunger to want to know God for themselves so that they can simply pray and see God answer. Then their joy can be full as can be ours!