Hank Hanegraaff tells the story of trying to talk his children (as they began to outgrow their diapers) into leaving the kiddie pool and launching out into the deep. For them, the kiddie pool was all there was and all there ever would be. That is, of course, until they experienced the deep. Once they learned how to swim in the ocean they forever lost their appetite for shallow water.

Just as he led each one of his children into an experience with the vastness of the ocean, so Jesus led His disciples out of the shallow tide-pools of prayer into an ever-deepening relationship with their heavenly Father.

Let’s look at some practical guidelines for diving into the deep:

The first one is this: Make the paradigm shift. Stop seeing prayer as merely a means of obtaining your requests. Start seeing prayer as a means of enjoying the riches of a fellowship with God.

The second thing is that you ought to confess your sins daily and ask for forgiveness. Every single prayer will bounce right off the ceiling if there’s unforgiveness in your heart. This is precisely why Jesus ended His public sermon on prayer by saying, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you don’t forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Here’s another point: Get into the Bible and get the Bible into you. God’s will is revealed in His Word. The only way you can know His will is to know His Word. The more we meditate upon God’s Word, the clearer His voice will be as daily we commune with Him in prayer.

Discover your secret place: The secret to prayer is secret prayer. Your public presence is a direct reflection of your private prayer life. If you spend time in the secret place you will exude peace in the midst of life’s storms. If you do not, you’re going to be a poster child for “busy-anity” rather than for Christianity.

Make prayer a priority: Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Jesus said, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice (or applies them) is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” If you faithfully practice a new discipline for 21 days it may well stay with you for the rest of your life. So make prayer a priority. Don’t let the business of life crowd it out. Start building a habit.

What I’m suggesting is that you bite off a small chunk and get in the habit, and then involvement will produce commitment. After awhile, you will not be able to imagine a day without fellowship with Jesus Christ, and that fellowship will grow ever sweeter as you spend time communing with Him.

If you do not eat meals on a regular basis you are going to suffer the consequences. In the same sense, if you do not pray on a regular basis you will suffer spiritual consequences. It’s as simple as that. So get back to basics because that’s where the real experience is. A regular prayer practice means changing the way you think about prayer, knowing the Bible, applying what God is teaching you, and being deliberate about your time.