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One of the questions I am asked a lot by young people is “How do I pray, and how can I pray for longer periods at a time?” It’s a great question that I have seen many, even mature Christians, struggle with. 

As I study more and as I age, I am experiencing that contemplation and praying the way that Jesus taught us in the bible is a great combination! 

Prayer can be hard. Especially trying to pray for an hour or more…. I have found a way that has helped me in my daily-prayer life, and I believe it may help you. It relates to my experience in sales. I learned some things as a young salesman that also applied to my prayer life.

Between the ages of 16 and 20, I worked my way through college with some professional haberdashers who taught me the science of sales. We sold $5,000 custom suits, shoes that ranged from $90 to over $1,000 and women’s designer clothes that were overpriced.

As we gathered at 7:00 a.m. each day to role play and sharpen our salesmanship, our objective was to convince people who made just a few thousand a month to invest their hard-earned money into their wardrobe. Our sales pitch went something like this: “When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re much more effective. When you are effective, you make more money. This suit is not only going to save you money, it will make you money!”  

Our owner would walk through the door at 7:30 a.m. sharp, ready to play the role of a customer. As sales professionals, our role was to not only serve him well, but also guide him toward the conclusion that he needed these clothes, even though he didn’t realize it yet. We had to understand what mattered to him in order to effectively sell him on exactly what he didn’t know he needed.

As I said, we had this sales technique down to a science:

  1. Create the need: through our window displays, daily phone calls and even how we dressed and presented ourselves, we were always ‘creating a need’ for what we were selling.

  2. Define the need: ask the right questions to steer them toward a purchase. NEVER ask a yes/no question. Actually, if we were ever caught asking, “Can I help you today?” every employee within hearing range would yell, “NO!” and we would have to walk a city block for discipline! The proper question, particularly when the customer would say, “I am only looking,” was always, “Are you looking for casual or dress today?”

  3. Satisfy the need: use benefit-related phrases like “save money,” “save time” or “make money.” Use descriptive words that convey the positive outcomes associated with the need, such as prestige, power, look good, feel good, effective and confident.

  4. Close: after you’ve created, defined and satisfied the need, it’s time to close the deal: “Let me grab one of my seamstresses to mark your pants and coat.” If the customer hesitates at all, you simply go back to the “need” and define it further. Of course, the end goal is to always guide the customer back toward closing the deal. You can remember this through the acronym ABC – Always Be Closing!

I found that even with all of my sales training over the years and being certified through programs taught by Dale Carnegie, Tom Hopkins and Zig Ziglar, my morning role-playing at this store taught me more about the science of sales than anything else. I also quickly learned that the science of sales is useful in nearly every arena of life: as a single guy trying to get a date (more on that another time!) or convincing my parents to buy a car, horse or really whatever else. These techniques are even useful in preparing my messages when I preach or teach. Later on, I came to strategically disciple my sales teams in the very same process.

And now in my 50’s and finally free of the need to be successful, wealthy, seen or even right by worldly standards, I simply apply this science to my daily prayer life.

Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. This straightforward prayer model is called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Now, let’s look at this prayer through the science of sales lens:

  1. Create the need: we create the need by worshiping Him. “Hallowed be Your name.”

  2. Define the need: define the need by bringing heaven to earth, laying your needs at the cross and being a person of forgiveness. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us and make us a people that are always first to forgive.”

  3. Satisfy the need: satisfy the need by breaking temptation in your life and getting rid of the enemy. “And, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  4. Close: to close, remember that your life, needs, concerns and everything in this earth rest within the power of a God who intimately knows you and loves you forever: “Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

You have the power to directly access the heart of God. Even more amazing, you don’t have to sell Him on His need to love you or hear you! Jesus already purchased your life and your freedom with His precious blood. All you have to remember is that you need Him and that you have the ability to lay your worries at His feet, knowing that He loves you. You can break sin off your life and trust that everything you are and everything you need rest in the Lord’s capable hands.

And so:

  • In my confident ability to create a need in your heart to pray more,

  • By my defining of the power you will find in daily worship, calling down heaven, meeting your daily needs and becoming a person of forgiveness,

  • By satisfying your need to break sin in your life and going to war against the enemy,

I will simply close by asking you this:

Would you prefer this short version of the Lord’s Prayer or an 18-page outline of scripture, the names of God and how to pray the Lord’s Prayer every day?