1. They're Persistent
This one is easily carried over to prayer. Jesus Himself was the one who taught concerning prayer, that persistence is a key rule (Luke 11:9, Luke 18:1-8). To pray and keep on praying is a trait of those who would grow in the life of prayer.
2. They Set Attainable Goals
Sure, we all feel the conviction of singing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" but we struggle to do so. Sometimes we reach too far. If you have not established a regular discipline of prayer, starting with an hour may be a reach. Set attainable goals to reach that hour mark. Start with 10 minutes. But once you reach the hour, what will your next goal be?
But I think there is another application of this principle. I believe a factor in growing in prayer is praying for measurable things. How many of our prayers fall under the umbrella of "Lord, bless Grandma"? When you can you mark that prayer as having been answered? What is more discouraging than a never ending prayer list? Part of the problem is we are not specific in our requests - they are not measurable. The results are not "attainable."
3. They Find a Career Mentor
Who is teaching you how to pray? This is what the disciples asked Jesus to do for them (Luke 11). Who is teaching you how to pray? I can remember when I was a teenager and a new believer spending hours with my youth pastor, Joe. We prayed. I learned so much from those hours spent - sometimes a small group of us huddled in the back of a van in the park - just praying together. Since then, I have been trying to maintain someone in my life who would teach me to go deeper in prayer.
4. They Are Positive
Does this mean we never have "rough prayers"? I mean, the Psalms are filled with prayers of lament and complaint. Yet one thing you will see over and over in these psalms is that the writers end in praise and trust in God. Do you pray in faith? I am not talking about "name it and claim it." What I am talking about is a subtle pitfall of praying. Namely, that regardless of what we pray, what we are actually saying to God is, "This is what I am asking, but I doubt you will do anything about it." Our prayer lives end up being nothing more than a time of complaining which end in our continued discouragement.
5. They Educate Themselves
Do you read books on prayer, about prayer, and great men and women of prayer? To date, I have read nearly 100 books on the topic of prayer but many biographies about men of prayer. And I have a long list of books waiting to be read. I want this to be a life-long education on prayer as I read books from a variety of backgrounds and theological camps. You may not have the time or desire to read quite that intensely, but there are some basics that would be a marvelous help to you. Anything by or about George Mueller. Leonard Ravenhill and E.M. Bounds are powerful voices on prayer, especially to pastors. A.W. Tozer is a great voice calling us to seek after God. Some of the links on this site are also intended to direct you to ministries like Harvest Prayer Ministries which have abundant resources to help and encourage you in prayer.
6. They Track Their Progress
If you want to lose weight, you may count calories. If you exercise, you track your progress - how much did you lift, how many reps, how many miles on the treadmill, etc. There is a saying in business that what gets measured gets done. For years, I have tracked my spiritual disciplines. This may sound legalistic, and it can be tempting to fall into that trap. But I have found that if I track my prayer time and my Bible reading I am more consistent and have grown more than when I don't. It's kind of like trying to lose weight without counting calories. This is just my pattern. A more widely embraced discipline, which I also embrace, is journaling.
7. They Surround Themselves With Success-Oriented People
What does this look like in prayer? Easy - surround yourself with people with a passion for prayer. Don't shy away from prayer meetings! Or, if the one at your church is boring, find a few friends with a passion for prayer and start your own. This will keep you sharp and keep the prayer-fires burning. And don't be afraid to not be the most spiritual person in the room. Be willing to be in a group where you are the least sophisticated in your prayers. Pray out loud in groups!