How To Pray

How To Pray

The best conversation happens when you are talking with someone you know, especially someone you love and respect.

When you pray to God, the One you know and are speaking with happens to have created you… and everything else. To put it mildly, that makes prayer a different sort of conversation. In fact, the more you learn about prayer, the more wonderful it becomes. You’ll never be afraid to do it. You’ll never reject it as meaningless talking to yourself.

You’ve picked up the Bible, which really is the first step in learning to pray.

The Bible is God’s communication to us about who he is, what he is doing, and what he wants. Here we learn what has been done to change our lives forever through Jesus Christ in God’s plan of salvation. To know God, hear and trust his book.

The more you know about God, the more you may become tongue-tied in his presence.

This is one big being, who created all things (Gen.1; Col. 3:10). Creation itself declares how wonderful he is (Ps. 19:1-6). His being fills the universe. You can’t get away from his presence (Ps. 139).

Since he’s always around, you ought to get to know how to talk to him.

But you should be motivated by more than the fact that God is handy. Prayer is where our life with God starts, where it is centered each day, and where God leads us into the future. It is also where we often derail our life with God because we think of prayer as a mysterious ritual, a department for complaints and making wishes, or a chore.

In prayer we can have different types of conversations.

A good place to start is by thinking about telling God something of how wonderful we think he is. We give praise to him and thank him for what he has done for others and for us. Adoration and praise are central to what Christians call worship. Prayer is a way to worship God. In prayer we also admit to God when we haven’t lived according to his standards. We confess that we have thought and acted sinfully, and ask for forgiveness.

What we normally consider to be prayers are those things we ask of God.

They are usually called petitions. The prayers quoted or written in the Bible are mostly petitions. God invites us to ask for things, and for those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. God promises to hear their prayers and answer them. God answers prayers according to his plan for history and his will. We don’t always get the answer we’d prefer. But even when his answer seems harsh, God promises that the Holy Spirit will help us with our prayers, and that his answer is always for the best. (Rom. 8).

Anyone who can think can pray.

In the Bible we see people praying out loud and silently, to themselves and in the presence of others. We read in Scripture of people falling on their face, kneeling, lying in bed, standing, bowing their head, and lifting their head and arms toward heaven. At one time or another, you might feel like doing some of those things when you pray, but no physical position in prayer is required. God wants us to come to him throughout the day, whatever we are doing at the time.

So let’s take apart a definition of prayer and see if it helps us to do it:

In prayer we meet God, sharing thoughts about life, about him, and about ourselves. We can pray because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

In Prayer We Meet God

Most simply, prayer is sharing with someone you are close to. Is that possible with God? The One to whom we speak in prayer created and governs the universe. He has complete knowledge of us. But part of his greatness is that he can associate with people. He is involved in our world and wants to interact with us. He is present when we lay ourselves open to him in complete transparency, faith, and love.

The act of praying assumes that we are communicating with someone. While God may answer the cry of a seeker, you can’t talk to someone you don’t believe in (see Heb. 11:5-7). We have access to the God who truly exists through Jesus Christ (John 14:12-14; Rom. 8:34). Faith in Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of sinful people is vital to true prayer.

That doesn’t mean you can’t come to God if you are angry at him. Your grief and anger and doubt may be great (see Psalm 13). You are allowed to come to God with all your feelings. In the end, you may never learn why something happened, but healing will come more surely if you can leave it with God in prayer.

In Prayer We Share Thoughts

You might think that to pray you need to empty out all the earthly thoughts you have so you can focus just on God. But God doesn’t want to speak to an empty mind. Even if your thoughts are messy, prayer is about having something to say. If you don’t know what to say, then tell God about your confusion and distraction.

We Come to God in Prayer through Jesus Christ

The Bible teaches that to have a growing relationship with God that satisfies him, we must come to him through Jesus Christ (Ps. 95; John 4:23-24; Rom. 12:1-2). Why is belief in Christ essential? Our state of sinfulness as human beings and our personal sins took away our right to approach God in worship. That’s why we must come in prayer to God through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He can deal with our unworthiness. He stands in the gap between the believer and God.

The Holy Spirit Helps Us Pray

As Romans 8 says, we have help in prayer: the Holy Spirit, God’s spiritual presence in Christians. It is the Spirit through whom we can call out “Father!” to God. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit helps us by interceding for us. Why pray? An important reason is that we can pray. We have been given the opportunity and the privilege to speak directly with our God. In addition, if you are one of God’s children in Jesus Christ, you have a responsibility to pray. It is God’s will. And as it is practiced according to these principles, it can become one of the chief delights of life.