LEARN HOW TO PRAY: ACCORDING TO GOD’S WORD
There you are, a picture perfect visual of what prayer is. You’re set on your knees upright and proper. Freshly washed hands folded with your fingers intertwined together, eyes closed tight. Near identical to the framed pictures you’ve seen in the stores on sale for $15.99. Granted, it’s only been a few minutes but still, all the details are in place. Surely the words should start flowing out like a babbling brook, sweet and effortless. All things considered, how to pray evades you.
In short, prayer is the avenue in which we communicate with God. Couple that with consistent reading of God’s word and you’ve got an amazing two-way conversation going on. Generally speaking, the idea of prayer is misleading. Pictures paint praying detailing aesthetics; meanwhile, the words to say remain a mystery.
Truth is, when you learn how to pray, you’ll be blessed.
WHAT IS A PRAYER FOR
To begin, the goal isn’t to come to the Lord with a list of ‘can I haves’. Prayer isn’t a wish list by any means. Rather, prayer is an open avenue to boldly approach the throne of grace and hold a conversation with God. And, although we’re undeserving, we can also receive help in time of need.
Obviously, prayerful conversation doesn’t always happen in real time. We speak and then wait. Fortunately,that fact doesn’t mean it’s any less effective or important.
In any case, the conversation may be slower for any number of reasons. God speaks in his time. The wait could be days, weeks, even years. Truth be told, people don’t often receive an answer because they forget to listen.
Overall, the function of prayer is to stay connected with Jesus.
Don’t worry, if you’re not sure what that entails you will soon. Besides, many folks feel very uncomfortable with this or aren’t sure if their doing it wrong. Those thoughts are all normal and understandable.
The good news is, Jesus gave us an outline for how to pray and it will bring freedom to your prayer life.
Stay tuned to learn how to pray: according to God’s word
BASICS OF PRAYING
Take a deep breath and let it go slowly. Relax; imagine you’re talking to a friend. To make it simple, an illustration I like to use is having a friend over while I’m busy moving around the kitchen. Given that the kitchen sink is one of the most popular places I pray, it fits well.
Anyhoo, even though I’m faced towards the wall or maybe a window for you, (even better), I know my friend is still present. They can hear me speaking and I could hear them too if they piped in. The point of this is to say, God is there. You may not see him but he’s there regardless.
Start speaking in a normal voice. You can close your eyes, kneel, stand, lie down or sit in a chair. No matter the position, let your guard down and speak to a friend. The more you practice how to pray, the more comfortable you’ll become.
Now, let’s talk about what to say.
HOW TO PRAY THE RIGHT WAY
Real quick, there’s no “right way” to pray. Prayer is such an intimate and personal act there isn’t a final stamp. Use this framework to get started and trust in the Lord to help you find your way.
With that said, let get started.
Jesus gives us an outline on how to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13 in the Lord’s Prayer. He says…
09a After this manner, therefore pray ye:
09b Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13a And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
13b For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Altogether, this scripture provides an amazing framework of how to pray.
Prior to that though Jesus makes a statement that is either confusing or revealing. I believe it’s the key. In verse 7 Jesus says…
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7
As is, that statement means don’t repeat the following prayer over and over in vain repetition thinking your many words are reaping reward.
How can we pray the Lord’s Prayer and it not end up vain repetition?
In essence, repeating the same 6 lines for the rest of your Christian life (which could be 60+ years for some) is contradictory to the scriptures.
Going back to the beginning, basic prayer foundation is relational conversation. For this reason, there’s another option.
Simply put, Jesus is giving us the points to note in our prayer. And, made it quite easy if we follow what He says.
HOW TO PRAY USING GOD’S FRAMEWORK
In verse 9 Jesus says,
“OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME.”
During the opening of prayer, you’re addressing the Lord God. Honor and glory of God should be first in order. In particular, live praise and worship out as spoken words.
In other words, it could be something like this: Thank you God for your majesty. Thank you for the God that you are and who you are. Bless your name Father. You’re worthy to be praised Lord and I thank you for hearing me. Lord, you’re mighty and I praise you.
God says, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Equally important, Jesus say to love thy Lord God with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let your heart speak words of praises toward Him.
The reality of it is, words of praise are indicative of a life following after the righteousness of the Lord through faith in Jesus. Praise and worship Him first when you go to Him in prayer. The preceding praise is an outward show of understanding the privilege God has offered.
Since prayer is a line of communication between you and Him, there’s no one to boast to. You’re best to be earnest and real. In the same manner, address God by sanctifying His Holy name. Set Him apart from any other, and acknowledge He’s on the throne alone.
In verse 10 Jesus says,
“THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.”
Pray without doubting and without wavering in faith. To be frank, that’s tough if you don’t know what God wants to do? We can gain confidence in prayer despite not knowing His divine plans. Well, at least, not all the details. However, through reading the Word we can gain good perspective. A huge positive is learning God’s character and the things He likes and dislikes.
For example, praying for the healing of our marriage is certain. The Bible reveals He wants to heal it because He hates divorce. Then again, is God’s will apparent if we pray for healing over a family member who’s sick? There have been countless times a child has died of cancer after thousands of people prayed for healing.
Still, the ability to pray without doubt is possible with a remembrance that God has our best in mind. He’s in control and His Will is most important.
Whatever needs to happen for God’s Will to be carried out is where our submission should be.
The most dynamic illustration witnessed is Jesus going to the cross. He prayed that the Father would take the circumstance from Him. But as seen, his prayer ended with, not my will but your Will be done. And where do we want His Will done?
On earth, in the same manner His Will is done in heaven.
In verse 11 Jesus says,
“GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.”
God knows what we need before we ask. Be that as it may still ask. It’s part of a relationship. Children are well aware we know they need to eat each day, yet it doesn’t stop them from asking for food. Without ceasing, I might add.
The concept of, “Our Daily Bread” is a basic need. No one can survive without eating. Furthermore, this extends from food to all aspects of provision. For instance, the roof over your head, clothing, toothpaste, a warm shower, transportation, clean water, seeing eyes, hearing ears, working body parts and systems. Even stretching a meal like Jesus demonstrated with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.
This piece of the framework is an opportunity to be thankful for the basic necessities and extras that God knows we need. Especially since, He’s faithful to provide. There shouldn’t be a doubt.
The bible says Jesus is the bread of life. God says we don’t live by bread alone, think Franz. Prayer will sustain you. Jesus went 40 days and 40 nights with only prayer, some food for thought.
In verse 12 Jesus says,
“AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.”
By all means, take heed. God says if we don’t forgive others as He has indeed forgiven those who believe in Him through faith. You won’t be forgiven.
Self examination is a constant must. It’s important to live a life sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Always seek to know you’ve sinned against God and other people. Ask God to show you where you’ve gone astray, so that, you don’t fall away from Him unknowingly.
Also, be diligent in forgiving those who have sinned against you. Yes, even if they make no effort to reconcile or acknowledge their wrongdoings. One of the most compelling aspects of faith is to understand this point.
Nothing anyone can do to you is worse than what you’ve done to God.
Be sure to remember that while we were still sinners, not even thinking about getting right with the Lord, Jesus died. He died so that we could have an opportunity at a relationship with him. In that same manner, extend forgiveness and mercy to those who sin against you.
In verse 13a Jesus says,
“AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL:
Sin separates us from God. Remember that. The importance of rejecting sin is note worthy because sin abounds through temptation. Acts of sin aren’t coincidence. In fact, the idea to sin is revealed through temptation first. Then as we come into agreement with the temptation the actions follow. Temptation will look different for everybody.
Everyone has different triggers in harmony to lusts of the flesh. To your demise, the enemy knows them well. The importance of prayer begs to be repeated. Be consistent. Seek God for delivery from temptation. He knows your weakness. However, when it comes to God, He is strong in that weakness, if we are connected to Him in prayer.
Stay diligent, the Word says, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 In order to be delivered from the enemy, be persistent in praying for deliverance. God knows what we need before we know. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have said to ask for it.
In verse 13b Jesus says,
“FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER. AMEN.
Ultimately, God has a plan. After all, He created all things. In John, it’s written, all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
As shown, this is Gods earth, his kingdom; all of everything belongs to Him. Acknowledging that truth is essential a fullness of prayer. There’s zero room to boast in “self”. Rather, all boasting is in the Lord.
Now that the outline for what to say is in place, let’s take a look at different situations and how they pertain to biblical prayer.
HOW TO PRAY IN GROUPS
First is praying in groups. You’re looking at different way this may come to be. Everybody may stand in a circle and hold hands. Maybe no one holds hands but both ways are options. The group may also sit in a circle in chairs and close their eyes while taking turns praying.
The order of prayer could go a couple different ways. One may be random order, usually referred to as “as the Lord leads”. This means, whenever an individual feels prompted to speak they start praying out loud. Surprisingly, I’ve never experienced a situation where people were falling over each other with the random approach. It flows well.
Another way is taking turns going in order of physical position around the circle or down a line.
Depending on your church group you may feel free to speak words of agreement and blessing the name of the Lord out loud while someone else is praying. Ask if that’s appropriate some church bodies don’t care for it.
No need to feel pressure in this. There’s a high probability you may feel out of place but keep in mind, you’re praying for the Lord not for anyone else.
HOW TO PRAY OVER MEALS
Praying before you eat is a way of honor and showing appreciation for the Lord providing. Typically, taking the basics of life for granted is easy. Since eating is a necessity, take the opportunity to say thank you.
Praying before eating doesn’t have to be elaborate. But certainly not a simple repeated prayer each meal, least it become vain and not heartfelt. Nevertheless, saying thank you is important.
You can also take the opportunity to acknowledge the folks who’ve prepared the meal. Often, behind the scenes is forgotten. The Lord says when you do for the least me you do for the greatest. The Lord has used the abilities of others to provide. Don’t hesitate to recognize that as well.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY
It happens. Don’t beat yourself up over it. They’ll be times your empty of words to express what’s in your heart. I’ve saved the most compelling aspect for last. The Holy Spirit will intercede in prayer for you. Imagine that. God stands in the gap for you.
What that means is, when you don’t know what to pray the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray. He knows all the time and will pray to the Father on your behalf.
Talk about a blessing.
If all you’re able to speak are the words of the Lord’s Prayer then do that.
Say it with heart and authenticity. The Lord will do the rest.
The idea here is to not slip into vain repetition. In truth, the damage of that way of prayer is losing the heart in it. Let your heart speak. Still, there are times we fall empty of words. The Lord is there to carry you.
NOW YOU KNOW HOW TO PRAY
Essentially, prayer is a conversation between you and God. To our benefit, He is gracious and merciful. Praise Him! The more you pray, the more comfortable you’ll become because you’re engaging in a relationship.
Remember, aesthetics aren’t nearly as important as the heart you bring forth. Be real, be honest, and be raw. God can use your honesty. He wants to get to know you and for you to know Him. Don’t over think it. Start slow and small and by nature you’ll grow confidence in prayer.
So now, your next order of business is learning how to listen. In a word, READ. YOUR. BIBLE. REGULARLY.
Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus and happy praying!
Share how prayer has changed your life in the comments below.