Prayer is talking to God.
Jesus modeled a simple example of this in what’s called “the Lord’s Prayer,” in Matthew 6:9-13. This prayer was an answer to one of his friends asking how to pray.
Yet there are different types of prayer like there are different types of conversations with friends. We can pray for other people. We can pray for ourselves. We can ask for protection, healing, strength, and wisdom. We can thank God for his goodness, mercy, and forgiveness. We can tell him about what we love. We can thank him for what he’s given us. Or tell him our cares, fears, doubts, and questions.
All of this is good!
God cares that you pray honestly. He knows your thoughts. Pray with your whole heart. Approach him with humility, thankfulness, and confidence.
Pray with hands raised, in your lap, or folded. Pray with your eyes open or closed. Walk, stand, sit, bow, or lie down. Pray in the morning, or evening, or afternoon, or all day.
Don’t try to sound profound. God isn’t impressed with fancy words. He knows more than you do. Just be genuine. Be yourself and talk to God with respect. Trust that he wants to listen to your prayers, and that he actually loves to be with you.
Pray by yourself and pray with others. Praying together is important! It brings us together and it pleases God.
Don’t be intimidated by other people who are more comfortable praying out loud. Prayer isn’t about us. It’s about growing closer to God as we express our hearts to him. If someone makes you feel silly for how you pray, that says a lot more about them than about you. It shows arrogance, and arrogance is evil.
Every Christian should develop a diligent prayer habit. This means scheduling a time every day to pray. If you don’t do that, prayer has a way of disappearing from your life. If you don’t practice scheduled prayer, consider starting with a fifteen-minute chunk of time. Scheduling your time in the early morning, before you start your day, is recommended. It tends to be more helpful than when you schedule time at night because you might be tired, busy, or distracted. Prayer has a way of changing the course of your day in a good way.
Split your prayer time into different sections. You will probably find it helpful to write down a prayer plan so you have something to look at if you have a hard time thinking of anything to pray about.
Here’s one suggested structure: first, confess any mistakes you’ve made, and ask God for forgiveness. Then spend a few minutes thanking him for his goodness, forgiveness, gentleness, and love. Take a few more minutes to praise him for his faithfulness and power. Pray for your family and friends. Be silent for a while, waiting for God to speak to you. Then spend any remaining time praying for God to strengthen you for your day.
You can also use the Bible as a prayer guide. For instance, read the Bible, then talk with God about what you read, and ask him to help you understand what you found confusing.
Good habits take time to grow. Be patient with the process. Be patient with yourself. Just don’t be lazy.
After being diligent to spend fifteen minutes in prayer each day, many people find that they want to lengthen the amount of prayer time. This is wonderful! We’ve found it remains helpful to split up the time into different focuses. It keeps us from getting overwhelmed or frustrated.
Prayer is intentional. Like love, it must be active to be real.
You may be surprised, if you commit to trying it, that praying for a single hour is not only possible, it’s enjoyable! That’s because we need prayer. We long for close relationship with God more than anything else. And that intimate relationship changes us.
God calls us to prayer. He longs for us to speak with him. Talking with God satisfies our souls in a way nothing else can. When we neglect prayer, we neglect ourselves and the people we love. Let’s spend time with God, letting him strengthen and encourage us daily!
He loves satisfying and delighting us with his presence. He wants to be with you, so that you can get to know and enjoy him.
Schedule time with God in your day, or your day will crowd him out. If you neglect to pray, you’ll find yourself discouraged, lonely, and falling into evil. But if you are faithful to pray diligently, God will reward you more deeply than you could imagine.
Did you know God prays for you?
Pray in the following ways for five minutes each: praise; confession; read a Psalm; thanksgiving; worship; wait for him to speak to you; share your requests with God; pray for others; pray through Psalm 23, or another Psalm that lends itself toward being prayed; meditate on who God is; ask him to strengthen you to be like him; then end with more praise.