Prayer is this amazing opportunity we have to connect with God at any time and bring Him into the center of our lives. While we may at times be perplexed as to God’s timing and answers, we can always trust that God is listening and does answer.
Turning our heart toward God
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:5-15) the starting point of prayer was to connect with God as Father and not a list of requests. In thinking about God as Father, we are coming to someone who is family and in thinking about God, we come humbly. This helps give a “God perspective” on our prayers.
When to pray
Scripture encourages prayer without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Prayer is often a conversation with God about things happening in your life throughout the day. This can be out loud or in your mind and heart.
- It may be a few simple words such as “Good morning Lord”, “Lord I love you” or an urgent “Lord please help me”
- Set aside a regular time to pray each day. It will change your life.
- Prayer with others and in groups can be encouraging and is a good time to share burdens in life. Galatians 6:2
How to pray
If possible, it is better to start your day with a dedicated prayer time but if this is not practical, find another regular time that works for you. Here are some options to include:
- Find a quiet place to help you focus. Matthew 6:5-6
- Pray quietly or aloud.
- You may be on your knees, sitting or standing.
- Be thankful. Philippians 4:6
- Read scripture. This allows God to speak to you through His Word and so this means it can become a two-way conversation.
- You may include some worship songs.
- A prayer journal can help you focus, remind you of the things you need to pray for and provide a place to record answers. It can build faith as you look back over your prayer journal to see those answers.
- Pray with purpose and look for God to answer. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7
- Pray with persistence not giving up. Luke 18:1-8
- Pray with the faith you have. Romans 12:3; Hebrews 11:6
- If you are praying in a group, don’t be shy but also don’t use it as an opportunity to preach and don’t be long-winded. Allow others time to pray. Matthew 6:7
The Lord’s prayer
Consider the prayer taught to the disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 as a suggested pattern, not a prescription.
- “Our Father in heaven” – Our focus should start here and not on our problems. God has made us part of His family and as the True Father in heaven, He wants to bless His family.
- “Hallowed be your name” – This is actually the first request in this prayer. The name of God is honourable and holy and His many names in scripture tell us about His character. This also speaks of worship.
- “Your Kingdom come, your will be done:” – We often think we know best, but it is God’s will that is always best, and we need His will to be done, not ours or anybody else’s.
- “Give us today our daily bread” – After we have focused on God as Father, then we can get to our problems and needs and be expectant for Him to answer. Notice the “Us”. This is a good time and place to pray for the needs of others.
- “Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us” This can be hard, but we need forgiveness and we need to forgive. Forgiveness brings peace into our hearts and helps us have God’s viewpoint.
- “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” The Greek word for temptation can also mean testing. It is good to express a heart that wants to be led away from temptation and we certainly need to rely on God’s strength not to sin
- ” for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” This is not in all Bible texts but is a good way to finish with a focus on God as being all-powerful forever.
- Amen. Amen is actually a Hebrew word linked to the idea of faithfulness and truth. It expresses a firm trust and reliability in God hearing and answering our prayers.
Jesus set the example: Hebrews 5:7
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Job set an example:
Job is an amazing example of a person in the Bible who endured great suffering and continued to value the importance of prayer. His words found in Job 22:27:
27You will pray to him, and he will hear you, …
Job also said that no matter what happens, even if it appears that God has failed me, I will trust in Him. Job:13:15
The challenge of prayer
There are some challenges to prayer:
- The first is our tendency to not pray enough or to leave it as a last resort. It is so important to give it priority and intentionality. We need to create prayer habits.
- The second challenge to prayer is that we don’t always get the answers we want or expect. This can be perplexing at times and a challenge to our faith. The timing of answers may stretch our faith, but He always listens and will always answer whether that be a yes, no or not at this time. Sometimes our expectations need to be tamed by a deeper understanding through reading scripture.
- Often things do not work out how we expect because we live in a sinful world but God will walk with us through all our circumstances. The point is to never give up. Luke 18:1
Prayer takes many forms. It can be formal, it can be a quick heartfelt request to God, it can be for yourself and others.
- Make Prayer part of your daily life.
- Decide to pray in all circumstances.
- Check out the post on “Prayers that get answered”