We’ve explored the difference prayer can make, and we found that not only has God promised that he hears and will answer prayers, but that a lifestyle of prayer transforms the heart.
Doubts about how to pray can often stall people from praying at all. In the end, however, it’s important to simply begin.
At its most basic level prayer is talking to God.
Every relationship relies on communication, and although unique in many ways, a relationship with God requires communication as well. Not praying because you feel strange doing it or are worried you’ll say the wrong thing will only hinder your relationship with God. In order to learn more about how to begin a lifestyle of prayer, turn to the Bible.
There are many types of prayers – prayers of praise and thanksgiving, lamentation, and petition – and the Bible is full of examples of these. The book of Psalms, for instance, contains prayers of praise, lamentation, and petition. Many people use these as their own prayers to God. In the Gospels we have examples of how Jesus himself prayed. His prayers to God were often done in solitude, and he was both reverent and vulnerable in prayer, holding nothing back from the Father (John 17).
An especially important reference for learning how to pray is found in Matthew 6:7-13. In this passage Jesus teaches his disciples what’s known today as The Lord’s Prayer.
When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Looking at this passage it can be seen that God wants us to praise him in prayer, to ask for his will to be done, and to also ask for the things that we need, both physically (food) and spiritually (forgiveness, strength to resist evil, etc.). Finally, Jesus told his disciples not to ramble in prayer – it isn’t beneficial.
When beginning to pray, you can choose to pray The Lord’s Prayer word for word and/or use it as a model to form your own prayer.
Remember, God sees your heart and already knows what you need. Don’t worry about whether or not your prayer is perfect – that’s not necessary. Like in any relationship, over time and with practice, your communication with God through prayer will improve and become easier for you.
So just begin, and know that God is listening and ready to have a relationship with you.