How to Pray

474429_75894071Prayer is the fundamental tool we as believers use to communicate with the God who created us. As Christians, we dress it up using thee and thou and our Father, who art in Heaven. Who art? Who talks like that now? Not to make anyone feel bad for taking a page from Matthew and King James, but the prayer that Jesus spoke of (recorded in Matthew 6:9-13) was never intended being a memorized method to connecting with the Father. We like to sound fancy and sophisticated, but God really doesn’t care about the words used. Our refined vernacular won’t get us any further than a camel gets through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24).


God is looking at our heart and our motives. He wants to know that you want to connect with him, and prayer―honest prayer―will get you straight to the heart of your Heavenly Daddy.


What does it look like to pray?

Prayer is simply talking to God. I do this a lot in my car. I talk to him like as if he were sitting in my passenger seat. Sure, I might look like I am talking to myself, but I am past the point of worrying about what others think. (I also just talk to him in my head when there are moments that I am actively seen by people I know). He is a great listener. The prayer can be as simple as asking for help or asking for healing, peace, or comfort for yourself or a friend.

If you have time and are carving out space to have prayer and meditation (time to listen) in your day, then I would suggest looking at The Lord’s Prayer as a guide―not a recitation piece.

Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

When you look at these words, what is Jesus trying to convey about prayer? The loose structure has been to me this way and I hope it speaks to you like it did me:

Verse 9 and 10 are declaring praise to God. We start our prayer with worship. Worship opens the door to the Father’s heart. It also puts him in proper perspective to our impending list of needs that we will ultimately bring to the table. Worship puts Him above everything. We need that mindset if we are to boldly approach the throne of Heaven and expect a God who delivers.

Next, (in verse 11) a request is made for our provision. It will look different from day-to-day, moment to moment, but we are to trust that the One whose name we are praising can meet our needs.

Then, (in verse 12) we are asking to be made clean and extend grace to others. Being forgiven before we ask to be able to forgive others allows us to be reminded that we are in need of grace too. I know I am much more willing to forgive when I am freshly reminded of the fact that I have needed forgiveness myself.

In the final statement of this prayer (verse 13) we can see that our source and strength to defeat the Enemy, is in our connection with God. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to withstand temptation and our hope rests in the Lord who delivers. This is again a form of worship by declaring our dependence on the Holy One. Worship bookends the act of prayer so beautifully. It is not required in order for the Lord to hear your prayer though. An honest heart is all that is required. However, if you have the time to really get into prayer, this model can bring you into a deep connection with God.

On a side note, I believe real prayers can be raw, unrefined, and outwardly ugly. I have cried, accused, and even cursed during prayer. I have been mad at God and withheld nothing in my emotions. I have hurt so bad and even ashamed of what I have done that my prayers feel like they are irreverent and probably just hitting the ceiling. Please don’t let human emotion stop you from praying. Don’t let eloquence or “seasoned prayer warriors” intimidate you either.


Fluffy words will float around the room and impress the ears that hear, but God can see through that in a heartbeat. If that is their intent―to impress―then they have their reward. If the prayer―fancy or not―is sincere then rest assured the Lord hears every precious word!


 

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