For the past few weeks, we’ve been slowly working our way through the 11 spiritual disciplines for Christians.
Last week I covered 5 ways to study the Bible.
Today, I’m going to answer some common questions about prayer, how to pray, and what to say when you pray.
What is Prayer?
Dictionary.com defines prayer as “A solemn request for help or expression of thanks to God.”
As a Christian prayer is one of the foundational cornerstones of your faith.
Prayer is your direct line of communication with God.
Why is Prayer Important?
Did you know that Jesus often left his disciples to pray on his own? (Luke 6:12) He also taught his disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11: 1-4).
As Jesus’ disciple, it is important that you follow his lead and make prayer an essential part of your daily life.
Benefits of Prayer
1. Prayer strengthens your relationship with God.
God desires to have a relationship with you. One way you can build that relationship is through prayer.
2. Prayer allows you to reflect and repent.
Nobody is perfect. You will sin every day. When you go to God in prayer, one of the first things you should do is repent of your sins.
Unrepentant sin separates you from God and can cause your prayers to go unanswered.
3. Prayer gives God a chance to speak to you.
Prayer is not a one-way dialogue between you and God. God also desires to speak to us during this time, if we listen.
4. Prayer brings you closer together with other Christians.
Praying together with and for your brothers and sisters in Christ draws you closer together as a church family.
5. Prayer changes you.
As your prayer life and relationship with God grows, you will start to change and become more like Christ.
How Do Christians Pray?
As I mentioned before, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. This prayer is commonly known as the Lord’s prayer.
Since it is the model prayer, I will base the rest of this post on what Jesus taught his disciples.
Is There a Correct Way to Pray?
Yes, and no.
The Bible does not give us a clear step-by-step method for praying. But, Jesus gives his disciples a few pointers on what not to do when we pray.
1. Don’t Pray to Get Attention.
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. (Matt 6:5)
You should not pray in public to be seen by others or to be seen as more religious than someone else.
You can pray in public with other people, but make sure it’s for the right reason.
2. Don’t Be Ritualistic When You Pray.
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Matt 6:7)
God doesn’t want you to recite ritualistic prayers and chants.
God doesn’t care about the length of your prayers, but that they are sincere and from the heart.
Who Should You Pray To?
I could write a whole post on this topic, but not today.
Christians do not pray to Allah, the universe, or some random God in the sky.
Our prayers are addressed to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Or as the Jews refer to him as Yahew.
However, Jesus preferred to address God in a more intimate way, as God the father.
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus starts his prayer with, Our Father in heaven…(Matthew 6:9). In the Gospel of John, Jesus prays for his disciples, He starts his prayer with…Father, the hour has come…(John 17:1).
How Should You Pray?
Many cultures and religions have specific directions on how one ought to pray. For example, one of the pillars of Islam is Salat. According to Salat, Muslims must pray five times a day facing Mecca.
Before they can pray, they must undergo ritual washing, be dressed appropriately, recite the ritual prayers along with the prescribed movements.
The Bible doesn’t give us any strict instructions on how we should pray as Christians.
However, we are instructed to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:16).
What Do You Say When You Pray?
One of the most commonly recited prayers is the Lord’s prayer. Remember the Lord’s prayer is a model prayer. It’s a guide for how we should pray.
9 This, then, is how you should pray,”Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us today our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”Matthew 6:9-13, ESV
What should you say when you pray?
7 Steps to Prayer for Beginners
Step 1: Speak to and Praise God (vs 9)
Start your prayer by addressing God and giving Him praise.
When you read prayers in the bible, you will often see God addressed as LORD, God, Father, Yahweh, Jehovah, etc. Any of these names is an acceptable way to address him.
Hallowed in this text means holy. It reminds us that God is a holy and righteous God that deserves our praise.
This is the perfect time to thank God for anything he has done for you.
Step 2: Pray that God’s will be done. (vs 10)
God is not our personal genie. His plans are often better than our own plans. He wants you to be a part of his plan.
Ask God to show you his will for your life and that he will help you submit to the plans he has for you.
Step 3: Pray for your needs. (vs 11)
God is concerned about our daily needs. Pray that your needs for the day will be met and for the needs of others.
Step 4: Pray for forgiveness and Forgive Others (vs 12)
True and continual repentance is the key to living a life pleasing to God. No human being has ever been free from sin except for Jesus.
You should repent daily for your sins (wilful and accidental).
Because you have been forgiven God, requires you to forgive others. In verses 14-15, Jesus warns his disciples, that if they don’t forgive other people then God won’t forgive them.
Step 5: Pray for protection from trials and temptation.
Most bibles use the word temptation in this verse, but the word is more correctly translated as trials or tests.
God does not tempt anyone, but he does allow his children to go through tests and trials.
Pray and ask God that you would be spared from such testing and that you will avoid the traps of the enemy.
Step 6: End your prayer.
There are several ways you can close out your prayer.
- Saying Amen.
- In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
- Praising God for hearing and answering your prayer.
These are all great ways to end your prayer.
Step 7: Listen
This step is often the most overlooked. God wants to talk to us. Yet, many of us are too busy to stop and listen to what he has to say.
Take a minute or 2 after you’ve closed your prayer to listen to God’s voice. Keep a pen and paper handy to write what God has to say.
Dig A Little Deeper Into The Lord’s Prayer
Prayer is one of the key spiritual disciplines that all Christians need to engage in daily. Having a powerful prayer life will help get you through many of life’s toughest challenges.
Remember, prayer doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. Just pour out your heart to God.
He is ready to hear from you.
As always, keep Jesus in the center of everything you do.
Your sister in Christ,