The Best Way to Learn How to Pray
Prayer is a mystery to the world and many Christian’s. When I thought God existed but surely didn’t care about me, prayers were hopeless cries for help at best and self-righteous accusations of Him at worst. But even after I knew God loved me enough to give His son to die for me, prayer was abstract. I’ve been like an awkward friend on this journey with Jesus, often not knowing what to say. But in my secret place meetings with God, He showed me how to pray.
Praying the Word
As I began a habit of reading God’s word I found there is so much He made available to us. Almost as if by accident, I started praying for the things God has promised us using His word as a template. For example, when I would read:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
—Philippians 4:4-8 (NASB)
I would pray, “God, I rejoice in you. Help me to always rejoice. Help me to have a gentle spirit that is evident. Thank you for being near to me, and I have nothing to worry about.” Then I would tell him all of the things that were on my heart and thank Him for helping me with them. I’d continue, “God, thank you for your great peace which guards me. Help me now to put my mind on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, a good report, excellent, and worthy of praise.”
One of the pastors at my church gave me a book a couple years ago. Trinna and I use it often to help us pray because it uses Scripture. It’s divided into topics and has the verses that fit those subjects written in prayer form. I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re interested it’s called Prayers That Avail Much.
As you are reading the Bible, turn verses and sections into prayer. This has carried over into my life even when I don’t have the Bible in front of me, and it has empowered me to always know what to pray.
How to Pray Without Ceasing
Jesus is my model. I don’t always represent Him well, but shoot for the stars, right? Jesus said to pray in the secret place where it is just you and God. Hide away and read His word, pray His word, and listen to Him.
But bring Him with you when you leave. Jesus didn’t only pray in isolation, but for the hearers benefit He prayed in public as well. And He showed an even deeper life of prayer when He said He only did what He saw the Father doing. This must have taken constant communion with God.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
Now I see life as a constant act of prayer. From the moment I wake I’m talking with God about my thoughts, feelings, family, work, goals, and situations I’m in. I don’t wait to start praying when I’m on my knees or in the face of a problem. Praying is like breathing, I can hold my breath for a little while, but eventually, my body forces me to gasp for air—I can’t keep from praying.
I think this is how we should live as best as we can. Taking every thought and moment to God. Recognizing He is always with us and living our life with that in mind. When we are in constant prayer, He is able to help us, teach us, and use us in each moment to show the world His love.
Please share what you have learned about prayer and how God has used it in your life.