Prayer isn’t an easy thing to understand. The Bible talks about why it is important, as well as how to do it. But the act of praying is a complex concept to grasp. Man has defined prayer as “an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.” For followers of Christ, prayer is direct communication with God. The shape that communication takes varies from person to person and situation to situation. Some pray silently in thought. Others pray out loud. You can pray alone or in a group.
Any way that you pray, the intention is the same, to speak to God and be heard by him. Like the Word says in Jeremiah 29:12 (ESV), “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Similarly, in 1 John 5:14 (ESV), John says that “if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” God commands us to pray in Ephesians 6:18, to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and Jesus tells us how to pray in Matthew 6.
All of this put together, and prayer can start to feel overwhelming. And in turn, prayer can be forgotten or pushed aside. However, if you approach prayer with a plan and a purpose, you can make it a fruitful part of your everyday life.
Where do we start?
- Make Time
Humans are creatures of habit. For better or worse, we often settle into our ways. This fact is perhaps the biggest hurdle to clear when making prayer a part of your life. Our media consumption habits don’t make it easy to fit in prayer. With television shows, movies, podcasts, blogs, and social media, most days our time and attention spans are both minimal at best. So, it’s critical to be purposeful in structuring prayer into your day.What is your morning routine like right now? Where can you make time for prayer? Pause skimming through Facebook or Twitter while you eat. Turn off the morning news for 15 minutes while you finish your cup of coffee. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal. It’s likely the time is there. You just have to find it. When prayer becomes part of your daily routine, you’re more likely to find opportunities throughout your day will begin to pop up where you can speak with God. In that way, we can get closer to “praying without ceasing.”
- Be Still
Psalm 46:10 (ESV) says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” This verse epitomizes the significance of God and the importance of eliminating distractions when you pray. Multitasking is a way of life for many. But God deserves our attention. Remember to focus on him as you pray.
- Meditate on the Word
Prayer and scripture go hand in hand. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” If we’re spending time with God, we should also be hearing what he has to say to us through his Word. Then we can go into our day “equipped” with what we need. If you need guidance with what to read each day, there are Bible reading plans, daily study Bibles, and daily devotional books that can guide your time in God’s Word.
- Talk with God
Now what do you say? You’ve picked up the metaphorical phone, and the creator of the universe is on the other end. It’s easy to get tongue tied or get caught up in trying to say something important sounding to God. But God wants us to “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV). He desires to hear what’s on our hearts, not what we think he wants to hear from us.In good times and bad, God wants us to bring our worries to him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philipians 4:6 ESV). Don’t put up walls or hide things from him. Like David says in Psalms 139:1 (ESV), “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” He knows us inside and out, and Jesus told us that “…your Father knows what you need before ask him” (Matthew 6:8 ESV). Take comfort in the fact that God knows what you need to say before you even say it.
So how do we pray? Jesus gives us an example in Matthew 6:9-13. And a way to imitate this structure is the ACTS model, which stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Start by praising and adoring God for what he has done for you because he is “worthy of praise” (Psalm 145:3 ESV). Then, take time to share with God the things you’ve done wrong. We know “…Christ died for our sins…” (1 Corinthians 15:3 ESV), but we still live in a world where “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). When we confess our sins to God, “…he is faithful and just and will forgive us…”, according to 1 John 1:9 ESV. In light of this forgiveness, thank him for blessings and mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23 ESV). Finally, supplication means bringing your needs and the needs of others to God. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). Hand your worries over to God.
Remember, this is only a guide. As you grow and mature in your prayer life, you’ll find your own way to communicate with him. But this is a good place to start.
The Fort Worth Christian Prayer Breakfast believes in the power of prayer to change lives, cities, states, and nations. Additionally, we know that the Word of God exists for the edification of those who read it. These beliefs are why we come together to spend time in prayer, while also taking an opportunity to learn from God’s Word and those who it speaks through. You can find out more about the Fort Worth Christian Prayer Breakfast here.