What is prayer ?
The simple answer is that prayer is talking to God, and taking the time to listen for His response.
The more complex answer is that God invites you to come into His presence.
When you pray, you have the Almighty Creator of the Universe’ s attention.
Over time, as you develop the habit of talking to God and taking the time to listen ti Him, then prayer becomes a conversation. Over time, this becomes a way of life.
Why do we pray?
For many reasons. To list a few :
* To get to know the One who created us.
* To experience His power, when we are powerless. God’s power is at work answering when we pray. The same God who intervened in History and in Scripture, is the same God who is willing to intervene in Your life.
* To intercede for other people. Sometimes the people we live are going through unimaginable situations, and we feel powerless. The reality is that in and of ourselves we are powerless. But out Heavenly Father isn’t. He invites us to intercede on others’ behalf .
When should I pray?
Paul instructs is to pray at all times. David mentioned praying evening, morning and at noon.
Remember that establishing a regular habit of prayer is more important than the actual time of day.
Choose a time when you’re not going to be interrupted. Silence notifications on your phone and other devices. These things may seem minor, but can make a big difference in your ability to focus.
Many people find it helpful to start their day with prayer and God’s Word. Some people end their day with prayer and Scripture reading. Choose a time that works best for you.
What is the best way to pray?
When praying , there are some things to keep in mind.
*Pray about Everything. Philippians 4:6 .
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
* Pray with confidence . Hebrews 4:16.
“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
Pray regularly. Build it into routines that already exist for you.
* Pray privately. Remember that Jesus earned us against overt displays of religion that bring glory to ourselves and impress others.
*pray about what’s on your heart. Don’t worry about dressing your words up spiritually. Just tell God what you think and feel and need.
And this one should probably go without saying but I’m going to mention it…
*pray In line with Scripture. If you are asking for something that clearly goes against the standard God has set, do you think He will honor that?
Ok, but what do I say?
Good news! Jesus gave us a detailed model prayer that we can follow, but He also gave us freedom to share whatever is on our minds. Jesus’ model prayer is often referred to as The Lords Prayer.
Matthew 6 : 5-13
“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven,your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come.Your will be doneon earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one. Give us today our daily bread.” (CSB)
From this passage there are two things I want to highlight.
1) Jesus expects us to pray. He assumes we are going to pray regularly. He says “when” you pray, not “if.”
2) Our forgiveness of others is tied directly to our prayer life.
If you are just beginning your prayer journey, then you may find it helpful to memorize the Lords Prayer and use that as your model . Over time, you will begin to adjust and add to this general prayer.
Formulas for Prayer
There are times when rote memorization can be boring, and there are times when our mouths are saying prayers we have memorized, but our hearts are somewhere else… and yet, there are many times in our life when a prayer formula can be effective.
The four I want to mention are Lectio Divina , ACTS, Beth Moore’s Prayer format, and Prayer Journals.
*Lectio Divina – there are many excellent resources in the world of Lectio Divina. But for our purposes let’s simply define it as slowly reading a part of Scripture, then contemplating it, turning it over in our minds , meditating on it, and then praying it back to God.
* ACTS- acronym for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.
Adoration is simply praising God. In this model you are starting your prayer with praise.
Confession is naming your sins. He knows everything you did, so you may as well fess up. Confession clears the junk that builds up in our relationship with God.
Thanksgiving- thanking God for working in your life.
Supplication-praying for your needs and the needs of others around you.
* Bible teacher Beth Moore has a prayer journal model where you write a paragraph of Interaction-and then a paragraph of Intercession.
* one thing that’s worked well for me is just praying each day by writing out one piece of notebook paper a day. Obviously sometimes I pray more, but I have found that one piece of notebook paper is so simple that I am not tempted to skip it.
In conclusion, I’m never going to be able to to touch on everything we need to know about prayer. We haven’t even talked about how God answered prayer in Scripture with Moses, Elijah, Samuel… We haven’t talked about about Gods promise to hear our prayers in answer to Solomon. Out how Jesus called the Temple a House of Prayer.
My hope is that this quick overview leads us into deeper discussions.