One of the biggest aspects of living a Christian life is prayer time with God. For many Christians, especially new believers this is something that often sounds mystical or mysterious and many Christians have a lot of questions about prayer. In this article we want to explore how to pray to God, but also delve into other basic questions… what is prayer? Do you need prayer? Does prayer help? By the time we finish it is my hope you have a good understanding of how to pray to God and how that daily discipline will change your life for the better.
So what exactly is prayer?
We see people around the world in prayer, people of all nations, all cultures, all religions… prayer is prevalent. In a generic sense prayer is a person communicating with a higher power. In the Christian faith prayer is our direct line to our creator, the one True God. Prayer is bringing your petition to God no matter what it may be… healing, strength, encouragement, direction, thanksgiving… in all things we should go in prayer (Phillipians 4:6).
Prayer is also a form of worship, when we give praise and thanksgiving to God for all that He has done in our lives and the world. We know that God is a very jealous God because He tells us so in scripture (Exodus 20:5), so we must be very careful to only pray in His name. Prayers should not be sent in the name of Mary or the Saints or anyone other than the Triune God… Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So how specifically should we pray to God?
The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to pray. We are all different and we will all connect with God in various ways. Some people like to find a quiet place where they can be alone with God, which I highly recommend. When there are no distractions and your environment is peaceful it will be much easier to communicate clearly. It is a good idea to set an appointment with God, a time and place each day where you know you will spend some quiet time alone with Him. In my experience I prefer to start my day this way, as it helps to invigorate me as I walk out the door and into the world.
On the other hand we do not want to become so structured that we only pray to God when our calendar tell us it is time. When you are going about your day, say small prayers… ask for help, give thanks or just let God know how you are feeling in that moment. Often times we may not know what to pray for and in these times we must rely on the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) to intercede for us in our weakness.
Prayer is about a relationship with God, very similar to the relationship between a father and son on Earth. If a man on Earth needs help, or comfort, or just wants to share a part of his life with someone, he will often turn to his father. When a father sees his child going through a tough time, he wants to hear about it, and help him if possible get through it. This is no different than our Father in Heaven, who loves each of us more than we can imagine.
People often ask: Should I pray on my knees? Should I pray out loud? Or other such details. There is no one correct answer to these questions. In my day I spend time on my knees praying, sitting at my desk praying and even praying while I am working. There are times when I pray quietly and times when I speak out loud. There are times when I cry, sing, laugh and shout out in prayer.
So do I need to pray? Does prayer really work?
If you ever want a testimony about the effectiveness of prayer just ask anyone who prays on a regular basis. Prayer is a life-changing practice that will bring you closer to God. The closer you come to God the more peace and joy will fill your heart. You will learn to trust and rely on God more because you will start to see answered prayers unfold in your life. When Jesus Christ walked the Earth He spent a considerable amount of time in prayer because He wanted to leave behind an example for us to follow as Christians.
Keep in mind, it is more about you and your circumstances and God wants to know you on a very personal level… Yes He knows everything there is to know already, but more importantly He wants you to freely join Him in communion and share your life with Him.
Recently I wrote another article “Does God Always Hear Our Prayers?” where I discuss some ways that our prayers may be hindered as Christians… meaning God will purposely not listen to them. So try to remember, as I stated earlier, that it is all about relationship. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). If you are living a life of willful sin, unconfessed sin or unforgiveness your prayer life will be hampered. On the other hand, when you learn to truly surrender all things to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ your life will be taken to new spiritual levels.
Imagine for a moment your Mother lived very far away, in another state our country. The only way you communicate with your Mother is the occasional phone call, letter, email, visit etc. Now suppose I asked you “how close are you and your Mother?” and you replied very very close! Then I asked, when was the last time you spoke to her? You think hard and reply about 12 years ago. In this case your definition of “close” varies greatly with mine!!!
Understand that prayer is when we speak with God. Meditation on Holy Scripture is when God speaks with us. If you rarely pick up the phone to speak to your Heavenly Father then how close of a relationship do you really have?
So YES I believe if you desire to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ, a healthy regular prayer life is essential.