We’ve heard it all our lives: God answers prayer! We’ve been told all our lives that we should pray. We may have even memorized the Lord’s Prayer. Yet prayer can seem like such an enigma, can’t it? We wonder if we are doing it right. There’s so much to pray for. We don’t know where to start. Here are a four tips we hope are helpful.
Within His continual Presence
The first place to start is to consider prayer as an ongoing conversation with someone you love and who loves you. We don’t relegate conversations with our family members to a certain time of the day and not speak to them again the rest of the day. God is our heavenly Father who cares deeply about us and our hopes and hurts. He is always with you and always ready to hear from you. Practice thinking you are in his presence and continue in an attitude of prayer throughout the day.
Add Some Structure
Are you thinking “The above sounds great, but I’m not even praying a few minutes each day.”? How do you get started or get in a routine? If you aren’t currently praying with any consistency, don’t feel like you have to pray 30 minutes or an hour each day. Start small. Try 10 minutes a day for 30 days. Decide the best time for you and set an alarm on your phone, put sticky notes on your mirror, put a prayer rock in your pocket, do whatever works for you to remind you to pray so it becomes a consistent part of your life.
Or you may be on the opposite end of the spectrum and have so much you want to pray over but can’t make it through the list every day. Try breaking it up. Pray over certain things daily and others weekly. Every day you can pray over your day, for your children, and/or about work. Then schedule other things by the days of the week. For example, Mondays you can pray for the requests mentioned in your Sunday Bible study, Tuesdays pray for missions, Wednesdays pray for co-workers needs, Thursdays the church prayer list, etc. Think through your list and divide it up so it’s not overwhelming each day.
Have trouble with your mind wandering during prayer? Try praying out loud or journaling your prayers. Some like to use a structure such as ACTS or PRAY to help stay on task. ACTS stands for Adoration–who He is, Confession, Thanksgiving–for what He has done, and Supplication for what’s needed. PRAY is broken into Praise, Repent, Ask, and Yield. Others follow the steps in the Lord’s Prayer–praise, praying for His kingdom or will, praying for daily needs, and repentance/forgiveness. These simple structures can help guide you and keep you focused. Of course, if you are overwhelmed, feel free to just pour out your heart before him as David did in the Psalms.
Yearn to Glorify Him
In the Bible, men and women would pray prayers that acknowledged God-his honor, glory, character, and sovereignty (cite). That was their basis for God to answer their prayers. In Daniel 9, you can see several ways that Daniel acknowledged God’s character as he prayed. Like David, who was angry at Goliath’s insults to God’s reputation, we should yearn to see God honored and lifted up. We should be concerned about God’s reputation and want Him to be glorified. Prayers that acknowledge God will gain God’s attention and answer.
When our prayers align with Scripture and the will of God, we have the assurance He hears and will answer (John 15:7). An example of this in Scripture can be found in Nehemiah 1 where Nehemiah reminded God of His Word. Scripture is full of promises; pray them in prayer. Not sure where to find them? Google “verses about ___________” and look at them in the biblical context to see which truly apply to your situation. Here are a couple of links for you as well: 222 Prayers in the Bible; A List of Bible Promises. As we referenced above, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
We hope these ideas are helpful to you. And we want to hear and learn from you. Is there an idea that you like that you want to try? What is a way that you have prayed that has helped you?