Prayer is basically a conversation with God.
It’s not a shopping list, or a list for Santa, “I want… and … and …”, it’s a conversation. Spend some time listening.
Hearing back can take many forms and that’s for another lesson. But the simplest way is to have your Bible open and ask God to speak to you from it.
Maybe even let God go first from time to time. After all, he is God and you are just a person. If you went to talk with your own king or president would you let them go first?
And if you’re praying in a group it’s OK to turn to one of the others and ask them a question about something you just said. It’s conversation after all.
You don’t have to close your eyes to pray. As you read prayers in the Bible you’ll notice that they usually were looking up to Heaven or flat on their face on the ground.
But sometimes it helps you focus (like in a group when you’re all praying).
I think you should only pray about things you really care about. Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it didn’t rain for years.
If you have a “list” of things you should be praying for, then read the list first, but then only pray for the ones you remember.
Remember the Holy Spirit is in you. He will bring things to your mind and burden your heart so you are almost bursting to pray for them.
And be real with God. No need to hold back your feelings. He is your Father. Be open. Expose your heart.
Paul says you should pray without ceasing. That might take some getting used to. For now just pray when you feel like it. Or when you particularly don’t feel like it. But don’t feel bad if you skip the times in between.
There is a lot of legalism about prayer. Don’t fall into that trap.
You also probably hear a lot of people ending their prayer with “In Jesus name, Amen”, or something like that.
Amen just means “I agree” and we use it to signal to others that we’re done. The “In Jesus’ name” bit is because Jesus said we could ask anything in his name and the Father would grant it.
But he didn’t mean tack it on at the end like a signature.
It’s kind of like the old signet rings that kings used to have. If a decree or order was stamped with the king’s ring it was legally binding. And if the king entrusted you to run things for him he would give you the ring. So you could “sign” things as if you were the king, and they would be treated as if the king has signed them himself.
Jesus meant something like that. You (a guilty sinner) have no right to ask God for anything. He graciously does let you ask, but you have no right. But as a Christian, God sees you very differently. But this is only because of Jesus not because of you. Basically Jesus has given you authority to use his name when you request things from God. “Jesus said I could ask for my daughter to be healed”. It’s as if you have been given permission to use Jesus’ signet ring when you request something from God.
Sadly some people treat it like a magic phrase for ending prayer. Sometimes I deliberately don’t even mention Jesus name in a prayer to make a point. But of course, in my heart I know my only right to be heard comes from the fact that I do come to God in Jesus’ name.
Some people try to put on a different voice, or different attitude when they pray. Don’t do that. Just be real.
And don’t worry if there are pauses. It’s a conversation. Some people say “Lord” all the time in their prayer to fill in the gaps. I find that annoying. I think Jesus would too, but he’s more gracious about it than me.
Try to record your prayer (on your phone, or something like that) and then play it back. Listen to yourself pray.
And finally, there are some things you really don’t even need to ask for.
God guarantees food, shelter and clothing (Read Matthew 6). Not only if you ask for them. Just like if you were a child. (Your earthly father will provide you with food, shelter, safety at night, things like that right? Kid’s don’t need to keep asking for those, they just know that their Dad is there and all that stuff comes).
I hear people praying that God will be with them. Think about it. The Holy Spirit lives in you. How can God not be with you?
There are more. You will find them.
Remember that your only right to be heard is because you come in the name of Jesus.
Pray as often as you feel led. Pray aloud as much as you can. Pray for others more than you pray for yourself. Pray with others. Pray. ReadingJohn 17Matthew 6James 5John 14Luke 5:16