How to pray

I have talked in the past about how we can find God. The key things that help us draw closer to God in my opinion are:

  1. to listen to what He has to say, i.e by reading His word the Bible;
  2. to talk to Him through prayer;
  3. to spend time with other people who believe the same things as you.

In my opinion prayer can be the most difficult of the above three things. I suppose its because it can feel one sided rather than like having a normal conversation with two inputs.

If you find prayer difficult and want to know the best way to pray you are not alone. In fact the disciples of Jesus asked him this very question. In response Jesus gave them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6 vs 9-13)

However a mere repetition of this prayer once a day is probably not what Jesus had in mind. What he was showing the disciples was the kind of things they should pray for in order of priority.

Based on this I would therefore suggest that it may be useful to follow this structure for a prayer:

  • Praise God
  • Ask that the kingdom of God on earth will come very soon i.e. The second coming of Jesus
  • Thank God for your everyday blessings
  • Ask for forgiveness of your sins
  • Ask God to guide your actions in the coming day to do things which are pleasing in his sight

Note that nowhere in this prayer is there a section for asking for what you want! I don’t think this means that we shouldn’t ask God for anything but I do think it means that our requests are less important than the above points, and that we should recognize that fact.  We are acknowledging that any answer to our requests will be in accordance with God’s will.

God does want us to discuss our problems with him. Of course he knows what we are about to say before we ask but he wants us to personally set our lives before him:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7 vs 7-8)

 If you pray regularly you will find that when you look back over your life you can see His hand at work guiding you, and that gives us the faith to know that He will always be guiding us whatever we do:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23)

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