How to Pray and Why It Matters
Prayer can be a touchy subject. The idea that humans could speak to an omniscient being is an incredible belief system. Those who believe in God, like me, believe prayer is simply the communication that cultivates a relationship from a child to their father.
But does prayer actually work? Does this omniscient being intervene on behalf of humanity? Or is it just people comforting themselves with their own words?
These are a few of the many questions I have asked myself over the years, even as a believer in Jesus Christ. Growing up in a believing family, I understood that God cared about my soul, but I didn’t know that He cared about my day to day life as well. I figured God was going to do whatever He liked anyway, so I didn’t see the point of praying to Him.
However, for the last few months, I made a decision that I was going to pray every day. No matter what the outcome would be, I was going to ask God to be part of my whole life through prayer. This is what I’ve learned about prayer thus far.
Jesus instructed His disciples to pray in this way and there is a reason for it.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
- Know Who You are Praying To
Jesus came to the earth and died for our sins so we could have a relationship with the father through Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. When you pray, you are praying to the father who is in heaven. He is the one who created you, gave you life, and sent His son, Jesus, to cover the sins of those who believe in His name. All of this was and is so He could have a relationship with His creation, you.
Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
- Give God Honor
Thank Him for all the good things He has given you. It is easy to focus on the bad, but whatever it is you are thankful for, give honor to Him for them.
James 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
- Ask Within God’s Will
When Jesus was in the garden before being crucified, He prayed, not my will but your will be done (Matt. 26:39). God’s will is what’s best for your life, even if it doesn’t look like it is at the time. His kingdom is in you, so pray His will to be accomplished in you.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
- Ask for What You Need Today
It’s OK to ask for the physical things. God delights in giving you what you need. He wants you to depend on Him. As humans we have physical needs that must be met in order to survive. There are many occurrences in the scriptures of God providing clothes, food, and shelter along with other things for His people. You can be open and honest with Him.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
- Ask for Forgiveness
Jesus paid for your past, present and future sins on the cross. It is, however, still important to give your sins to God because sin is burdensome. You can cast your cares upon Jesus because He cares for you (1 Pet.5:7). Sin entangles us, so ask God to take your sin and wash you clean.
Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
- Forgive Those Who Have Sinned Against You
Jesus has forgiven you of your sins which gives you the power and strength to forgive those who have sinned against you. Forgiving them doesn’t mean what they did to you was right. The act of forgiveness frees you from the bondage of that sin so you can live freely in Jesus.
Colossians 3:13 “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
- Ask God to Lead You in Righteousness
This world is full of trials and suffering. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us, but we can be protected through prayer. The word righteous means “the quality or state of being morally correct and justifiable.” God wants to bless you but sometimes we go through hard times to be refined. Allow God to make you righteous on the journey He has planned for you, and you will have the abundant life.
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- Give Him Glory
God has the power to change any situation, but sometimes He uses the situation to change you. Give Him glory for what He has done and what He is about to do. The people expected a conquering king, but Jesus came as a servant savior. God might not give you what you expect, but He will give you what you need. Trust Him to make a way for you even if you don’t know what it is. Read His word and trust Him to provide for you, and when He does, praise Him.
Psalm 18:1-3 “I love you, Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.”
I hope this helps you as you begin your prayer journey.
What I’ve learned from this experience is to pray specifically. It is really cool to see God answer my prayer exactly how I prayed it. He does intervene in our lives because I have experienced it in my life the last few months. That is how I know God has heard me and answered me. He doesn’t always answer the way I want Him to, but I trust that He knows me, and my situation better than I ever will.
God loves you and prayer is how He communicates with you. Don’t be afraid to pray. The people who experience God say prayer only strengthens their belief in Him because, without sounding cliché, God answers prayers.