Prayer is not something that comes naturally to me. It can feel like I’m just talking to myself and it’s awkward and just empty, with no meaning. If we are being honest, because of this, I often simply forget to pray or intentionally just skip it. I read my Bible and I meditate on his word, but I don’t initiate conversation. The Bible talks about God knowing us and us knowing God (John 10:14). How do you get to know someone? By reading a book they wrote or by talking with them and having a meaningful conversation? Hint: its the latter.
Prayer is meant to be an “intimate soul conversation” with Christ. In my study composing this post and working to learn how to pray on my own, this word intimate seemed to come up a lot. On almost every page I visited, every commentary I listened to, prayer was referred to as intimate. What does it mean for something to be intimate? Well, the definition of intimate is “closely acquainted; familiar, close” or “private and personal”. Having this conversation requires you to be vulnerable with him, expressing sincerity and humility as you let Him know what is on your heart, communicate gratitude, and make your requests known to Him.
Allow prayer to touch the part of you that is uncertain, full of questions and doubt. Pray with purpose. Reach out to Him and let Him touch your heart. Do not give up on Him because He has not given up on you. You will find God when you pray deeply and search for Him with your whole heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Keep the line of communication open and don’t ever stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
What to pray for
Figuring out what to pray for and how to word it can be a daunting task. In a world with so much darkness and so many people in need, you may struggle with guilt from praying for selfish needs and desires. Let me tell you a little something…God cares about your test anxiety just as much as He cares about the soldier behind enemy lines. We have an awesome God who had the power to create this entire planet in just six days. He created you in His perfect image and cares for you more than you can comprehend. He has time for you. He has the energy to listen to you. He has the power to move mountains for you, big or small. Pray earnestly from your heart for whatever it is you need, thank Him for the blessings in your life, and ask that He forgive your sins. To make it even easier, let’s break it down:
Prayer skeleton: ACTS acronym
Reflect on His greatness! Should be easy enough…just look around you and see the miracles He performs every single day. Look in the news for uplifting stories. If you’re in the healthcare field like me, look at your patients! Look outside at the earth and how it is able to sustain itself by His work. Look at our past and the influential people he sent to change and shape the world. Read your Bible and reflect on the miracles Jesus Christ was able to perform here on earth directly!
This one may be a little harder. It isn’t easy admitting when you’re wrong and asking for forgiveness. It isn’t easy to know you have failed, intentionally or unintentionally. Ask for His forgiveness of your sins and that He may know your heart and guide you to avoid making the same sins over and over.
Thank the Lord for the blessings He has given you in your life. Thank Him for the opportunities He puts in your way, your friends and family, and the obstacles He presents you with to challenge Him.
Let your requests be known to God. Come to Him earnestly and humbly ask Him what you need of Him. Let Him know of your dreams and goals, ask Him for your needs and desires, and pray that Him will be done and He present you with these things in His perfect timing. Trust that what you ask of Him, He hears (1 John 5:14).
An example from the Man upstairs
So what about when we are praying but we just can’t seem to feel the connection or when we feel so broken, we simply can’t form the words and do not know what to say? Follow His example. In Matthew 6: 5-15, Jesus talks about how to pray. He instructs to go into private, close the door, and be with God. He says God knows the things you need before you even ask. He urges you to be present and pray from the heart rather than uttering meaningless repetitions of words and he concludes this section with the Lord’s Prayer.
Furthermore, God offers us prayers already written in His word for when you can’t find the words. The Bible is full of men and women praying from their hearts over their troubles and worshiping Him with praise of thanks. Pray from His word with these pre-scripted prayers from the book of Psalms:
- Troubled soul → Psalm 6
- Joy → Psalm 30
- Revival → Psalm 85
- Praise → Psalm 66
- Help → Psalm 109
- Pray simply | You don’t have to beat a dead horse coming up with the perfect way to word things and repeat things over and over. God hears you. He knows your heart and He isn’t worried about the nitty gritty little mess-ups in your prayer. Be real and don’t make it harder than it should be.
- It’s not a one-way conversation | Allow God to respond to you through His word. Trust that He will give you answers through your Bible studies.
- Make it a habit | It takes 21 days to start a habit. Make it a part of your morning and evening routine. Fit time in your schedule to sit down and meditate on His word. Download an app with a Bible study and use the streak to motivate you. Set reminders on your phone to sit down and pray to God each day.
- Pray expectantly | The law of attraction is widely known as visualization turned reality. Why not use that same idea in your prayer. When making your requests known to God, imagine how it will be when you receive those things. Imagine how it will affect you, what you will do, and how it will feel. Come boldly to the Lord and receive His gift of mercy and His grace when you are in need (Hebrews 4:16).
- Trust in His timing | God’s promise to bless those who follow Him, but He doesn’t tell you when. Trust that He has a plan and His plan is greater than any plan you could make up for yourself. Persist in your prayer and wait for his blessing (Colossians 4:2).
- Personalize your prayer habits | Use your environment to set you in a place to talk with Christ. Use music or silence, light a candle or diffuse some essential oils, sit cross-legged or kneel – find what makes your comfortable and pray in a way that makes you comfortable to open up.
There is no one judging your praying. Your prayers are your time to be close with God. It is your time to be vulnerable and intimate with Him – to show Him your heart and you brokenness, to confess your sins and to praise His blessings in your life. So sit down, have a chat, and see how prayer can change your life.