Prayer is one of the most powerful and useful tools we have as Christians. Prayer is something we can do daily. It is the one thing in this life we can do that we don’t have to set a reminder for, we don’t have to make an appointment or wait for a package to do it. We can do it anytime, anywhere. But there are a lot of questions surrounding the idea of prayer. How do I pray? Why should I pray? What do I pray about? These questions are often asked and can be easily answered when we look at Scripture. So let’s dive in and receive some clear answers about prayer.
The question of “How do I pray?” is often answered in a strict fashion or a traditional fashion and there are many misconceptions about prayer. Prayer does not have to be done publicly and there is no need to even say it out loud. Jesus himself told us that being alone was actually the best way to do it (Matthew 6:6). There’s no certain way you have to pray either. You don’t have to fold your hands or close your eyes or be in a special place to pray. One can pray while they’re walking down a sidewalk. We might also think of prayer as something that is formal, that we have to talk a certain way or say certain things for God to hear us, but none of that is true either. Prayer is much more powerful and meaningful when you just talk to God like you were talking to a friend. A prayer can just be you talking to God about something that just happened or maybe you’re asking God for help. There is so much freedom with prayer and that is what makes it meaningful and impactful in our lives. Let’s dig a little deeper.
First and foremost, the reasons for praying are largely important and critical to our spiritual well-being. Since praying is our communication to God, it is not a one way street. Our thoughts don’t just float in space and they are not useless. God hears them and listens to our prayers. God tells us this in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” This is a beautiful passage for looking at the reasons for prayer. Prayer is us calling, talking to God and He will answer us. Not only will He answer but He will also tell us things not previously known to us. This could be the answer to a financial situation or an answer to a situation you have no idea how to get out of or what to do. Prayer is the step we take to get closer to God and the more we do it, the closer we become in our relationship with Him. When we pray we can ask God for help or ask Him to show us the way. We can give Him thanks and praise for all He has done for us. Prayer is a two-way street, we call to God and He answers. Jesus also tells us that when we ask for something in prayer and we believe, it will be done. Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” The answer, of course, may not always be what we think it should be or it may not even be given in the time period we would like it to be given. What we should realize is that whatever we ask for, we should ask that God’s will be done. Jesus is saying that if you ask for wisdom, if you ask for help or guidance, it will be given to you. We can be rest assured that if we believe God will answer our prayer, He will.
What to pray about is also another question many ask when wondering about prayer. Asking God for help or making a request is probably one of the most popular ways people use prayer. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 1 Peter 5:7 likewise says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” This life is hard and troublesome. We have lots of burdens and lots of things to think about while walking through life and praying about those things that trouble us is one of the best ways to deal with them. Giving them to God, letting God know you recognize He’s in control, will lighten your burden and your anxiety levels will decrease. Why? Because you’ve given them to God and trust that He will make the best out of every situation. It is much easier said than done, but when we let go and give our problems to God, the problems become much less significant in the grand scheme of life.
There is also another powerful aspect of prayer. When we pray and we’re not sure what to say or we don’t even know what to pray for, there is another force that is helping us. The Holy Spirit. Paul talks about this wonderful aspect of prayer in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” When we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit is interceding for us to the Father and expresses our thoughts and feelings that can’t be expressed through words. How powerful is that? When we are at our weakest point, the Spirit helps us and goes to the Father on our behalf and expresses our feelings that can’t be expressed with words. This does not mean, however, that we should not try to pray and just think “Well the Spirit will do it for me”, this is not an excuse for not having to pray. This is another blessing we have as being believers, that when we can’t even describe what we’re feeling, the Spirit helps us. This should give us all the more reason to want to pray.
In conclusion, prayer should not be something we think we “have” to do, rather it should be something we “want” to do. We should desire to talk with our heavenly Father and thank Him for all that He has done and ask Him for help when we need it. Whatever is on your heart, pray about it. Talk to God about whatever you or thinking or feeling. When we do this, we will become much closer to God in our relationship with Him.