How To Approach Prayer
In Luke 11:1, one of the disciples petitioned, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Many people have the same plea today. Prayer appears to be something complicated, but it does not have to be. Some may think that you have to use certain phrases during your prayer time or repeat what you have heard your pastor say from the pulpit. However, God just wants to hear our heart. One definition in Merriam-Webster defines prayer as “an earnest request or wish.” For me, prayer is simply an opportunity for us to thank God for his many blessings, petition Him to intervene in our lives, and praise Him for his glory and faithfulness. My hope is to share my heart on some fundamentals as it relates to prayer. May you be edified and God glorified.
For starters, our attitude and mindset towards prayer is important. Ask yourself: Do you believe God is listening when you pray? Proverbs 15:29 clearly addresses the truth of this question. God hears the prayers of the righteous. We must remind ourselves of this truth when the enemy or other people may try to convince us that we are just “talking to the wind.” We may have to even encourage ourselves of this truth when we are facing a situation that seems impossible and baffles us. Let’s say it ALOUD: God hears the prayers of the righteous.
Now that our foundation is set on that truth, we must address our heart when entering into prayer. In Mark 11:23-25, Jesus encouraged the disciples that as long as they did not have any doubt in their heart they could pray for anything and they could receive it. Now let’s be clear, this is not an ALL ACCESS PASS to have whatever our little heart desires. One thing that I remind myself of when I pray, “How will God get the glory out of this answered prayer?” When I ask myself this question, my focus is Christ-centered and not self-centered. This is also supported in scripture when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36). Jesus also addresses having unforgiveness in our hearts while praying. Carrying an offense against someone else in our hearts can hinder the power of God’s forgiveness in our lives. We have to lay the hurt aside and receive the love of God. Our love for people is a direct reflection of our love for God and the truth of his Word (I John 4:20-21). God desires to be in intimate relationship with each of us. See, the God of the Universe redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made sin for us. When God redeemed us that brought us into right fellowship with Him. So who are we to hold unforgiveness in our hearts to someone who may have offended us. Ultimately letting that sin go frees us to live for Christ.
Once your heart is clear of unforgiveness and open to the power of faith in God, you can begin to pray. While I cannot direct you in what exact words to say, I can help to guide you into a common structure for prayer. First, open up your prayer with thanksgiving to God for all the things He has done for you. If you have a hard time thinking of something to thank God for, just think you are alive and breathing, some people cannot say the same. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his court with praise.” When you start off by thanking God for his goodness, it sets the tone of your prayer. It allows God to know that you have a grateful heart towards Him. You are also reminding yourself of the many great things that God has already done for you. Next, you can ask God for help regarding your situation. If you are praying for someone else, this is when you would ask God for wisdom regarding this person’s situation. When asking God to intervene into your situation, it may be helpful to look up scripture regarding the situation. Let’s look at an example: You may be dealing with a lot of stress at your job therefore asking God to give you peace, and to help you not to worry. One scripture that comes to mind that you can use, is Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Praying something as simple as “God give me your peace which others won’t be able to understand but I will be able to experience, so that I can move forward with my life stress free.” Using scripture in your prayers helps to keep your focus on what God has said about your situation in His word. In Romans 10:17, faith is stated to come by hearing God’s Word. So praying God’s word helps to build your faith in what God can do through your prayers. Concluding your prayer with praise for what God is going to do is also an act of faith. It shows that you believe in God’s Word and have no doubt (James 1:6).
With all that has been said the most important thing to keep in mind is the freedom that Christ has given us. He created us and knows our quirks and hang-ups. Don’t allow what you think about yourself to hold you back from praying. Remember God has already redeemed us so now we have to the freedom to live for him. Start communicating with God with heartfelt sincerity and He will receive it. He knows how to mature and grow us. Don’t allow the enemy to trick you into thinking you have to be perfect to begin praying or that there is ONE perfect way to pray. God just wants to talk to us as His children and for us to trust that He will work all things out for the good of His purpose in our lives (Romans 8:28)!
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