Use the Lord’s Prayer for what it was intended – to teach Jesus’ disciples how to pray. Looking at this diagram:
- Ponder who the Father is and what He does
- Take time each day to choose one of these parts of the prayer and circle your prayers around your chosen topic.
The idea of figuring out HOW to pray for many is tough and seems odd at first. We want you to know that this is normal and okay. You are not being judged, nor are your prayers being judged by quality or length. In fact scripture tells us: the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27. The best advice for how to start a prayer life is JUST DO IT. The Holy Spirit will lead and intercede. With this in mind we find the following steps very helpful:
How Do You Pray?
So let’s deal with the practical stuff.
What position should I be in to pray?
You can bow, kneel, stand or walk around when you pray. God will hear you whatever you do, so choose a position that helps you focus.
Kneeling, or bowing your head, is a great way to focus your body and your mind on God. It’s also a way to show how much you respect His authority.
What should I say?
Start by addressing God directly in a way that acknowledges the uniqueness of who He is.
People will say things like, “Father God,” “Heavenly Father” or “Almighty God.” How you choose to address Him will remind you and anyone you might be praying with about who you are talking to and what He represents in your life.
Do I pray to God the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
This is completely up to you. Choose one or try praying to each member of the Trinity at different times, because they are all listening to you. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God living within you. So you can address Him directly with confidence that He is as close as He could be.
Find out more about how to understand the Holy Spirit’s role in your life.
Should I pray out loud?
Depending on how comfortable you feel or what kind of situation you are in, you will choose whether to pray out loud or silently. Over time, you will likely grow in your confidence praying out loud.
If you are praying for someone who is physically present with you, it might encourage them to hear your faith expressed through your prayers. But if you find praying silently allows you to focus more on God than on someone you might be praying with, go for it.
The one time most of us need to stop talking is when we are trying to listen to God. You will find it harder to hear what He is saying if you are doing all the talking.
When and where do I pray?
Anytime and anywhere can work, but it’s good to find a distraction-free time and place if possible. God deserves your focused attention, and you might find it harder to listen to Him in a busy place.
Some people create a space in their homes for this purpose, like a prayer closet. Others will choose a favorite park to take time out with God, or even a coffee shop.
How do I end a prayer?
A common way to end a prayer is by saying something like, “In the name of Jesus, amen.”
But why is this?
Well, think about how you began your prayer by addressing God directly, by name. This is important because it acknowledges that God is more than a force, more than an unnamed higher power or an idea.
God is a person choosing to be present in your life. Most importantly, He is the only person with the authority and ability to answer your prayers.
This common conclusion is a reminder of who this God is.
Whatever you choose to say can also act as a reminder that you believe God has heard your prayers and that you trust Him to know how best to answer them.
If you’re the kind of person who starts talking to God as you go about your day, you don’t need to wrap up every communication with a formal ending for God to take you seriously. God is a Father who loves His children to talk to Him as much as possible.
- This ultimately takes practice. We live in such a fast-paced and loud world that we often don’t have the time or need to hear from God until life is REALLY bad or we NEED something. Hearing from God is not about using Him as a genie in a bottle that we rub when we need to hear from Him. In fact, many people turn from God because they don’t hear from Him in the hard moments and take that as Him not caring or don’t doing what they expect. Hearing God takes the following steps:
- Create space to listen. This means being intentional to carve out the time.
- Patience. When hearing from God it’s not on our timetable but His.
- Perspective. You’re not God. You don’t get to demand He speaks. Instead come with a humble perspective, ready, but knowing it’s God who is God not you.
- Familiarity. You have the very words of God available to you. Read His word regularly (preferably daily.) Become familiar with His voice. Like a sheep listening for his/her shepherd’s voice, recognize that voice in the green pastures so that you can hear it when you are lost in the woods.
- We highly recommend reading the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard on this topic.