“Okay, I don’t know how to pray. I should know and I should be praying, but I’m not. Embarrassing, but that’s the truth. How exactly should I do it? Give me a step-by-step, and don’t leave anything out, LOL!” So that’s the message welcoming me to Facebook yesterday. Gotta love the honesty, huh? Leeann’s like that, fearless in her pursuit of God. No one in her family believes, and she reminds me that not everyone learned to pray in preschool. Not everyone heard Grandma’s blessing over hot biscuits. Or a deacon’s long-winded Sunday benediction.
First, I directed her to Jesus’ explanation in Matthew 6:5-13. That’s Basic Prayer 101, right? But then she wanted to get personal. How do I pray? What kinds of “stuff” do I say to Almighty God? Thus, the Facebook reply below:
Praying is simpler than we think. God already knows our thoughts, so whatever we say is no surprise. Doing it, though, reminds us of who’s in charge and where we place our trust. So how do you get the prayer ball rolling? Just start speaking with Him, either out loud or in your head. Use your own words; don’t try to “fancy” it up. Here are some things I focus on when chatting with my Father in Heaven:
P= Praise. Tell God how wonderful He is and express gratitude for good things. For me, the beauty of creation usually comes up, as well as words like loving, forgiving, and all-knowing. Sometimes I “park” here for awhile and concentrate so much on God’s awesomeness that my “big” problems suddenly seem smaller! (For an example of praise, see Psalm 100.)
R= Repent. Make things right with God. Be honest, and think about any selfishness, pride, or rebellion that may be hanging around. This is uncomfortable, but it’s important to ask forgiveness and to desire change. Showing sincere remorse for breaking God’s heart is the first step to obedience. Goodbye, shame. Hello, healing! (For an example of repentance, see Psalm 51.)
A= Ask. Share your requests, starting with concerns for those who don’t know God. Think about issues in your home, community, and world. Pray for strength as you love and encourage others. If you struggle, then ask for help. He can renew faith during trials, forgiveness for enemies, or wisdom for decisions. As the Bible says, just ask! (For an example of asking, see Psalm 86.)
Y=Yield. Let God know you are placing any worries at His feet. (Then do it.) Oh, and even if it’s difficult to say, assure God that wherever His path leads, you will gladly walk it. Complete trust. Not for the feint of heart, huh? If you aren’t 100% there yet, then admit this, too. Remember, it’s all about honest conversation. (For an example of yielding, see Psalm 23.)
Sometimes I take passages from the Bible and say them as my own prayers to God. Other times, I write them in a journal, starting with “Dear Father” and ending with my signature. One of my favorites is Psalm 63. Maybe a portion of this chapter could start your own conversation today:
O God, you are my God; I will seek you earnestly; My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water: Thus I have seen you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory. Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live: I will lift up my hands in your name.
Your it-ain’t-fancy-but-it’s-sincere praying sister. 🙂