Not Sure about Prayer? Here are 4 Tips on How to Pray:
1) Why Pray?
I used to doubt that God answers prayer. When I was ten years old, I prayed earnestly for a pony. We lived in Kansas City on a small city lot with prohibitive zoning laws. I wanted a pony, though, so I prayed for it. If God answers prayer, where’s my pony?
Childish question, of course. God is more practical than a ten-year-old. Since then, God has answered many of my prayers, sometimes in miraculous ways.
So look at it this way. If you don’t pray for something, God probably won’t help you. If you do pray for it, maybe He will. What have you got to lose?
2) Yes, you can pray.
A few years back, I taught a class on prayer to a group of women who came from several different denominations. One woman absolutely could not utter a word to God. “I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong,” she explained. “In my church, the prayers are beautifully written out. My words won’t sound anything like that.”
News flash! There’s no right or wrong way to pray! In the Bible, we read many different types of prayers. Some flow mellifluously and our churches often use them as benedictions. In the Psalms (which means “songs” by the way–the Israelites used to sing them) we find praise, anger, even depression: whatever the writer was feeling that day. Don’t think that you have to put on a cheerful face for God. He already knows what’s going on inside you. You might as well spit it out and get some relief.
Maybe you feel your problems are too picayune. You don’t want to bother God. Believe me, God has all eternity to listen to your concerns.
3) Praise Him anyway
And praise Him. There’s something about praise and thanksgiving that lifts our spirits. Somehow, just recognizing how powerful and caring God is reassures us and quickens our step.
Thank Him for what you have. Did you eat yesterday? Many people did not. Thank Him. Consider this: when you give someone a gift, you like to be thanked, don’t you? God wants the best for you, but if your prayers are just “give me, give me, give me,” maybe God would like to hear a little gratitude.
When I see a rainbow through the misty rain, or admire the mountain view going over the Pali, or look out over the Pacific while I’m riding a stationary bike at the gym, without volition, I breathe,”Thank You, Lord.”
4) Where, when?
I like to go out on my lanai (balcony) and look out at the Ko’olau Mountains beyond the Ala Wai Canal and the golf course. I settle my mind and relax. Automatically, the words come to my lips, “Praise You, Lord God!” That starts a pleasant communication between us.
On the other hand, my most common prayer is simply, “Help!” I say it when a car cuts too close in front of me, when arthritis cramps my foot, when I need a parking spot at the mall. In the Bible, I Thessalonians 3:15 says to “Pray without ceasing.”
So try it.
It’s impossible to say a prayer “wrong,” and you can be yourself; God knows all about you, inside and out. Give it a try.
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