Yesterday, we began a journey to deepen our communication with God. I don’t think we really know how near and dear this is to God’s heart, too. We looked at what is prayer, plus when and where should we pray. Today we’ll explore Why should I pray, What should we say in prayer, and How should I pray.
Why should I pray?
Look at the second definition of prayer. It says prayer is an act of communion with God. It is not just talking for the sake of talking … not just reciting our laundry list of requests … it is spending time with our Heavenly Father… who loves us and delights in His children.
Have you ever had “communion” with friends with very colorful language and rough mannerisms? Soon you are using the same words … picking up the same attitudes … and so on. When we spend time with our Heavenly Father, His character starts to rub off on us. Our talk changes… our attitudes change … our likes and dislikes change… and so on. We start to really KNOW Him… like He knows us.
What should we say in prayer?
Psalm 100:4 says “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise!” This is a great place to start. We have so much to be thankful for, and He more than deserves praise and worship. This also helps get our minds off our “light and momentary troubles” (I Corinthians 4:17) and onto Him. Acknowledge His greatness … and His goodness … and His holiness. Give Him thanks for all our blessings… and for what He’s doing with stuff we don’t yet see as blessings.
Romans 8:26-28 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
We are all familiar with the phrase “all things work together for good” and it comes from this passage. But look at the context here. When we pray… when we ask the Holy Spirit to help us pray … when we pray in line with God’s will … when we give the situation to God – THEN all things work together for good. Then God takes the tests and turns them into testimonies.
Romans 8:31-34 (NLT) What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) … So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. …
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, God is not mad at us. We are not under condemnation. We can go to him confidently and boldly.
Have you ever wondered what Jesus and Holy Spirit are praying? One thing they are NOT doing is complaining about the situations you are currently in. Nor are they stressing about all the junk going on, wondering just what to do about it. They are agreeing with one another and Father God about you, how much they love you, what they have promised to do for you, what blessings they have for you, what they want you to learn about next, etc.
So, when we pray, it is a good idea to agree with what God says. Yes, we can tell him our needs. He knows already, but He says to bring our petitions and needs to Him. But it is also important to agree with Him, thanking Him for His promises, His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision, His healing, etc. We may not see the whole picture, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is good and loving… and always keeps his promises. Find promises that pertain to your needs. For example, if you are praying for your children, you can pray Isaiah 54:13, “All your children will be taught of the Lord, and great will be their peace.” If you think you can’t handle a situation, you can pray Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If you are feeling alone, you can rest because God has promised, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Remember…
God is Good – all the time…
and all the time – God is Good.
How should I pray?
He said to them, “When you pray, say…”
So often I have been praying “in my head”, and the next thing my mind has wandered to who knows where – usually “meditating” on the problem, my fears, my busy-ness…. Or I’m asleep. So… SAY. Pray aloud whenever possible. (I’m still working on this.) This can be at whatever volume you like … even a whisper. You can even scream at God. He can take it. Just don’t stop there. Continue into thanking Him and praising Him for Who He is. That is soooooo important. Many of the Psalms start with David telling God what is wrong and that it looks like God is doing nothing about it! And then, David would use one of my favorite Bible words, “But”. Yes God, this is wrong, and that is wrong, and my enemies are doing stuff…. But God, You are holy and You are good and I will trust You!
Would you like it if your kids only talked to you when they wanted something? Or only had a relationship with you based on what you gave them or did for them? Or would you like it when they don’t share their hopes and dreams and problems with you? I don’t think so. Well, God wants conversation with us, too. He cares about every aspect of our lives. Nothing is too big… or too small. Even when we are in a rotten situation, we can thank and praise God for Who He is …even if we don’t like what it looks like He is doing… or not doing.
Years ago I was complaining to a friend that I could not hear God. She asked, “What is the first thing that pops into your mind after you ask God something?” All I could say was “Who knows? My thoughts don’t take numbers!” I started writing down my prayers, or at least notes on what I was praying. Then I would “listen” and write down my thoughts. I’ve found that it slows down and un-jumbles my thoughts. I am less like “Ricochet Rabbit” and more focused.
So, try it. After writing your prayers (and thanksgivings), listen. Good conversations are two-way. Write the thoughts going through your mind… or your feelings. It “sounds” like your voice, your thoughts, but the content of “your thoughts” … the hope, the peace, the love … even answers to questions — is beyond you. (Usually, I know that I’m not that smart.) It may be only a few words, or the feeling that God is happy to be spending time with you… or that He loves you… or loves whomever you are praying for… or something else. This is so precious. I often go back and read my journal entries, and make note of answered prayers. Love it!
- Do you ever feel the need to withdraw? What do you do? Where do you go?
- Do you pray quietly? In your head? Out loud?
- Does your mind wander in prayer? Do you ever run out of words?
- Do you journal?
- Do you pray about the “little stuff”?
- Are you aware of any answered prayers?
Jesus, like the disciples, I ask that You teach me to pray. If You needed to pray, I certainly do. Holy Spirit, I really need Your help here. Not only do I not always know what to pray, but I even have trouble remembering to pray. Please help me find my “quiet place” and my “quiet time.” You have said that You are my Helper, so I am really counting on Your help. I thank You in advance for all the help You will give me… and already are giving me. Oh, and Lord… please help me learn to hear Your heart… to know Your voice, just like a lamb knows the shepherd’s voice. Thank You.