There really is no right way to pray. Prayer is not a magic formula that you have to say just right to get what you want. Prayer is conversation with God. In prayer we talk to God like we are talking to a friend.
It sounds so easy. Still many of us don’t feel confident praying, especially praying out loud. We hear someone else’s prayer or the prayers on Sunday morning and think that our own prayers are never as good.
You know, Jesus disciples asked him the same question in Luke 11:1 They had seen him spend time in prayer, and heard him pray. Talk about being intimidated by someone else’ prayer! Imagine hearing Jesus pray. No wonder they wanted to learn how to pray like him!
Jesus responded by teaching them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4, and in Matthew 6:9-13). That’s a great place to start learning how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer covers everything we do when we pray – praise God, ask for God’s will to be done, ask for what we need, ask for forgiveness and for help to forgive, ask for God’s help to resist temptation and for God’s protection from the evil out there.
Another great place to learn how to pray is in the Psalms. The Psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. There’s a prayer for every human emotion from joy to despair. Find a psalm that you like and pray it, verse by verse.
Some people feel more comfortable using written prayers, like the prayers in a hymnal, or a book of prayers, or even praying a hymn. And that’s perfectly fine. That’s exactly what those prayers are for –to give you words at times when you can’t find words of your own.
The prayers on Sunday also teach us ways to pray. The easiest example of this is when we pray for the sick or those in need – think about how often when the pastor is praying for the sick, someone comes to mind that could use prayer. Go ahead – silently (or out loud, if your church does that) name that person to God.
Sometimes, you might feel like just talking to God like you do a friend. That's the simplest, and often the best, way to pray. Just state what's on your heart - just like you would to your best friend.
It really doesn’t take a lot of words to pray. Sometimes, your prayer can be really simple – “help me, God.” Or just naming a person or situation in prayer. Or even a simple “Lord, have mercy” or “Thank you, God” or, “I love you, Jesus.”
And there are times when you want to pray, but have no words. Times when you go to God and no words come – the pain is too deep, the grief too fresh, or the situation overwhelming. It’s ok – God knows what’s on your heart. Paul teaches that in those moments, the Spirit prays for you, “with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26-27).
Paul also teaches in his first letter to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:15).” Can you really pray all the time, anywhere you happen to be?
Yes. Anywhere and everywhere. Any time and at all times. Standing, sitting, kneeling. Lying on your bed, driving a car, in church or at home. If we talk to God as we talk to friends, then think of prayer as your cell phone to God – you can pray anywhere you could use a cell phone. In fact, you can pray in places where cell phones aren’t allowed.
"What's the right way to pray?" Pretty much, any way you pray is fine with God. The important thing is that you pray.
So, let us pray…