Tag Archives: how to pray
The Bible tells us that the LORD is close to all who call on Him in truth. This verse speaks of prayers that are made in truth—or sincerely, with an upright heart. This speaks about prayers that are made by someone who is trusting in God, waiting upon Him for the answer.
So many people tell us how to pray and it can complicate something that is supposed to be simple. He promises, “You will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12 NLT). He says, “Call to Me and I will answer” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT). What blocks you from calling on Him and speaking what is on your heart?
Don’t overcomplicate prayer. Don’t neglect to pray because you think you won’t do it right. Pour out your heart—your real heart. There’s no need to insert fancy words or tell Him what you think He wants to hear. Speak boldly. Speak the truth. Reveal what is on your heart. Trust that He will answer. Wait for the answer. This is calling in truth.
“The LORD is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 [NLT]
One of the easiest things to do is pray. We make it complicated. I often consider how my prayers have changed since I was little. When I was a little child, I remember the simplicity of my prayers. I was praying what was on my heart. I was pouring out my heart to God. I believed that He heard. I believed that He would answer. I didn’t try to use grand words, nor did I think a lot to attempt to say what would be good to include in a prayer. I didn’t have instructions on how to pray. I spoke to God. It was simple. And I knew He heard.
As I got older, I started to hear people pray using such perfect words. It was like poetry. The prayers they offered seemed to be exactly what I should pray. It sounded good. So I wanted to try to pray like that—I wanted to pray the way these people prayed. I thought that was the way God wanted me to pray. Oh, how long it took to realize that my lips were speaking a different language than my heart.
I have changed the way I prayed a lot over these past years. I am starting to follow the lead of this little girl I used to know—someone who has grown, but still has a lot to unlearn about prayer. One thing that hasn’t changed is my confidence that the Lord will answer my prayers. I know that when I pray what is on my heart, when I lift my heart to Him, He will answer. He is faithful. Today, give Him your heart. Don’t pray the prayer of someone else. Pray what is on your heart. Lay everything before Him. He will hear. He will answer.
“The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer.” – Psalm 6:9 [NLT]
Today was the big Cross Country Invitational. The event included eighteen high school teams. I am always excited when the events are nearby so I can attend and watch my daughter run. I ran back and forth taking photos. This is something Cross Country parents can appreciate. When I stood at the finish line, I saw my daughter quickly approaching. All of the sudden she fell on her knees. I prayed quietly for her as she was on her knees with her face toward the ground. It looked like she was praying. She was pouring herself out, but not just in prayer. Only a runner or a parent of a runner can understand. I wanted to run to her, but I knew what she was doing, and I knew I couldn’t touch her or she would be disqualified.
My daughter got up from her knees and finished the race, even PRed (this means she beat her personal record). As I drove home with my camera fully loaded with photos, I considered my daughter on her knees, pouring out of herself. It reminded me of a moment of prayer from the Bible that I continue to be reminded of again and again. Hezekiah received a letter that disturbed him. He took it to the Temple of the Lord and spread it out. He spread the letter out before the Lord. What an awesome example of how we should pray. When my daughter fell down on her knees with her head facing the ground it reminded me of Hezekiah’s actions.
We don’t need to always fall on our knees. Prayer is a heart action. As I quietly prayed for my daughter while she was on her knees, that prayer was heard too. Nonetheless, there’s something special about falling on your knees. You are saying God is High. You are saying He alone is in control. You are saying you trust Him. You are fully surrendering to Him. You are worshiping Him and seeking His will in the situation. Yes, there is something special about falling on your knees.
“After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD.” – 2 Kings 19:14 [NLT]
We never pray enough. I write and preach so often about prayer because the Spirit continues to show me that we never pray enough. I know I’m guilty of not praying enough. I consider Brother Lawrence and how he would talk to God during the day. It was so natural. Why do I, why do we, pray so unnaturally? Why do we get so caught up with trying to pray properly, instead of simply investing in our relationship with Jesus? Why do we find prayer awkward? Why do we push off prayer? It doesn’t make any sense.
The Bible tells us that God is our Father. He is the one and only Father. We can cry out to Him, “Abba Father,” just like Jesus. This is like crying out “Daddy.” But instead we put up walls. We don’t approach Him like a Father. Do we not see Him as a Father? Do we have “daddy issues” that keep us from understanding the role of a father?
The Bible also tells us that God is our friend. Our friend. Now that is hard to consider. A friend is someone you can talk to about anything. A friend is someone you can speak freely with and just have fun. You don’t hold back with your friends.
If you can grasp that God is your Father and God is your friend—that He is your friendly Father—then you are a ready for what is necessary for your relationship with God. To do life with God, you need to speak with your friendly Father. You need to open up to Him, to approach continually through the day, to include Him in your life. Speak to Him when you rise. Speak to Him as you brush your teeth. Speak to Him as you have your meal. Speak to Him as you drive your car. Speak to Him while at work. Speak freely. No need for “art” and “thou.” You can honor Him as holy as you speak freely. He wants your heart, not a fake and stuffy presentation. He wants a relationship with YOU. The real you. Pray today to your friendly Father.
“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” – John 15:15 [NLT]
Jeremiah gives us a great picture of what prayer should be like for us. In Lamentations 2, he tells us to pour out our hearts to the Lord—and this would be seen as pouring out like water. What a great image! When you empty a container of water, like when you dump a bucket of water outside after cleaning the floors, it all just pours out. There is no holding back.
This is the same way we are to pour ourselves out to the Lord. He already knows what is on our hearts. It is the effort of the pouring, the action of the pouring it out to Him, that matters. He wants us to say, “Here, take this. I don’t want this in my hands. I’m placing this in Your hands. You are in control. I trust You.” It’s about letting go of everything and trusting in Him.
Today, consider if you are holding anything back from Him. What’s on your heart? Have you poured it out to Him? Have you placed it in His hands? Are you only giving Him a short prayer list, neglecting what is truly on your heart? There’s nothing too small and nothing too big to give to the Lord. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord today.
“Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.” – Lamentations 2:19 [NLT]
We can never pray enough. Paul notes in in his letter to Timothy, that we need to be sure that we do not limit our prayers. We are “to pray for all people.” That is a great command. Pray for all people. This means we don’t just pray for your family and friends. We don’t just pray for our church family. We don’t only pray for those we want to lift up in prayer. We pray for all people.
Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. This is something that can help us to be more like Christ. While praying for our enemies, we are interceding on their behalf. Doing this opens our heart for the Spirit to help us forgive and heal. The verse in the letter to Timothy doesn’t only ask that we pray for all people. The letter continues that we “give thanks for them.” We are to give thanks for all people. Is this something you feel like doing? Do you thank God for the person who drives you crazy?
Understand that we are asked to do these things because it helps us to grow more Christ like. Often we think the prayers we pour out to God are to change others. The truth is the prayers often are to change us. Today, pray for all people. Intercede on their behalf. Give thanks for them. Be ready for God to respond in a mighty way!
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” – 1 Timothy 2:1 [NLT]
When we approach God in prayer, we are to approach with humility but we also are to approach with bold confidence. When praying, it should not be reciting a list of what we think we are supposed to say. When praying, we should not be following some tradition without our heart saying what our lips say. There are many people who pray but do not even believe the prayer will be answered.
In Acts 12, we read of an “earnest prayer” that was made for Peter to be released from prison (v. 5). Peter was sleeping bound in chains between soldiers but an angel led him to freedom. He went to the house of Mary (John Mark’s mother) where they were gathered in prayer. He knocked and Rhoda came to the door. When she told everyone that Peter was standing outside, they called her “crazy” (v. 16).
The Roman Centurion in Luke 7 approaches Jesus with bold confidence. He realized that he was unworthy to have Jesus follow him to his home, but he believed that Jesus could heal his servant by just speaking. He said, “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7 NLT). Just say the word. He had faith in the power of Jesus. He had faith that Jesus could speak and it could happen. Jesus commended his faith as faith that He had not seen in all of Israel.
If you are not confident in your prayer life, pray for help. In Mark 9, there is a son who was possessed by a spirit. He was mute and the spirit would cause him to get thrown down, to foam at the mouth and grind his teeth. The disciples were unable to cast out the demon. Jesus told the man, “All things are possible for one who believes” (v. 22). The man replied, “I believe; help my unbelief” (v. 24).
Today I encourage you to boldly approach the throne of God. Pour out your heart in confidence. Boldly claim the Word of God by speaking the Word in your prayer. Claim it for your own. Pray for the Spirit to reveal any unbelief. If you are dealing with something that is limiting your prayer life or not allowing God to move in an area, speak these words – “I believe; help my unbelief.”
Prayer is often overcomplicated. There are so many books, sermons, and seminars telling people how to pray. Over the years I have heard numerous people say that they “don’t know how to pray” or that they think they are “praying wrong.” Some people are closed off when they approach God, despite the truth that God knows what is on each one of our hearts before we even approach Him. Some people stick to a form list or follow the same structure taught to them many moons ago so it is a routine. This is not what we read about when we look at Hannah’s approach.
In 1 Samuel 1, we read of Hannah praying to the Lord for a son. She was “deeply distressed.” She “wept bitterly” (v. 10). She was open. She was vulnerable. She laid it all out before the Lord. She did not follow a particular structure. She did not try to “do it right.” She wasn’t afraid of people seeing her deep in prayer. It was her and God. She truly was coming before the Lord. I can only imagine how she appeared. Eli the priest thought she was drunk.
When she responded to Eli, she said, “I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD” (v. 15). Today consider when you last poured out your soul before the Lord? Do you approach Him with what is truly on your heart or what you think you are supposed to say? Do you approach Him in a way that fits in a box, follows a list, or do you freely fall before Him and speak from your heart? Do you hold back or do you lay it all before Him? He cares what’s on your heart. He wants you to pour out your soul. No holding back. Give it all to Him.
“But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD.’” – 1 Samuel 1:15 [ESV]
It was early morning and I had broken sleep. I had not had my morning cup of coffee and I was walking not one, but two dogs, as Max was joined with his pal Marci. I felt like I was sleepwalking through the first half mile. I looked forward and saw a man in the distance sitting on a lawn chair. He looked jaundice. I immediately began to pray for him. As I got closer I realized he was just bald and he was wearing a yellow shirt. It was highly unlikely that he had jaundice. Then I said, “Lord, you’re probably laughing at me. I know I would.”
It was a good morning laugh. I was so quick to pray for the man and it was for something not relevant; however, I’m sure that God answered my prayer. The point that I want to highlight is the fact that I instantly prayed for the person. I don’t always do that but it is the best thing to do when we know of someone who is in need of prayer. When someone asks you to pray for them, do it right away. It does not matter where you are at or who you are around or what you are doing.
Prayer lists are great. I have one. Having a set time of the day when you connect with God in prayer is great as well. But there should always be this open door policy throughout your day where there’s no list, there’s no set time, there’s just you and God. When you are driving in your car and you see someone in need of prayer, pray for them. When you are on your work break and just saw someone post something on Facebook that shows a need, pray for them. Right then and there. Sometimes we put the list together and lose it. Sometimes we plan to take that list to our bedroom and pray before bed but we fall asleep with only good intentions that failed. You will feel better if you pray right away and at the same time, you will know that you took it to God first. It is always best in His hands.
“I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!” – Psalm 116:1-2 [NLT]
I recently watched the movie ‘Gravity’ with Sandra Bullock. There was a moment in the movie when Sandra’s character was in real trouble. Much of the movie found her character trying to make her way back to Earth despite catastrophe after catastrophe, hardship after setback. At this point in the movie, it appeared as if all hope was gone. Sandra’s character says something like, “I’d pray but no one every taught me how.” When I heard that I couldn’t help but consider those who don’t pray because they think they do not know how to pray or that they need to be taught by someone how to pray.
When I was a little girl my grandma introduced me to Jesus. I spent many years of my life speaking to Jesus. I included Him in my life just as He wants to be included. I gave Him my everything. I had long winded conversations. I talked about anything and everything. He was a part of my life. Years later things changed. I’m not sure how it all changed but things were very different. People made me think that my prayers were not right. I had to say them a certain way. I had to be in a certain position. I had to speak particular words. When I followed their instructions I did not feel like I was speaking to God, as I did as a child. It was very different.
God wants you to speak with Him, to pour out your heart. The Bible talks about a child-like faith and I think when I look back on my conversations with God as a child, He enjoyed those talks a lot more than me stammering around trying to fulfill what was prim and proper by the world’s standards. When I was a child I prayed. When I got older, I was taught “how to pray.” I spent years having to learn to not do what I later did. Don’t allow something or someone be a stumbling block to God. He wants you to speak. You. Just you. It doesn’t matter how you come. It is your heart that matters. In the movie, the characters flew all around with ease because of gravity. Imagine if your prayer life could feel at ease too. Imagine if you could just be you with God. How freeing is that? How beautiful is that?
“The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 [NLT]