Prayer is talking to God. God wants to hear what is in our hearts. He wants us to talk to Him.
Sometimes people think that prayer is a magical formula to get whatever we want—that if we say certain words, kneel, or do certain things that God will answer us. The Bible disagrees. We don’t need to kneel or even close our eyes in order to talk to God. We don’t even need to use special words or formulas. It is a simple heartfelt conversation with God.
Why do some people fold their hands, close their eyes, and bow their head while others raise their hands and look to heaven? Doing these things helps people stay focused when they pray. The key is to do what makes you comfortable. For some, closing their eyes keeps us from being distracted by things going on around them and bowing their heads is a sign of respect. Others raise their hands in worship and look to heaven because that makes sense to them. Some people also like to kneel when they pray. Remember, you can pray no matter what you are doing.
God desires that you talk to Him throughout the day. Why? He wants to direct you in decisions, give you peace when you are scared, and provide you with strength to avoid sin. He also likes to receive your worship. You are His child and He wants to talk to you.
Did Jesus teach us how to pray? Jesus said, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" (Matthew 6:7-8). God doesn't care if you start with, “Heavenly Father” or “Hi God," or another phrase.
Here are some things the Bible instructs us to do when we pray:
Jesus gave us an example of prayer and we often call it The Lord’s Prayer. It can be a pattern for us. It is found in Luke 11 and Matthew 6 where Jesus said:
- Be confident. The Bible says that we don’t need to worry because we can pray about everything. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” We can share our requests with our loving Father.
- Be honest. God already knows what we are thinking, so we can be open and honest with Him (Matthew 6:6-7). He knows what you are struggling with, so discuss these things with Him. Understand that God knows what is best for us.
- Glorify God. God wants us to glorify Him in everything and that includes prayer (1 Corinthians 10:31). We can express our love, thankfulness, and worship to Him in prayer.
…“This is how you should pray: ‘Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.’”
Jesus wasn’t telling us to recite this prayer word-for-word every day. He was giving us an example of what to include in our prayers—worship to God, trust in God, confession of sin, and requests we want to make. We don’t have to include all those items each time we pray, but those are things we can include. Remember there is no magic formula.
Jesus also taught us to pray according to God’s will, not our own. What does this mean? It means that ultimately we want God to receive glory. When we understand that God knows best, we can trust His perfect plan.
So, how do I pray? Just talk to God and He will direct you.