Prayer, the act of conveying a message to God, can seem intimidating—and the thought of praying publicly can be almost paralyzing! It helps to remember that when you pray, you are addressing a God who loves you and wants to hear what you have to say.
Prayer is an opportunity to listen to God and share your thoughts with Him.
It’s not about bowing your head and closing your eyes, although that can be helpful if you’re easily distracted. You can pray silently or out loud; it’s up to you.
- Create Consistency
For most people, choosing a consistent time to pray each day is helpful. If you’re a morning person, take the first few moments of your day. If you have more time in the evening, allow yourself the freedom to slow down and talk to God then. If you like the outdoors, sit on your porch or take a walk. Praying isn’t limited to those moments. Praying while in the car, doing the dishes, or even walking your dog are all great opportunities to connect with God. You might wonder, “What do I pray about?” The answer is: anything you want.
2. Pray to the Father
Jesus models this in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father.” Certainly Jesus and the Holy Spirit are equal parts of the Trinity, but it’s the Father who is the authority and who we have a restored relationship with… because of His work through Jesus and the Holy Sprit. That is, while we pray to the Father, the other two members make it possible for us to do so. We pray to the Father, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Pray in Secret Sometimes and with Others Sometimes
Sometimes we pray privately, and sometimes we pray when others are around.
Praying with others one-on-one, in small groups, and in larger gatherings can also strengthen our prayer practice. “For where two or three gather in my name,” Jesus said, “there am I with them.”
Hearing the prayers of fellow followers of Jesus (and joining our prayers with theirs) is an encouraging, instructive, and powerful experience. We learn by imitating others. If you are hesitant to pray aloud, just pray along silently. You’ll learn by listening!
The great trouble with praying out loud is that if we are not careful, it can get us in the habit of praying eloquently, instead of authentically.
Dr. Howard Hendricks, one of the all-time great seminary professors gives a pretty good principle:
Pray short in public and long in private.
—Dr. Howard Hendricks
4. Pray Before Important Decisions and in Response to Circumstances.
Some think it’s okay to pray for specific answers such as…
- God, what job should I take?
- Should I marry her/him?
- Should we buy this house?
- Give me the exact words to say in this situation.
Others are not in that school of thought… looking for “signs” or specific answers might be a slippery slope. But everyone can ask for wisdom when approaching big decisions. This could be giving thanks for something wonderful, or asking God to help us through a difficult time.
5. Remember That Prayer is a Two-Way Conversation
Not only do we talk to God, but we believe he speaks to us. God can speak in many ways. He can use our thoughts, feelings, the Bible, our experiences, or even our surroundings to capture our attention. If you find your mind filling with pictures or thoughts that seem a bit strange or random, pay attention to them and test whether you think they’re God’s voice.
FIVE WAYS TO CHECK WHETHER IT’S GOD SPEAKING:
- He will not contradict what He’s said in the Bible
- Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you
- Ask the advice of a friend or leader who loves Jesus – What do they think?
- Observe your own conscience– do you have a sense of peace or discontent?
- Ask the Lord for confirmation– to say the same thing in another way