Many people find it hard to know how to pray to God. They want to pray, or they feel because they’re believers, they should pray, but they don’t know how to go about it.
They ask things like, “How do I pray to God correctly?” or, “What do I say when I pray?” or, “How can I pray if I don’t know any prayers?”
So how are we supposed to pray? The Gospels have many accounts of how people conversed with Jesus that can give us some help.
Conversations with Jesus
Let’s look at a few examples in the Gospels that show people conversing with the Lord in an open and honest way.
In Mark 9, a man brought his son to Jesus and said to the Lord, “I brought to You my son; who has a dumb spirit.” Right then, the spirit convulsed the son and he fell to the ground, rolled about, and foamed at the mouth.
“How long has this been going on?” the Lord asked the man.
“Since childhood,” the man said, “And it has often thrown him both into fire and into water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus replied, “You say, If You can. All things are possible to him who believes.”
“I believe; help my unbelief!” the father exclaimed.
How encouraging it is to see we can be genuine with the Lord and ask Him for exactly what we need!
In Luke 11 we have another case. One of the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples.” The Lord then began to teach the disciples how to pray.
Yet another account is in Matthew 15 where a Canaanite woman came to Jesus and said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter suffers terribly from demon possession.”
At first Jesus didn’t answer her a word, and the disciples implored Him to send her away. But the woman didn’t give up. Instead she came to the Lord, worshipped Him, and said, “Lord, help me!”
“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs,” the Lord then told her.
“Yes, Lord,” the woman replied, “For even the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Impressed with this response, the Lord said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you as you wish.” From that very hour her daughter was healed.
What you may have noticed from these verses is that all of these people in their conversation with Jesus were essentially praying by letting Him know what was on their heart and what they hoped He would do for them.
So what can we learn from these cases about how to pray?
What We Can Learn
People very often over-complicate the matter of prayer. They think, “I need to pray in a certain way” or “I need to repeat the right combination of words in order for the Lord to hear me,” when really, to pray is to simply have a conversation with the Lord Jesus.
The people mentioned in the Gospels had the privilege of meeting Jesus in person and telling Him their requests. But today, Jesus now lives in our spirit as the life-giving Spirit. This means He’s always available, and we can have a conversation with Him at any time, in any place.
Here are some examples of how we can pray to the Lord in a conversational way.
When we start our day, we can pray,
“Good morning, Lord. Thank you for another day. Lord, I also want to remind You again my father still isn’t saved. I really want Him to get saved. Oh Lord, operate in His life and save Him this year.”
Sometimes we feel the heavy burden of many cares. First Peter 5:7, tells us, “Casting all your anxiety on Him because it matters to Him concerning you.” So we can pray to Him,
“Oh Lord Jesus, I need You. I’m really anxious today and need Your help. Lord, I cast all of my anxieties on You. I trust that You can help me with all of these things that are weighing me down. I’m unable to deal with them, but You’re able to, so I cast all of these things on You.”
At other times, realizing how short we are of Christ and how much we need to grow in Him, we can pray,
“Lord, thank You for today. Thank You for another day to gain You. Oh Lord, grow in me more today. Make Your home more in my heart. In fact, make my heart Your very home.”
As you can see from these examples, our prayers don’t need to be complicated or formal. In fact, the Lord would love nothing more than to for us to converse with Him as we go on in our journey with Him.
In this journey, our Lord will sometimes take us through difficult things in order to gain us. Watchman Nee, one of the authors of the books we give away, once said:
“If God leads you to walk a way that you know, it will not benefit you as much as if He would lead you to take the way that you do not know. This forces you to have hundreds and thousands of conversations with Him, resulting in a journey that is an everlasting memorial between you and Him.
Your Leader will lead you to walk an untrodden way, to go down a path you never dreamed of. He is afraid of nothing, and He wishes you to be afraid of nothing also. He is with you. In desperate situations it is His joy to see His children grasping His hands.”
–The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Set 1, vol. 7: The Christian (5), p. 1144, published by Living Stream Ministry
How reassuring it is to know our Lord is with us all the time! And He wants us to converse with Him again and again, and grasp His loving hands through prayer!
The next time you find yourself having trouble knowing how or what to pray, just remember that, as a believer, you have the Lord as a person living inside of you, and He’s waiting for you to have hundreds and thousands of conversations with Him. He won’t necessarily answer every prayer immediately and in the way we expect, but He does care immensely about us and is always ready to listen to what’s on our heart and mind.
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