Over the years I have had many people talk to me about praying: How do I pray? I don’t know what to pray. Should I say the Lord’s Prayer or recite a Psalm? Is prayer only real when it is spontaneous?
The reason that these questions come regularly is that prayer is not a natural experience for us. Prayer is a spiritual activity but we have to do it with our physical bodies. This is the reason why we often don’t know exactly how to answer the questions either.
But there are some definite guidelines for prayer in the Bible to help us get started. And the first one is: do it. Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians to “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17 NIV). When Jesus begins teaching his disciples about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, he starts with “And when you pray…” (Matt. 6:5) assuming that we will be praying.
The second guideline I would suggest is that the actual practice of praying is where you begin to learn the answers to the questions you want to ask. It’s a little like riding a bike or driving a car. Someone else can give you some information to get you started, but you can’t really learn what is involved until you are actually doing it yourself.
Finally, the key to prayer is faith. By faith I mean believing that God wants to hear from you and speak to you. God will honor your attempts at sincere prayer and respond to you. Trusting that He will respond in a loving way is the first step on the road to a real life of prayer. When the author of the book of Hebrews talks about faith he says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6 NIV).
A lot more could be said. The Bible has a lot more to say about prayer. As you commit (or recommit) yourself to a life of prayer, remember that the Lord and Creator of the entire universe cannot wait to sit down and commune with you!
Love in Christ,
Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church