Question: How should people talk to God? Is there a right way to pray?
Answer: Talking to God, praying silently or out loud, is how our friendship with Him grows stronger. That’s extremely important, because He wants a relationship, a friendship, more than anything else from you! It’s not about your money or your time serving others, but your fellowship with Him. Praying is not only asking for His help, but also thanking Him for what he has already done. He helps believers all day, every day!
“…be thankful to Him and bless His Name…” Psalm 100:4
Would you believe that fear of prayer, being asked publicly to pray at church or gatherings, keeps some people from being there? I know it happens because that’s how I once felt. My friends told me they had the same fear. I used to avoid Sunday school or small Bible study groups for that reason – I was embarrassed that I wouldn’t have the right words to pray. Have you ever worried about this, too?
As I grew to understand God more, I learned that having what we perceive as the “right words” wasn’t important to God. I read in the Bible that Jesus addressed the subject of prayer numerous times. He explained that people should never pray with the intention of impressing God or other people by using particular words or phrases. Jesus drew intense anger from the religious establishment of His day because He strongly criticized the leaders of the synagogue for their insincere, public prayers. He said they were missing the entire point of praying:
“And when you pray, do not use vain, useless repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For you Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him…” Matthew 6:7-8
Jesus continues in that chapter of Matthew, giving His disciples a timeless example of how to talk to God. We know those verses as “The Lord’s Prayer”. (Matthew 6:9-13) There are many studies available which detail those lines and explain them well. In today’s language, that prayer may sound quite formal. We are not expected to recite the prayer, word for word! The prayer is just an outline of thanksgiving and needs sharing we can certainly use in our conversations with our heavenly Father. When we pray, we are simply talking to God, with our words or silently with our hearts. He is our friend who wants to hear about our day, our concerns, and our questions (even though He already knows!). He is quite creative in answering, too! Reading the Bible daily is a helpful way of keeping the channel open for dialogue with Him as He guides your thoughts and answers your questions by showing you the solutions in those pages.
There are times when we are so upset or afraid that we want to pray but just don’t seem to be able to. This happens often during a time of grief. God anticipated that, of course, and supplies us with His own Spirit, His Holy Spirit, which prays for us and through us.
“And in the same way, the Spirit helps us during our weak times, when we don’t know what we ought to pray for, but this Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:26-28
Try it! Talk daily with this life-long friend who you can always trust. When you are accustomed to talking with Him in private, you will be more relaxed to pray in the presence of others, who will benefit from your examples of conversing with and trusting God. Sometimes, God answers in AMAZING and UNEXPECTED ways!
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him belongs the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20
You can talk or pray right now! Include your gratitude for what He has done, as well as your concerns, requests, and questions.
Here’s one example, and you can and should, of course, customize this to fit your life situation. Just talk with Him. He is listening 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
God, you have been so kind and loving to me during the years of my life, and I haven’t always realized it and acknowledged it. You are such a great God, and I am so happy you love me and care about me. I am amazed that you sent your Son, Jesus, into the world to save me. Thank you so very much! I am sorry for my mistakes and bad choices and want to turn my life in a new direction. I have already tried and failed. I can’t do this by myself. Please send your Holy Spirit to guide me and protect me each day. I want to make better decisions and learn to have a humble mindset so you will be proud of me. But, I understand, that you accept me even before I clean up my life. I know it will take a lifetime to help me become the person you want me to be, but I want to try my best every day to allow you to transform me. I don’t understand why certain things happen to me, but I know you are in control of everything and have a plan for my life that is not always easy. I trust you. Come and live in me, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit! Amen.