For some reason, I’m not really sure why, I’ve found that I’ve had a lot more free time at home. So in between the times I watch YouTube and scroll Facebook, I thought I would focus some time on praying.
I’ve often struggled with prayer, often I’ll sit down to pray and within a few minutes I’ll be distracted by my phone, my mind would just start wandering and I’ll just be bored. So over the past few months, I’ve focused on improving my prayer life, I read a book called ‘How to Pray’ by Pete Greig, which I’d highly recommend, but in reality to have a good prayer life, you just need to get down on your knees (or sit on a chair if that’s more comfortable) and pray. So now I write this blog to all of you, to encourage you to pray, but mostly with some practical tips to help you.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
I’d like to propose that Jesus knew what he was doing when he said this. This is Jesus, who is both God and human, who prays to his Father more than anyone, who knows his Father more than anyone and who knows more about prayer than anyone. And this is his response to someone asking him how we should pray. We should probably take many notes. I’d also recommend that as you read this, take regular breaks to stop and pray about what you’re reading; prayer is a personal thing between you and your Father, and so it’s mostly working out what works well for you.
“Our Father in heaven”
You’ve sat down, about to pray. Now what…?
My greatest advice for anyone now is to pause, take some deep breaths and just recognise who it is you’re praying to. You’re praying to your Father in heaven, the God of all creation, and the God who sent Jesus to give his life for you. He is a Father who wants to talk to you and does! Which I shall suggest has a few consequences:
Keep it simple
- He knows exactly what you need, there’s no magical array of words that get you things. Nothing you can do will make God love you more or less, so there’s no point trying to professionalise it to make you look better.
Keep it honest
- Possibly the biggest impact. He knows you far more than you know yourself, he knows how you’re feeling and so just to tell him the truth. Often, I’ve tried to align my prayers to correct theology, whereas talking to your Father, you can question why bad things happen, you can get annoyed and angry. He knows how you’re feeling, if you hide it that’s not going to help.
- If you mess up, do you have the attitude of, “Oh no, my Dad’s going to kill me” or rather, “I need to call my Dad”
Keep it up
- As any parent wants to spend time with their child, so does he want to spend time with you. The more you spend time with God the more you learn his voice, the more you know about his character. The more your heart changes to his; it’s only really good.
So, pause and acknowledge who you’re talking to. You’re talking to your Father. Allow a moment to stop competing with him and Worship him. You’re not just speaking into some void; you’re talking to a God who is wanting to listen and talk to you.
“Hallowed be your name”
You’ve just spent time wondering about who this God you’re praying to is. And he is a God who deserves to be worshipped. Reading Matthew the other day I was just struck by how the Wise Men worshipped Jesus as a baby. They chose to travel a massive distance just to see him and worship him. Jesus hadn’t died for them, they worshipped him because he is God. That’s who we’re praying to! And now this Jesus has given his life for you. Don’t limit worship to just saying things about him, although that is a great thing to do. Read the Psalms, sing songs, dance, write a poem, whatever you want to, this is you worshipping God! I’ll post a link at the bottom about a prayer tool shed with many useful ideas on this.
Now using my incredible powers of intuition, I’m guessing that if you’ve got this far through, it means you can read, and not only read, but think for yourself. And so, I encourage you to work through the Lord’s Prayer. And when you pray, explore it, see it as spending time with your Father, more than some professional meeting where you’ve got to look your best.
As I said earlier, I’d often get distracted. That hasn’t stopped, however the more you pray regularly, the more you learn to focus on God, the more you learn to listen to him, the bigger God gets in your life, the smaller the distraction becomes.
“When you pray about the small things in life, you get to live life with a greater gratitude” – How to Pray (Pete Greig)
There is no better time to learn to pray, than when you find you have very little to do at home.
A lot of what I’ve said has been influenced by the book ‘How to Pray’, I would recommend you give it a read. I’ve also found some tools on this tool shed incredibly helpful, so I’d recommend you give them a try.