Do you remember 9/11? I sure do. After 19 terrorists attacked us with hijacked planes, fear gripped the nation. Parents rushed to pick their kids up from school. People flooded […]
On this day in 1964, the Beatles released their Can’t Buy Me Love album, the largest advance-selling record in history. Over 2 million customers pre-ordered the album, and the title […]
How to Pray
Let’s get right to the question I get most often: “Is there a right way to pray?” The short answer to this is no. Prayer is our time with God. The words can be out loud, in your head, a thought of gratitude, a cry for help etc. In fact John Wesley says this, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer. Whether we think of, or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him. Proceed with much prayer, and your way will be made plain.” (“The works of the rev. John Wesley”, p.383)
We can talk about “what God does in prayer” in another post but I feel like this quote answers the question about “the right way” or “wrong way” to pray. We can’t pray incorrectly because prayer is a part of who we are. Prayer is our communication with God and because of that intimacy (whether it is with a group of people or an individual), each encounter is unique and precious. We may not always be attentive of our connection with God but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Steps to Prayer
That being said, I do think there are frameworks to prayer that can help our prayer time be more
meaningful. I don’t always practice my prayer in this way. While I like to think of God in a linear way, I know God doesn’t work that way. I have, however, found this framework useful when the words are hard for me to get out and I need a place to start.
Step 1: Praise
Step 2: Refer to Scripture
- Psalms – the book of Psalms is the ancient Hebrew prayer/song book. I say prayer/song because for some the difference is minimal. Jews have a cantor that leads in worship that will sing or “cant” or “chant” the words to a Psalm. We often sing words that have a prayer-like feel to them. Pray through the Psalms for strength (Psalm 46), lament (Psalm 22), and rejoicing (Psalm 103). There are more than just those three. You’ll find multiple examples of all of those types of Psalms in that book of the Bible.
- Philippians – this book is one of the shorter ones that Paul wrote. It is also his most joyful. I use each chapter for a different kind of prayer. Chapter 1 can be used to give thanks for other people in your life and to pray for them to thrive in their faith (Phil 1:3-11). I use Chapter 2 when I desire to be more Christ-like especially when I need to practice humility (Phil 2:1-11). Chapter 3 is a helpful reminder of sacrifice, hope, and perseverance (Phil 3:7-14). Chapter 4 reminds us to rejoice and to put our faith into practice (Phil 4:4-9)
- Ephesians – Another time that Paul prayed for a church. The prayer in Ephesians 3:14-20 shows the power and strength of God’s love.
- Jesus’ words – while the Lord’s Prayer might be recited more, Jesus also prayed for his disciples and for us as well. You can find that prayer in John 17.
- More of Jesus’ words – I’ll spend some time in another post to specifically talk about the Lord’s Prayer and why it is so powerful. You can find it in Matthew 6:9-13. Watch what Christine Caine has to say about prayer and specifically The Lord’s Prayer…
Step 3: Ask
Step 4: Listen
I’ll close with Andy Langford’s prayer from a post I did in 2011 when Hurricane Irene was wreaking havoc. I feel this could apply as a COVID-19 prayer as well.
O God, you divided the waters of chaos at creation.
In Christ you stilled storms, raised the dead,
and vanquished demonic powers.
Tame the earthquake, wind, and fire,
and all the forces that defy control or shock us by their fury.
Keep us from calling disaster your justice.
Help us, in good times and in distress,
to trust your mercy and yield to your power, this day and for ever.
Until Everyone Hears,
Future FAQs Posts about Prayer:
- Why should I pray? If God knows what’s going to happen, what is the point?
- How do I pray out loud? Prayer is really personal and I don’t like to pray out loud before others.
- What is the history behind some of our historical prayers?
- How do I pray in times of anxiety?
- How do I pray for healing, unbelieving friends/family, in times of mourning, and when I doubt?
- What does it mean to pray without ceasing? And all the other things we may not have covered yet.
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