Prayer is an essential component of the Christian faith, and it is crucial for anyone seeking to deepen their relationship with God. I remember serving as a student and discipleship pastor at a church in Sherman, Texas. I got called into the family pastor’s office. I was in trouble but I didn’t know why. He asked me to sit down, and asked me. “How do you pray?” I explained in detail what we will be learning together in this section. He looked at me with relief, and asked, “Why did I get a phone call from a parent that said you needed to count to three, clap your hands, bow your head, and close your eyes everytime you pray?” I laughed a little but was relieved. I explained that when you have 60 kids playing games before the youth group starts, it is loud. Before we prayed for the fellowship meal – you can picture it yourself – I would count to three. “1! 2! 3!,” the whole youth group would clap their hands, and I would start praying. Well, when you’re at the dinner table with your teenage son and he yells, “1! 2! 3!” and claps, let’s be honest, you would have called the family pastor, too. There are a lot of ways to pray, and unless you’re yelling “1! 2! 3!” at the dinner table or are praying selfish prayers, it is hard to pray incorrectly. Prayer is aligning the will of God with the path in front of you. Seek His will and His path for you through the power of prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus taught us, provides an excellent framework for praying. However, don’t overthink prayer. God’s Word tells us that He hears us. Even when we don’t know what to pray, he hears the cry of our hearts. Pray with respect and honor. You can start just by telling God what is on your mind, what you think of Him, and what is going on in your personal spiritual journey. Learning how to pray is a process that requires patience, consistency, and a willingness to open your heart to God. Let’s run together in learning how to pray and developing a more meaningful prayer life! Jesus prayed, and if the Son of God needed to pray, then how much more do we? Our prayers are an act of humility that acknowledges our dependence on God. Jesus relied on the strength of His Father and the Spirit to sustain Him throughout His ministry. We must also recognize our need for divine strength to accomplish anything in life. Leonard Ravenhill said in one of his sermons, “No man or church is greater than its prayer life.”3 The effectiveness of our ministries, whether personal or corporate, depends on our prayer life. Without prayer we are powerless, but when we pray, God empowers us to do great things in His name. James 5:16 can give us comfort and boldness that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. This verse reassures us that God answers our prayers when we pray according to His will. In James 4:2, we are reminded that we do not have because we do not ask. We must ask God for what we need and trust Him to provide for us. Matthew 6:9-13, also known as the Lord’s Prayer, will guide us in how to pray. This guide provides a structure that is easy to follow, making it a helpful prayer guide for both beginners and seasoned Christians alike. The Lord’s Prayer can be broken down into four main sections, each of which has significance.
In your student guide, you will be asked to write out your own prayer to God.
1. The first section is “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” This line emphasizes the importance of honoring and respecting God when we pray. We acknowledge His greatness, His holiness, and His power.
2. The second section is “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In this section, we are encouraged to pray for God’s will, not our desires. We should seek to align our will with His will and pray that His Kingdom comes to Earth.
3. The third section is “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” In this section, we ask God to provide for our needs and to forgive us of our sins. It also reminds us of the importance of forgiving others.
4. The fourth section is “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In this section, we ask God to protect us from temptation and evil. We recognize our weakness and ask for His strength to guide us on our spiritual journey.
Although the Lord’s Prayer is a guide, prayer is more than reciting a set of words. It is a conversation with God, and we should feel free to speak to Him in our own words. We should approach Him with honesty, transparency, and vulnerability. He already knows what we need, even before we ask Him. Sometimes, we may feel unworthy to speak to God. We may be overwhelmed by our sins or feel that our problems are too insignificant to bring to Him.
However, we must remember that God loves us, and He wants to hear from us just as a father should want to hear from his children. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, and He intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Even when we don’t know what to say, the Holy Spirit is with us, and God hears the cry of our hearts. Still today one of my many most embarrassing moments is the first time I ever prayed publicly. I didn’t grow up in church but was always at the church. Long story for another day. I happened to go to my church’s youth group, which met at a home, based on the school and grade you were in.
The cool thing was I knew people in the Bible study; the bad part was I didn’t know how to pray. Before we went into the house, we 23 all gathered outside at the local park and, together in a circle, we held hands. We shared prayer requests and the teacher asked each youth to pray for another. I remember, I was asked to pray for Rachel’s grandma. She was sick. Outside of me thinking Rachel and every other girl in my group was cute, I knew nothing about Rachel or her grandma. Everyone took turns praying. One by one, praying for each other. Two people away, now I am next. It’s my turn to pray. I opened my mouth to pray and these were the words I prayed for Rachel’s grandma: “Dear Father, please bless this food into our bodies. Amen.” I didn’t know that you don’t say “Amen” if people are going to pray after you, and I didn’t know that I did anything wrong. I was so proud of myself! I talked to God! Middle school laughter began to break out, and the prayer stopped for a moment. Ryan (my friend) looked at me and said, “You were meant to pray for Rachel’s grandma.” With a proud look on my face, I softly said, “I did.” The teacher finished the prayer for us as I passed gas and more laughter broke out. My face was as bright red as my hair. I did not go to Bible study that night. I called my dad and asked him to pick me up because I wasn’t “feeling well.” The only time we prayed in my house growing up was at the dinner table. That was the only time I was modeled on how to pray. I find myself making this same mistake even now with my own children and wife, and I can’t go without thinking that in most Christian homes, the only time we talk to God is at the dinner table. Parents, would you pray over your children tonight at their bedside?
Teenagers, would you walk into the living room, put your hand on your parents’ back, and pray for them? Husbands and wives, would you go out of your way today and pray for your spouse? When was the last time you and your family sat down in the living room and prayed for your church? Maybe tonight is the night to do that. Prayer is a vital part of our spiritual growth. Learning how to pray takes time and effort, but more importantly it takes a willingness to depend on God. The Lord’s response to our prayers may not always be what we expect or desire, but we can trust that He has our best interests at heart and that His plan for us is perfect. Prayer provides us with a way to communicate with God and seek His guidance and wisdom in our lives. It can help us to deepen our faith, find peace in difficult situations, and build a stronger relationship with our Creator. Through prayer, we can express our gratitude, ask for forgiveness, and share our hopes and fears. Moreover, prayer is not limited to a particular time or place. We can pray anywhere and at any time, whether we are alone or with others. We can pray through words, thoughts, or even silent meditation. Prayer is not so much about the method but the intention behind it.