There are many scriptures in the bible that teach us about prayer. As Christians we are commanded to pray but not every Christian knows what prayer is, how to pray and how prayer works. I have learned from my conversations with other Christians that prayer can be an exciting time which brings joy and hope to the heart, but for others it can be a difficult moment to do. In my view it is not simply because they do not want to pray but because they don’t know how to pray and they see themselves inadequate or aren’t good enough to come to God in prayer.
It is interesting to learn in the Gospel of Luke 11:1-4 that the disciples of Jesus asked Him to teach them how to pray but not to do a miracle. They learned that Jesus spent so much time alone to pray before he started his days to minister and perform many miracles. There are many Christian books that teach believers how to pray with many forms of prayer. I have read a few books and I found them rather confusing. It is important for us to understand about prayer according to the Scriptures. For some years I prayed because I felt that I had to, otherwise I didn’t feel like I was a good Christian. Now I have a better understanding about prayer through reading and studying the Scriptures.
Prayer is the way we communicate with God and God communicates with us through His Holy Spirit. It is so important to our spiritual life like a heart to our physical body that pumps and circulates blood to our whole body so it can function properly. We position ourselves to listen, to receive and to respond before God.
These three points below have helped me to develop my prayer life.
1/ PRAY WITH FAITH AND IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”(Ephesians 6:18)
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).
We come to God with all kinds of prayers and requests which help us to build our faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. While he was in prison St Paul urged and encouraged the church in Ephesus to keep their faith and to be alert against all kind of spiritual destruction on the church. We are also commanded to pray for one another as people of God.
2/ GIVE OURSELVES TO GOD
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people .“ (Ephesians 1:18)
This is a wonderful prayer of St Paul for the church in Ephesus. His prayer for the people of God to have a heavenly wisdom and revelation of Jesus Christ and His salvation. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to give light and understanding of the glory of Jesus.
Prayer begins with God and it doesn’t begin with us. This means that our understanding about God and His perfection shapes our mind and enriches our thoughts. Our God the Father in heaven is loving and just God, who will always open to our prayer. We should learn to give all truth about us and truth within us. We don’t need to think about how God will respond to our prayer. It is not our part to know how God works, but it is our part to trust Him.
Prayer involves speaking and listening to God. Often we do not need to say many words because God already knows what we are going to say. He knows our thoughts and desires. In my understanding, listening to God more with our spiritual ears in prayer is better than speaking. The Spirit of God will remind us scriptures that we need to read and to understand which can help our prayer.
You may have this question now, if God knows everything then why do we have to pray? I believe it is because God wants to have communion with us as His children. God has purpose/work for us in His Kingdom.
3/ BE PERSISTENT AND TRUST GOD WITH THE OUTCOME OF THE PRAYER
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
“ My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways” declared the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than yours and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55: 8-9)
It is easy to say in prayer to God “ May Your will be done “, but in reality it can be very difficult to believe when life is tough. We may come to God with some burdens in our heart/mind so we think, we know how to resolve our problems by asking God to do something for us. The Scriptures say God’s thoughts and ways are not ours, therefore we must learn to acknowledge His sovereignty as God who has control and power over everything. It gives me peace knowing that God is in control over my life so whatever the outcome of my prayer is, it works together for my own good.
If you find it difficult to pray, may I suggest to you first thing is to learn to sit in quietness. You don’t need to say anything but you can say for example: “ Father here I am in quietness ready to hear what you have to say”. Spirit of God help me to hear and to receive from the Lord. You may want to read a few scriptures or a daily devotion bible reading by the help of the Spirit of God who can give you understanding. As you do this daily you will gain understanding about the scripture which will gradually influence and shape your thinking, your view, your speaking and definitely your prayer. It will nurture your faith and build up your confidence in God. I truly believe this will help you to grow spiritually and develop your prayer life by the grace of God.