After talking about prayer for the past 6 years, it can be really easy to not address the very basics of prayer. As you sift through our resources, it might even feel like your jumping into the middle of a conversation and you feel a little lost. Who cares about organizing prayers in a prayer journal when you’re not really sure of the purpose of prayer in the first place, right?
Today, we wanted to answer some foundational questions about prayer. Some of these answers are taken straight from the first module of our prayer course, Developing a Fluency of Prayer. If you are really ready to invest in becoming confident and consistent in prayer, this is our best comprehensive tool to help you minimize the physical and mental barriers when it comes to prayer. We cover everything from the basic foundations, to learning to discern the voice of God, praying with others, using Scripture in your prayers, tackling obstacles that are sure to come and more.
Let’s dive in!
What is prayer?
The best answer I’ve learned comes from my daughter’s chapel at school. The teacher placed one hand vertically in front of her and said “prayer is talking to God” then she took her other hand and did the same saying “and listening to God” making prayer hands 🙏. I love this so much because often we say it’s talking to God but it’s actually our conversation with God and listening is a vital part. More on this later!
Who are you praying to?
We start here because it can be easy to focus on the format and forget WHO we pray to, which may relieve some pressure we fail to get the format right.
The best way to learn about who you are praying to is to study the Bible with two specific thoughts in mind.
1. Learn the character of God by asking “what does this passage say about God?” You may want to keep a running list as a reminder when you come to pray!
2. Listening to the prayers of others and asking what does this teach me about the way to approach God? You’ll notice prayers that include praise, request, confession, lamenting, gratitude. He is worthy of and wants to receive each of these parts!
Here are just a few quick thoughts on why God is worthy of our prayers:
1. He is the God who hears and responds. There would be no point to pray if God didn’t hear our prayers but He does and better than that, He responds. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
2. He is the God who cares. You are not a bother to God. Part of knowing God means we know what we can take to him. The short answer? Everything. (Matthew 6:26, Matthew 7:7-11)
3. He is the God who is capable. He created the universe. He is capable of working in your life too. (Colossians 1:17)
4. He is the God who is outside of time. What feels like unanswered prayers or like God is ignoring you may just be a reminder time isn’t linear to God like it is to us. (Psalm 90:4)
Who should pray?
Every believer is called to pray. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
(If you aren’t a believer yet, that simply means first admitting that you are a sinner in need of saving and you believe that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for our sins. You confess your sins and commit to following Christ.)
Anytime, anywhere. This is the beautiful thing about being daughters of the King. Though it might feel like we would have limited access to such a powerful being, Scripture repeatedly tells us to come to Him always and pray without ceasing. (1 Thes. 5:17, Ephesians 6:18 and Luke 18:1)
How do we pray?
We go into this in more detail in the prayer course, but I want you to first know God is far more gracious than we give him credit for. He’s not looking for you to fail or standing there with a checklist making sure you cross every “t” perfectly and dot every “i”. Our enemy, the devil, wants to paint that picture of God because he knows it’s paralyzing. The quickest way to break through is to just start talking to God, out loud if that’s easiest, or writing a letter to him. Let him know you aren’t sure how to pray and ask Him to help you. He’s even given us the Holy Spirit to help us when we don’t know what to say. (Romans 8:26) Does that sound like an unapproachable God waiting for you to fail?
Why do we pray?
You will likely find tons of reasons to pray. I know we’ve shared many over the years but I wanted to share just 6 here.
- Because God said so. If this was all we had, it would be enough. (1 Thes. 5:16-18)
- For God’s glory.
- Because we were created for communion with God. (Revelation 21:3-4)
- Because prayer changes things. (James 5:16b) – Watch this 3 minute YouTube video where I explain this in more detail.
- To live at the center of God’s will.
- Because we are needy.
How do you listen to God?
We have a whole module on this in the course but if you want a quick lesson, check out this post on silence and solitude.
I hope this has been helpful! If you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment or check out the prayer course we’ve been referencing called Developing a Fluency of Prayer. We’ve asked our audience many times over the years for their biggest questions on prayer and this covers them extensively!
Our course is normally $125 but right now we’ve bundled up our course with our Yearly Prayer Journal. You can essentially order the course and get the journal for free! Check it out in our shop here!