(c) graham smith
Prayer is a great thing and an amazing privilege. But it’s easy to neglect and it’s easy to forget about. Here are 6 thoughts on How to Pray:
1. You pray with words
Sounds obvious but it’s worth saying. Prayer is talking. Some people will want to say that prayer is about listening to God and feeling God. Listening to God is a good thing to do. Feeling close to God is a good thing to chase after. But neither of them are prayer and neither are what prayer is about.
But prayer isn’t about saying special words. It’s not magic. It’s not about saying the right words so that you get the right things. It’s not about manipulating God. Saying the right phrases to make happen what you want to happen is magic, it’s not prayer.
2. You pray as a child
Prayer is a manifestation of a relationship, that’s why it’s about talking. And the relationship is of a child with their Father. So we ask God as our heavenly Father for the things we need or would like or what like to see happen. And God is a Father who loves to give good gifts to his children.
3. You pray by the Spirit
The Spirit is the one who makes you a child of God. No one is born a child of God, all of us are adopted. And the means by which that happens is the Spirit. Romans 8:14 calls him “the Spirit of adoption”. And then verse 15 says that it’s by him that we cry “Abba, Father.” If we call God our Father that’s because of a mighty work of the spirit in our lives.
In Ephesians 6 Pauls tells us we should “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers”. Some people think that Paul is saying that there’s two flavours of prayer: you can pray normally or you can pray in the Spirit. That’s not what he’s saying. The only way you can pray is in the Spirit. There’s no other way. Paul’s point isn’t about how we pray, Paul’s point is that we should pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. Praying by the Spirit is the only way that you can pray. Whenever you pray you pray by and in the Spirit.
4. You pray through the Son
The book of Hebrews makes a big deal about Jesus being our great High Priest who lives forever to intercede for us. The only way we have access to the throne of the Father is because Jesus has opened a new and living way through his sacrificial death for us, and he lives forever to go with us into the presence of God.
5. You pray to the Father
Jesus teaches us that we are to pray to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus is fully God. The Spirit is fully God. It wouldn’t be wrong to pray to them. But it is most fitting to pray to the Father as his role as Father is to provide.
6. You pray with thanksgiving
The flavour of all our prayers is to be full of thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says we are to be joyful always, pray continuously and give thanks in all circumstances. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Thanksgiving is to be the flavour of all our prayers, because in all circumstances, no matter how awful, there are always things to be thankful for, not least of which would be the very fact that prayer is possible, and has been made possible by the death of Jesus himself.