Have you ever wondered ‘am I praying right?’ or ‘are my prayers making any difference?’ Maybe you are new to prayer and don’t know where to start. In this blog, we’ll offer you four tips so you can find out how to pray effectively and take your connection with God to the next level.
Prayer is an essential part of the Christian faith. And despite the down turn in church attendance, many people are still praying.
Recent Barna data shows that nearly three in five US adults (58%) report that they pray at least once a week.
Prayer is also a powerful change agent. In fact the book of James tells us that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
This is great news. Followers of Jesus have God’s attention. This should make us all the bolder to ask Go for His help and more confident that He will answer our prayers.
So, how can we lean into this opportunity? Well, here are four pointers that will help us learn how to pray effectively.
Make your prayers short and direct
Jesus tells His followers that He can see how certain religious people love to show off when they pray. They make sure lots of people can hear them by praying loud and long, and they make sure people see them by praying in public. In Matthew 6, Jesus urges His friends to do the opposite:
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling…”
There’s no need for us to make our prayers long and complex. We don’t need to impress God with our vocabulary, or theology. The Bible tells us that He already knows what we need before we ask for it, so we don’t need to pray to impress.
When you pray be like Jesus and cut to the chase:
“Go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
Make your prayers short and direct. Ask Him for help. Tell Him what you need. Use your own words and express yourself honestly. Over the long haul, this will stop you getting performance anxiety when it comes to talking to God. Your confidence and connection with Him will strengthen too.
Remember that answered prayer is not about the quality of your language skills. It’s about connecting with God our Father, who has a deep desire to hear and help us.
Make your prayers honest
Some of the most powerful prayers contained in the Bible come from the most desperate people. They were often emotionally direct and urgent. And more importantly, they were honest.
“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” Psalm 13:2
The Psalms are a great place to start if you’re looking for the right words that express how you’re feeling. They are full of passionate songs and prayers written in ways that we’re unlikely to hear on a Sunday morning at a church service. They are raw and rowdy, urgent and immediate.
There are many shockingly honest pleas to God for help and intervention. And if you’ve ever been in a situation like that, you’ll know that those kinds of prayers are rarely polite.
God is not in the least intimidated when we pray with emotion and directness. In fact, He gave us the gift of prayer so that we could be honest and vulnerable in the safest of spaces.
Make your prayers frequent
New habits take time to stick and prayer is no different. Remember, your prayers don’t have to be long but by praying short, frequent prayers, you build up that connection with God.
The Glorify App has a helpful prayer function that allows you to create space for personal prayer at a time and a place that suits you. You can also set a reminder when you need it. It’s an incredible tool in helping you build great prayer habits.
There’s also the option of creating your own prayer list, to keep track of the things you are asking God for and to make a note of when He answers your requests. The habit of prayer will compound over time. As author James Clear writes:
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement…over the months and years their effects can accumulate to an incredible degree.”
World renown evangelist Smith Wigglesworth is quoted as saying “I don’t often spend more than half an hour in prayer at one time, but I never go more than half an hour without praying.”
Prayer becomes more instinctive and effective because you are doing it frequently. And that can only be a good thing!
Follow a pattern
Patterns of prayer are really helpful if you struggle to find the right words to say. The good news is that we have lots of examples handed down through S’cripture and history to help us pray effectively.
The Lord’s Prayer was taught by Jesus to His followers to help them pray to God in a life-giving way. Though it was never meant to be recited by rote, it does contain a pattern of prioritisation that allows us to connect with God and begin to pray effectively. You can pray your way through the Lord’s Prayer using your own words.
Guided Prayers such as the Examen prayer model are a fantastic way to end your day, a time to reflect and give thanks.
The daily reflections function on the Glorify App can be a powerful support in your prayer habit.
The Lectio 365 App can help you learn how to prayer effectively too.
Whatever pattern of prayer you use, know that God is listening to you and is eager to connect with you in a life changing way through the power of prayer.