There is no wrong way to pray.
Perhaps the only mistake in the realm of prayer is not to pray at all.
There are many helpful prayer plans and good books on prayer, but ultimately nothing beats simply praying! You can’t do it wrong.
Serving in the church as a leader for as long as I have, the most consistent thing I’ve seen is a lack of confidence in how to pray. Men and women are often uncomfortable and sometimes afraid to pray out loud in a group because they feel they are not very good at it. This often becomes an obstacle to pray much at all, even in private.
It’s important to remove the element of complexity from prayer and replace it with the promise of life-changing power. In the natural realm, it’s kind of like walking. It’s really difficult to go for a walk and “walk wrong,” and the benefits are incredible.
Jesus’ most famous lesson on prayer is about 53 words in length and takes less than a minute to read it. (Matthew 6:9-13) In it, there is a lifetime of wisdom, but you can access that wisdom immediately:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ’
Prayer is an invitation.
- It’s an invitation to experience intimate communion with Jesus.
- It’s an invitation to develop your faith.
- It’s an invitation to change the world.
My intent here is not so much another prayer plan, but to help encourage anyone to see prayer as an invitation to engage in something natural, normal and simple.
Children get it; adults complicate it. Prayer isn’t something light and frivolous, but it is something anyone can do anytime.
3 Simple Practices:
1) Pray Big.
The second phrase in Jesus’ lesson on prayer is: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It doesn’t get bigger or more important than the Kingdom of God.
Jesus died for the whole world, that is the primary agenda.
I will often pray for our country. We have gone so far astray, but I know God’s heart is grace, so from the White House to each of our doorsteps, I ask that God would stir a spiritual awakening in our country. That’s a big prayer, one that could change the world.
2) Pray Specific.
The more focused, specific and detailed your prayers are, the more confidence you gain that God answered your prayer. There is nothing wrong with general prayers, but it’s more difficult to know when they are answered. And you might be tempted to think, “Well, it was coincidental that I prayed and it all worked out.”
I was on a return flight home, and a baby was screaming, not crying, but screaming for over an hour straight. We were all on edge. God prompted me to pray for the baby. I thought, right, pray what? He said to pray for immediate peace and even laughter. I prayed just exactly that with a sincere heart, and the baby stopped crying immediately. No way was that a coincidence. And yes, the baby began to coo!
3) Pray Now.
You probably have a favorite spot you like to pray. If not, I encourage you to find a place in your house that is your “prayer place.” That’s where you go to pray, and perhaps those are longer prayer times.
But you can pray anywhere and anytime. And often those prayers are short. They are sincere and from the heart, but brief.
Scripture says, “Pray continually.” (I Thess. 5:17) That represents an awareness and engagement in the fact that God is always with you. I believe it’s an invitation to pray anytime as the Holy Spirit prompts you.
You might be driving by a terrible accident and ask God to save lives. You might be in a mall and see someone who appears to have cancer and ask God to heal them. Or perhaps you are in a meeting at work or having a tough time with your kids at home, and you simply pray, “Jesus I need your help, I need wisdom, or patience,” (or whatever the case might be.)
There is no need to wait. Pray now.
So, for prayer, imagine yourself taking a nice long walk with God, just put one foot in front of the other and keep going.