This is a guest blog post from Mary Weinstein, Church Administrator. Mary is a fierce proponent of prayer, and has a desire to see people transformed with a new or growing relationship with Jesus. While generally caffeine,addled, Mary enjoys hiking, reading, and spoiling her cat.
My Dad really dislikes the word ‘dude.’ Growing up if I called him that he would respond by repeating the word several times in an exaggerated tone: “dooooooode, dooode, dooooode” much to my adolescent chagrin.
His point was that ‘dude’ is not a term appropriate for me to use for him. It is not a term that accurately reflects our relationship. How we speak to one another indicates our relationship.
You can tell a lot from how someone talks to another person. How much they respect that person, if they are comfortable with that person, and even how often they speak to him or her in general.
How are you talking to God?
As Christians we have the privilege of talking to God directly. Through prayer we can ask God for help, thank him for his provision, and acknowledge him as sovereign.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…, 1 Peter 3:12
Although we have the Bible, it can still be difficult to know how, and when to address God. Below are some suggestions on how to approach prayer.
How to Pray
7 Things You Should Do When Talking with God
Below is a list of ways you can approach talking with God. This is not an all encompassing list, but it’s a good place to start.
1.Know God is Always Listening
God has so many names, and all of them reflect who he is. He is our Savior, Lord, Father, Friend (and so much more!). One name for God is Immanuel, which means God with us. God is with you always. He is listening, and he cares about even the tiniest of your needs.
There is no special time or place where you should talk to God. He is with you on the commute to work, in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, and even in the shower. (Coincidentally all good times and places to pray.)
If you had the president's phone number, and had the assurance he would pick up the phone every time you called, and that he would do his best to meet all of your requests, how often would you call him?
Side note here, God is not like Santa in that he is always listening in order to put you on the ‘naughty list.’ He is listening so he can help you, encourage you, and equip you for your daily life. He is a God of justice, but also of grace.
And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.- 1 John 5:15
2. Know God Loves You
God loves us so much that he sent his only son Jesus to die on our behalf (John 3:16). You are loved so intensely by God! The Bible often addresses God’s followers (you!) as Beloved. God considers you Beloved, or: much loved, darling, dear, precious, treasured, cherished, prized.
If God loves you enough to sacrifice his only son, and his name for you is ‘Much Loved’, imagine the conversations he’d like to have with you.
Talk to God with an understanding about how he feels about you, and what he’s already done on your behalf. Approach him with confidence knowing he wants to hear what you have to say, and he’s eager to be glorified in your life.
Need a reminder of who you are in Christ Jesus? Start reading Ephesians.
Who You are In Christ Jesus:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. - Ephesians 1:1
3. Pray All the time
The Bible encourages us to pray all the time. 1 Thessalonian 5:17 calls us to pray without ceasing, literally to never stop praying. We have some limitations logistically in this regard, but the essence of that verse is that we can (and should) talk to God all the time.
If you imagine praying as lofty requests and eloquent language, the idea of praying all the time can seem daunting. But if you are talking to God like a friend (which by the way is how he would like to talk to you), it is much more tangible. Have you ever listened to a small child recounting their day? The story might not be particularly cohesive, or even understandable, but it’s always a joy to listen. That’s who God wants to be in your life. He wants you to tell him about your day, to let him know what you’re excited about. He’s a really good listener, and he is genuinely interested in hearing from you.
If you’re not in the practice of praying regularly, start out by spending 3 minutes in the morning talking to God. Remember there’s no special format or location, and everything gets easier with practice.
4. Pray About Everything
One of the fundamental characteristics of God is that he is ever present, but he is also all knowing, which means he knows what you need (and want) before you ask for it (Matthew 6:8).
God is always with you, and He already knows everything about your life (past, present and future by the way). So there’s nothing you can tell him that will surprise him, and he is aware of everything going on in your life.
There’s nothing your struggling with that God won’t understand, or already know about. So there’s no shame in approaching God with things you might be embarrassed about, or might not feel comfortable telling a friend.
God also promises that if you ask him for things he will give them to you (John 15:7). So if you’re doing the math: the God who is everywhere, knows everything, and loves you-- has promised to listen and answer your prayers.
If you pray to win the lottery you may be out of luck, but if you’re praying for things that align with his word (the Bible), and his Character (also see the Bible), he promises to come through (Matthew 21:22). See a theme here? God is eager to show you how much he loves you!
If you need something, ask God for it. I’ve prayed for things big and small from a parking spot, all the way up to world revival.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God., Phil 4:6
5. Trust God Will Answers Your Prayers
In addition to being ever present and all knowing, God is also all powerful. He has all the alls. All the power, that means he can do anything. He’s the type of God that will split entire seas down the middle, rain food from heaven, and raise the dead. I’m not saying he will always do those things specifically for you, but he can (Mark 9:23). Let that settle in for a second.
While God can do anything, it’s important to know that he doesn’t always do things on the timeline that we would like, he operates on his own timeline (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Sometimes too, his answer to our prayers may be ‘No’ or ‘Wait’, but he is always eager to bless our lives and bring us into deeper relationship with him (Proverbs 3:5,6).
If God is all powerful, eager to move on your behalf, and loves you fiercely, what’s holding you back from talking to him about things that you are worried about?
There is nothing that can come against God’s power and authority. For those of you who don’t naturally trust easily, practice trusting God. Read scriptures that talk about God’s promises, and think about times God has come through for you.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:12,13
6. Listen to God
It’s easy to get caught up asking for things when praying. There’s a lot going on in our lives, and there are many things we need. God is eager to work on our behalf, and wants to hear those requests.
It is also important to take the time to listen. Have you ever had a friend who only talks about themselves, or only asks you for favors? One sided conversations (and friendships) get tiresome quickly.
God wants to speak with you, which includes speaking to you (Jeremiah 33:3). If you are having trouble hearing God, it may be that you’re not listening. Take a deep breath. Ask God if he has anything he wants to say to you. Actually listen. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back. Make a practice of being quiet and listening daily.
The exciting thing about listening to God is that he has some pretty awesome things to say. He created the universe (Gen 1), he probably has some pretty good insight for your life.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. - 1 John 5:14
7. Honor God by Praising and Thanking Him
I am a coffee person, and I am so thankful when someone hands me that first (or third) cup. My appreciation for that coffee reflects the effort and ability that person put into making it, and their thoughtfulness in giving it to me.
How much has God blessed you with? What abilities does he have that allowed him to do so? Let God know you appreciate all the things in your life today. Acknowledge him as God.
Sometimes when I’m really caught up in worship, all I can say to God is ‘Thank You.’ Thank you for being God. Thank you for making me. Thank you for all that you’re doing in my life today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Thank you that you sent your son on my behalf. Just, ‘Thank You’.
If you struggle with knowing how to pray, ‘Thank you’ is a great place to start.
I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! - Psalm 66:17,20
How Not to Pray
3 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Talking with God
1.Use Eloquent and Flowery Language
Praying out loud can be really intimidating. Even if you’re by yourself, it’s tempting to throw a ‘thou’ in there to make sure God really hears you. It’s important to know God wants a relationship with you, and he already knows how you speak. Talk to him how you would talk to a close friend, with the same vocabulary, intonation, and frequency. If you naturally tend towards more flowery language, go for it!
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer… - 1 Peter 3:12
2. Ask God for Things You Shouldn’t Have
God is a good father. He is eager to bless you with every good gift. Just like a good Dad though, he’s not looking to feed you ice cream for dinner every night. Good parents discipline their children, tell them no when appropriate, and don’t always give them things they want. Not out of spite or selfishness, but because they want what’s best for their children (Luke 11:13). God is a good father, he will never leave or forsake you. But he may so ‘No’ if you ask him for a Ferrari.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.- James 4:3
3. Tune God Out
Have you ever been introduced to someone, and in the rush of introducing yourself forgotten their name? Ten seconds after shaking hands and you already lost it. God wants to speak with you, but it’s important that those conversations are two sided.
Similarly, if you only ever talk (or listen) to God when you need something, you’re missing out on all of the amazing things he has for you (1 John 5:14).
Questions to Consider
How often do you talk to God, and how do you speak with him? Are there things you’re afraid to ask him for? Do you feel the need to use eloquent language when praying? Are there things you’re hiding from God? What makes you uncomfortable in regards to prayer? Are there people you could be praying for?
Verses to Meditate
1 John 5;14,15
2 Timothy 3:16
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