One of the most common questions we get is “is there a formula for prayer?” The short answer is no, but there are a lot of helpful pointers in the Bible to get you started in your prayer journey.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”John 15:7
When I was little I used to say prayers before bed every night with my dad. It was a fundamental time for me and helped me learn what prayer looked like. This type of prayer did not make me think there was a formula for prayer, but the opposite. This tradition continued until I was older, and ended right before I entered high school.
I think we probably stopped because I became busy, and didn’t have time for the one-minute prayer with my dad before bed. That’s how most of high school went actually, I never felt like I had time for prayer.
I was in school from 7am on, had sports after school until around 7 pm, then went home to eat and complete homework. I mean, how was I supposed to fit prayer into that mix?
For years I went without really praying, aside from the few prayers before meals, games, and brief mentions of others, until I faced something that dramatically altered my prayer life.
I remember getting a phone call detailing that someone I knew was really struggling mentally with depression. I was 500 miles away from that friend and felt completely useless. The call placed me on the verge of a breakdown. I didn’t know what to do.
Mental health is difficult enough to deal with, but when you are super far from the person struggling, you feel even more useless.
I remember I was at work, and I thought, “Ok God, what am I supposed to do?”
This was revolutionary for me. I realized I was already kind of doing the only thing that I really could do – talk to God. I spent the next weeks praying throughout the day for my friend, asking God to divinely intervene.
Looking back, I believe with all my heart that God did intervene, but that does not mean every time I have prayed for God to do something, it has happened. Sometimes God has other plans, and these are not always easy to understand.
As Christians we know that we are supposed to pray and I think many of us also want to pray, but do we know how to?
How can we pray?
Well, it all starts with a conversation. I mean, that’s all prayer really is, a conversation between us and God.
It’s kind of like talking to a friend. But He will never get sick of you talking, nor will He ever get annoyed at your repetitive askings.
He more than welcomes consistency in prayer, and it’s something we should all work towards!
One of the biggest things that hindered my prayer life was thinking that I had to have a big, complicated, and long prayer in order for it to “count.” I thought that my little four-second prayers would be overseen by God because of their shortness.
If you find yourself to be in this same position, know that God doesn’t require a long prayer in order to hear from you!
In fact, Matthew 6:7 states something entirely the opposite. It says: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
I think we also get intimidated by the word prayer itself.
We hear theologians, pastors, and worships leaders pray in almost a lyrical way. Have you ever heard someone pray and thought to yourself, “if I could pray like them, then I would pray more?”
Want to know some little secrets:
God doesn’t need a long prayer. He doesn’t need Christian lingo thrown in there. He doesn’t require words that sound official but are empty. And he definitely doesn’t give us a formula for prayer.
But what He does provide us with is an entire Bible with tips on prayer.
Maybe you’ll start like I did, with an urgent request. Or maybe there is nothing urgent in front of you right now, but you just feel like you need a friend.
Talk to God. That’s what prayer is. Prayer isn’t fancy words, or beautifully posed sentences. No, prayer is honest, vulnerable communication with our Heavenly Father.
In the next couple of days, we will be discussing prayer and the different ways we can pray! But for today focus on the fact that there is no formula for prayer. Prayer is simply a conversation between you and the closest and most attentive friend you will ever have: God.
Thoughts For The Day
Do you talk to God every day? Do you have a constant prayer life? Or just when things go wrong?
Prayer prompt for the day: pray that God would place a specific person on your heart this week that you should pray for!
Read this next: The Confidence To Pray Big And Small Prayers.