How to Pray to God

Prayer

Prayer is a simple and common practice. Children are taught to pray when they are young. Prayers are regularly offered in worship services conducted by local congregations. But sometimes when a practice is simple and common, it is easy to not give much thought to it. Perhaps we are just “going through the motions” and are failing to focus on this important discipline.

In this brief article, we are going to consider how we, as Christians, are to pray to God. This may not be anything new, but it is helpful for us to be reminded of these things from time to time.

  1. Pray with humility – “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14). Jesus told a parable in which He contrasted a self-righteous Pharisee (Luke 18:11-12) with this tax collector to make the point that when we pray, we must have an attitude of humility.
  2. Pray in faith – “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:5-7). There are two points to be made about praying “in faith.” First, to pray “in faith” means that we have confidence in God that He is able to carry out His promises. We are praying to the one “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). However, this does not mean we can pray for whatever we want “in faith” and God will give it to us. This is balanced by the second point – to pray “in faith” means we are praying according to His word, the source of faith (Romans 10:17). We are not really praying “in faith” if we are praying for God to do something contrary to or in addition to what He has said He will do in His word.
  3. Pray for God’s will – “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14-15). This is related to the previous point about praying in faith. Ultimately, it is God’s will that will be done. Therefore, we are to pray for His will to be done. Jesus showed this in His teaching about prayer (Matthew 6:10) and in His example of prayer (Matthew 26:39, 42). We are to pray for His will to be done. Through our prayers, we are working to conform our will to His, not the other way around.
  4. Pray with thanksgiving – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). It is possible to pray for God’s will to be done, but to do so with resentment because we really wish that our will would be done instead. It does no good to simply articulate a phrase like, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10), if that is not truly our request. We are to make our requests “with thanksgiving” – recognizing God’s rich blessings in the past (Acts 14:17; 1 Timothy 6:17), His great promises for the future (Hebrews 6:17-19; 13:5-6), and that His will is higher and greater than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9). If we recognize these things, it will be easier to pray for God’s will to be done and to do this with thanksgiving.
  5. Pray consistently – “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need to be sure that we are praying on a regular basis. The benefits of prayer are diluted when the practice of prayer is inconsistent. As Christians, we should be engaged in prayer at various times of each day.

These are just some of the ways in which we are to pray so that our focus is where it ought to be and so we understand the proper place of prayer in our lives as Christians. It is a great privilege to be able to approach God in prayer – a privilege that God has granted to His people (Psalm 34:15-17; 1 Peter 3:12). Let us take full advantage of this opportunity and “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16).


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Comments

  1. Eric Simpson says

    1 John 5:14-15 says to pray according to His will, not for His will to be done. There is a difference.

  2. Perhaps, but if we pray according to His will, we will be praying for His will to be done.