This weekend Pastor Dave looked at James 5 and challenged us to be people that pray, people who invade the impossible by talking to the God who makes all things possible.
The word prayer can conjure up many images for many people: maybe a candlelit cathedral, somber and quiet; maybe holding hands around a table thanking God for the meal. There are many ways to pray. I have included some ways I like to pray to God below. If you’re wondering how to pray, scroll down for my tips.
Prayer, for me, has become an ongoing practice of connection and relational intimacy with my maker.
I want you to pause momentarily and think of one person you really enjoy talking to. Who is someone whose name popping up on your phone brings a sense of joy or relief? Who is someone who makes your world feel a bit quieter and calmer and who you can exhale with? Think about what it is like talking to them, sharing life with them, and then take that feeling and multiply it with the ability to receive divine help, restoration, provision, and renewal. That is what prayer is.
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about himself as the vine and us as the branches. And the thing about branches is that disconnection from the vine leads to withering and death. Jesus says abide in me. Stay connected to me. Make your home with me. Talk to me. Connect with me.
The practice of prayer, paired with reading God’s word (check out last week’s post for more), builds an intimate connection with our maker.
How To Pray: Practical Ways to Practice Prayer
- Start a prayer wall.
I use 3 X 5 index cards and date the card, then write out the prayer I’m praying: the need for help in something, miracle healing for a friend, wisdom in a decision I have to make, growth in patience (Lord help me), supplied needs…whatever it is. But I create one card for each thing. And as I pray for these things, big and small, I go back and add notes as God brings new thoughts to mind, new scriptures, or as there are clear answers. Seeing this wall daily helps me see that God is not far nor absent.
- Pray out loud.
God hears silent prayers. I pray silently often. But sometimes, I find that praying out loud cements my thoughts and conversation with God. Truth be told, I often have conversations with God that mean business: I’m talking to him like I would someone physically in the room.
- Pray in a journal.
God hears written prayers too. Journaling prayers allows a conversation as you study Scripture and evaluate how that scripture applies to you. Journaling is a natural way to both speak and listen in prayer.
- Pray in silence.
I don’t mean praying silently in the sense of thinking words and praying. I mean becoming very conscious of stillness and considering the presence of God close by. If you’ve ever been close enough to another person that you could sit beside them, not say a word, and walk away somehow closer to that person, this is the type of prayer I’m talking about. Sit still. Feel that stillness. Close the computer, turn off the phone, sit, and focus your mind on the fact that Jesus is near.
- Pray candidly.
You do not have to dance around the issue with Jesus. If you care about it, it matters. Say what you think, say what you feel. The Psalms are full of prayers of people who raged at God but, through their raging, encountered God’s nearness and renewal. Your prayers don’t have to be polished; just honest. God can handle it. He would much rather you bring your raw, difficult, unkempt honesty than stonewall him until you think you’ve got your act together. Intimacy is truth; to build intimacy with Jesus is to be deeply honest with Him.