“I don’t feel that I pray very well,” some have said. “Tell me how to pray better.”
As I have listened carefully, it has seemed to me that some people get hung up on the assumption that effective prayer depends on finding just the right prayer-type words to use.
Whenever they feel unable to come up with such words, they experience frustration and discouragement.
Let me share a few ideas that have been helpful to me and some others.
First, think of prayer as thinking toward God. This first step doesn’t require that you use any words at all. Turn your mind and heart toward God with an earnest desire to commune with Him, remembering the promise in Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Then, think of prayer as being with God. Think of yourself as sitting quietly in God’s presence, offering yourself to Him with openness and receptivity and inviting Him to have His way with you.
Next, think of prayer as leveling with God, letting your hair down and coming clean with Him.
Some seem to think that when they pray they must spruce up, put on their best face and manners, say only nice things and impress God with their beautiful prayer-like words and phrases. The Bible places greater emphasis on honesty and sincerity. So express your true feelings, both positive and negative.
Acknowledge your doubts and fears along with your hopes and aspirations. Tell God freely everything that is on your mind and heart, the bad and the good, the ugly and the beautiful. Level with God. Come clean with Him.
Then, when you finish praying, go your way believing that you have been heard, understood and that your prayers have been welcomed with love.
THE REV. G. DANIEL MCCALL IS THE MINISTER OF PASTORAL CARE AT FAIRVIEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN NORTH AUGUSTA.