The Practices of Jesus:
The Practice of Prayer
Prayer is the most basic form of relationship with God. It is talking to God, listening to God, hanging out with God, asking God for things, solving problems with God, working with God, recreating with God, suffering with God. Prayer is relationship and therefore has many different expressions; just as any good friendship does.
It is of utmost importance we know who we are praying to. When Christians pray, they pray to their Heavenly Father. Jesus was adamant we never forget this. Jesus said
When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:6-8
Our Heavenly Father knows us through and through, loves us deeply, is all-powerful, knows-all and desires that we know him. Our knowledge of who God is should always condition how we pray and what we pray.
It’s good to have an anchoring prayer time every day – like in the morning. But God means for our whole life to be relationship with him, so we should learn to pray throughout the day. The apostle Paul said ”Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Before you begin the practice with your family and support group, listen to this sermon to understand more about why this practice is so important and discover what it can do in your life.
Here are some suggestions for how you can begin leaning in to the practice of prayer. These are by no means the only way, but are meant to be a starting point from which you can discover what works best for you. Much like getting out on the ski hill, it is important that you start where you are not where you would like to be.
Step 1: Choose your text
If you have never prayed, or have prayed very little and don’t know how to pray there are some simple ways to begin:
1) One of the easiest is to pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It’s found in Matthew 6:9-13. Here it is:
My Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give me today the food I need,
and forgive me my sins,
as I have forgiven those who sin against me.
And don’t let me yield to temptation,
but rescue me from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
2) Another simple way to pray is to use the ACTS acronym to guide you:
- Adoration: Tell God why you like him, why you love him. Honor him for what he has done for you in Christ.
- Confession: Confess your sins to your Heavenly Father and receive forgiveness through Christ.
- Thanksgiving: Thank God for whatever you feel thankful for.
- Supplication: Bring your requests to God. Ask for help, for provision, for change for yourself and others.
If you are familiar with praying and looking stretch your practice of prayer try praying the Psalms:
A great way to grow in your relationship with God is to pray the Psalms. You can read the Psalms and pray them to God as your own prayers. Use the Psalms as your prayer-book. The Psalms will widen your relationship with God, and shape you prayers differently than you would by yourself. You can pray any of the Psalms, but here are some suggestions:
Help in Trouble: Psalm 3:1-7
Confession: Psalm 51:1-12
To make you feel God’s love: Psalm 139
Confidence in God: Psalm 30:6-12, Psalm 23
Desire for God: Psalm 42, Psalm 63
Protection: Psalm 91
Worship: Psalm 145
Confession: Psalm 51:1-12e