I’m a wanna-be prayer warrior. I long to grow a deeper prayer life, but I have a secret struggle with boredom. I know prayer carries power and changes lives. But when I sit down to pray, I find it hard to focus. After three minutes, my mind travels back to the last season of Downton Abbey, or wanders to my to-do list. Or I try to pray before bed, but I fall asleep.
Are prayer wimps a thing? I suspect I am one and I’m left wondering how to pray better.
I don’t mean to be flippant. Prayer is an amazing privilege. Through words like these in scripture, we have an open invitation from the God of the universe: “Call to me and I will answer you.” (Jeremiah 33:3a) We have a promise that He hears us: “You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)
Through the pages of our Bibles, we see examples of men who prayed. Even Jesus, the Son of God, prayed. So I know I should too, but I find it challenging. I suspect I’m not alone. Many Christians struggle with knowing how to pray.
- 1 Why do we struggle with how to prayer?
- 2 Tip 1: Pray Simply
- 3 Tip 2: Read the Word
- 4 Tip 3: Make Prayer Active and Multi-Sensory
- 5 Tip 4: Make Prayer an Integral Part of Your Day
- 6 Tip 5: Pray Expectantly
- 7 The 10 Commandments
- 8 Act of Contrition
- 9 The Lord’s Prayer ( Our Father )
- 10 Glory
- 11 Additional Prayers to God the Father :
- 12 Magnificat
- 13 Prayer of St. Francis
- 14 Prayer to God the Father for Employment
- 15 The Lord’s Prayer Video
- 16 Christ Himself Always Prayed!
Why do we struggle with how to prayer?
Maybe we over-spiritualize it. We think we have to pray long and eloquent for it to really work. We measure ourselves with spiritual giants like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, and we feel unqualified and unworthy. Sometimes we separate prayer from the rest of life; we look at it as something we do at prayer meetings or in our quiet time.
When I read Paul’s words in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful,” I wonder… how do I devote myself to prayer when I have a regular life with a job and kids? I forget that Paul was surely talking about a heart attitude, not a never-ending prayer meeting or devotional time. Devoted prayer is a heart tendency to turn to God at each turn in our day.
On my journey from prayer wimp to warrior, I’m discovering a few practical tips for how to pray:
Tip 1: Pray Simply
We might think we have to pray passionate, persuasive words for God to hear us, but in reality He listens even to our shortest “SOS” prayers.
“The fewer the words, the better the prayer,” said Martin Luther. Isn’t that reassuring? We can talk to God in everyday language, just like we talk to a friend. We don’t have to pray long. God delights in a simple word of praise, like “Lord, I love you.” He treasures the anguished prayer of a mother when she calls, “Heal my child.” He answers the simplest request: “Lord, give me strength for today.”
Tip 2: Read the Word
Have you ever had a one-sided conversation with someone who talked continually without listening to you? The conversation didn’t go very far, did it? We do the same thing to God when we pray without reading the Bible, His eternal letter of love and wisdom to each one of us on earth. Reading Scripture helps us get to know God. It brings life to our prayers.
If you want to have a more effective conversation with God, read Scripture. Let David’s words in the Psalms enliven your prayers. Stop in the Gospels to pray over a verse that strikes you, asking God to work that truth into your heart. Let the words of Paul’s letters give you specific prayer requests for yourself and the people you love.
Tip 3: Make Prayer Active and Multi-Sensory
Prayer grows dull when we turn it into a purely mental exercise. God made us creative beings, so why don’t we bring creativity to our prayer lives? Lighting a fragrant candle can send a signal to our brains: “It’s time to pray.” It can bring a sacred sense of awe to a few minutes of prayer. Listening to music can help us focus on God. Many people enjoy doodling, drawing, or painting while they pray.
I help my ADHD-plagued brain focus on prayer by keeping a prayer journal. Making a list of requests keeps my mind alert; I stop to pray for each petition after jotting it down. Occasionally I write out longer prayers like a letter. A prayer journal builds faith when you look back over your petitions and recall God’s answers.
Remember you don’t have to sit quietly to pray. My best prayer times happen out on the walking trail. Praying aloud also helps me keep my mind engaged, but I save that for prayer times at home.
Tip 4: Make Prayer an Integral Part of Your Day
This verse baffles me: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;” (1 Thess. 5:16-17) Is it really possible to pray without ceasing?
How about trying an experiment? Start and end your day with prayer. Lift up short prayers to God as often as you can throughout your day. Pray over your schedule. Ask God to help you with your to-do list. When you hear a troubling news report, lift the situation up to God. Say a prayer for your spouse or child as you give him or her a hug. Pray for the person you’re talking to. A friend of mine gives thanks whenever she stops at red lights while driving. Look for prayer moments that work for your life.
Tip 5: Pray Expectantly
Prayer becomes a lifeless exercise when we’re not looking for answers. Jesus invites us to expect God to work. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
How much more exciting prayer becomes when we keep our eyes open to watch for God’s answers. Sometimes I wonder how many answers we miss because we don’t really expect God to respond.
Remember Colossians 4:2: “Devote Yourselves to Prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
How about getting started today? Don’t get discouraged if you get distracted like I do. Just get back on track. Pray and watch for God’s answers, so you can thank Him. He might answer differently than you expect, but His answer will always be better than what you had in mind.
Here are some of our most visited prayers on a variety of topics. You can use these sample prayers to lead your words and to crate your own prayer.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for StrengthPrayer for ProtectionMorning PrayersGood Night PrayersThe Prayer of JabezShort PrayersThe Lord’s PrayerThe Prayer of St FrancisSerenity PrayerPrayer for ForgivenessPrayer for GuidanceIrish Prayers and BlessingsPrayers for My HusbandPrayers for My SonPrayers for My DaughterPrayer Quotes
Now available is our new Daily Prayer devotional! An easy way to find start your day with prayer, read today’s prayer and sign up to receive by email.
Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life with teenagers, and dark roast coffee. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy writes about real life faith on her blog, faithspillingover.com, on Facebook. and on Twitter.
Updated date: January 19,2018
In order to pray to the Father, You must first understand what he commands of us in each of our personal lives.
The 10 Commandments
- I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have other gods beside me
- You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain
- Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not kill
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
- You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
After reading the 10 Commandments, reflect upon your life and then seek his forgiveness first for any short comings…
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
Then, recite the most powerful prayer ever given mankind… given to us by the Son of God himself… on how we are to pray to the Great God Almighty.. Our Father!
The Lord’s Prayer ( Our Father )
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Glory be to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Additional Prayers to God the Father :
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit finds joy in God my savior. For he has looked upon his servant in her lowliness, all ages to come shall call me blessed. God who is mighty has done great things for me, holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm; he has confused the proud in their inmost thoughts. He has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. The hungry he has given every good thing while the rich he has sent away empty. He has upheld Israel his servant, ever mindful of his mercy. Even as he promised our ancesters, promised Abraham and his descendants forever. Amen
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light where there is sadness, joy. 0h, Divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Prayer to God the Father for Employment
God, our Father, I turn to you seeking your divine help and guidance as I look for suitable employment.
I need your wisdom to guide my footsteps along the right path, and to lead me to find the proper things to say and do in this quest. I wish to use the gifts and talents you have given me, but I need the opportunity to do so with gainful employment. Do not abandon me, dear Father, in this search, but rather grant me this favor I seek so that I may return to you with praise and thanksgiving for your gracious assistance. Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer Video
Christ Himself Always Prayed!
It is important to remember, that Jesus Christ himself prayed to the Father Almighty every day. Christ was the incarnate flesh of the most divine father.
In his human heart Jesus learned to pray from his mother, from the synagogue, and the Jerusalem temple. At 12, Jesus said “I must be in my Father’s house” (Lk 2:49). This reveals a filial prayer which the Father wants from his children.
Prayer At Three Decisive Moments
Before his three decisive moments (Baptism, Transfiguration, and Passion) Jesus prayed. He also prayed before three other decisive moments involving the apostles (his choosing them, his commissioning Peter, and his prayer that Peter’s faith would not fail).
Jesus At Prayer
Jesus prayed in solitude, preferably at night. He prayed for all men, and by his prayer shared in all their human experiences. His words and work manifest the prayers which he said in secret.
Two Special Moments
Two other Gospel texts preserve explicit prayers of Jesus. In the first prayer Jesus blesses the Father and thanks him for revealing “to the childlike.” Jesus exclaimed, “Yes, Father!” which prefigured his prayer in the garden, (“Thy will be done”).
In his second prayer Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I know that you always hear me.” This implies that the Father answers Jesus’ petitions and that Jesus is always asking. Another prayer of Jesus’ (his priestly prayer in John 17) is closely linked with the Our Father.
Jesus’ total selflessness is shown by his prayer in the Garden (“Not my will be done, but yours” (Lk 22:42) and by his final seven words on the cross:
1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
2. “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43).
3. “Woman, behold your son.” “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:26-27).
4. “I thirst” (Jn 19:28).
5. “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34).
6. “It is finished” (Jn 19:30).
7. “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46).
Jesus sums up all the troubles of enslaved humanity. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk 15:37). When the Father accepted these prayers and raised Jesus, the drama of prayer was brought to completion. Psalm 2 gives the key to Christ’s prayer. “You are my Son, today (the Resurrection day) I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage” (Ps 2:7-8).
While Jesus was “in the flesh” he offered prayers which were heard by the Father. By obedience, he was made perfect and “became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb 5:7-9).
The Bible tells us “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). It’s important to have faith in God when you can’t see the way but how can you offer God praise when you’re dealing with hardship and pain? The choices you make in these moments are so important. They can propel you toward God or away from Him. You can find God in the hard times by choosing to trust and hope when we can’t see the way. This will help us turn to praise and glorify God better.
According to Scripture, praise is an act of our will that flows out of us through reverence of God. Our God is worthy of praise. Revelations 5:11-14 speaks of a voice of a thousand angels around God’s throne, singing in a mighty chorus “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain – to receive powers and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing”. When we give glory to God, it opens us up to a more intimate relationship with Him.
God is present come rain or shine. He is even present when we fail to realize it. It’s important that we not only turn our focus back to praise when we begin to lose hope but also that we turn to praise in times of abundance. Many of us are quick to question God when things go wrong, but slow to honor Him when things go well. One of the biggest challenges here is turning every blessing He pours into our lives back into praise. One way we can do this is through gratitude. Thanksgiving is a great way for us as Christians to take steps into worship. Psalm 100 exhorts this and us: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His spirits with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100: 4-5). In order to have a heart of gratitude, we must acknowledge God. Here are six prayers to thank God.
Thank You For Loving Me
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for forgiving me. Thank You for showing me my worthiness and for pursuing me. I am in awe of You Lord! I submit my heart to you Lord. May Your Holy Spirit transform me and make me like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thank You For My Countless Blessings
Heavenly Father, I want to thank You for my countless blessings. I thank You not only for the food I have to eat, lovingly prepared for me, but also for spiritual gifts, in particular the loved ones I cherish dearly, a comfortable place to live, the beauty that surrounds me, health, and spiritual wealth to name a few. I acknowledge you for the countless blessings You’ve provided. I thank You for giving us clear direction through Your Holy Word. Through good and bad times, help me to see that we are blessed beyond measure. Amen.
Thank You For Waking Me Up
Heavenly Father, on this day I give You thanks for waking me up this morning and starting me on my way. Today, I ask that I recognize how blessed I am – that I may be spiritually transformed. Help me to not wake up with a complaining spirit, an attitude and dwelling on yesterday’s problems. Instead, I ask that You change our complaining to thanksgiving, our attitude to love and that I turn all my problems and stress over to You. In Your Holy name I pray. Amen.
Thank You For Every Good and Perfect Gift
Heavenly Father, I humbly come before You with a grateful heart, praising You with all my being, for I know that every good and perfect gift comes from You –The One who never changes. I recognize those good things, both large and small, with which You have blessed me. As I lift up this prayer, I also recognize our forgetfulness in giving You thanks each and every day. Forgive me. May I learn to thank You for the good; And may I trust the evil to be made good by You. For You alone are worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. Amen.
Thank You For Those I Love and Those in Need
Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for blessing me. Today, I pray not only for my loved ones, but also for those around me in positions of need. When I have food, help me to remember the hungry; When I have work, help me to remember the jobless; When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all; When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer, And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency; help me to have compassion for those around me, and be concerned enough to help; By word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen.
Thank You For Your Grace and Generosity
Heavenly Father, Creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon me and receive my heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks. I acknowledge You for all gifts and blessings You have bestowed upon us: food and shelter, health, love we have for one another, my family and friends. I thank you for Your infinite generosity. Please grant me continued Grace and blessings throughout the coming year. In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen.
When we focus our minds in the direction of God and proclaim His goodness, we reflect His glory. When we do this, we are filled with peace and contentment. This can help shift our outlook related to our circumstances. Finding God in the hard times can be particularly difficult. That’s why it’s so important to choose trust and hope when you can’t see the way.
God has blessed us with so much. We can’t acknowledge what we have without thanking God, our Heavenly Father, who gave us the gift of life and from whom all blessings flow. Praise God for He is good and His mercy endures forever.