I used to be hesitant to pray and kind of stumbled over my words when talking to God. Yet, I desperately wanted to say the right things because I thought if I prayed the right way God would listen and answer my prayers, the way I wanted Him to.
It took me a while, but eventually I got up the courage to talk with a friend about my fears and struggles. She assured me I was normal, and shared how she had dealt with the same hesitancies and misunderstandings about prayer. And she walked with me through Bible, showing me verses about prayer and encouraging me to talk to God in a conversational way.
As I think back on that time, over twenty years ago, there are two powerful lessons I learned:
Prayer isn’t about saying or asking the right things—it’s about building a relationship with God by talking to Him.
If you’ve ever struggled with what to say when you pray, take a deep breath and know you are not alone. There is no formula to getting prayer right and God isn’t listening for the perfect combination of words or measuring how well we pray.
Yet there are still days like today when I want more power in my prayers. Days when I want to feel more confident in what I’m asking for from the One who rules our nations, the Maker of all things, the Shepherd of my heart, and the Creator of the ones I love.
And on those days, when I’m not sure what to say or how to pray, I turn to God’s word remembering “the confidence which we have before Him, (is) that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:17 (NAS)
When we pray God’s Word, we pray God’s will.
When I long for my prayers to be filled with power and my heart to be infused with faith, I look for verses about God’s will and His ways. One is Hebrews 4:12, where God teaches us that His Word is “alive and active.” Some days I pray that truth, asking God to make His Word come alive in a situation and active in the person’s life I’m praying for, or my own.
Often times while I’m praying, verses in the Bible that I’ve memorized will rise up to the surface in my prayers. When it feels like plans are spinning out of control, Jeremiah 29:11-13 will come to mind. On those days, I’ll pray:
Lord, You know the plans You have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a future and a hope. You say that if I come to You and pray, You will listen and will lead me. So, today I surrender my plans for Your plans. Please guide my decisions and thoughts to match Yours so I can experience hope and not harm. Even though things aren’t going so great today, I trust the plans You have for me.
I’m so grateful for the grace-gift of talking to my Heavenly Father without hesitancy. Now that the pressure to say the right things is gone, prayer feels more like a comfortable conversation. Sometimes I just sit still and let God whisper His promises into my thoughts, and then I ask for their fulfillment in my prayers.
What is a favorite verse of yours that you could pray for yourself and someone else today?
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