By Shawn Lazar
Do you know how to pray? Are you making progress in your prayer life? Do you find that your prayers have become repetitive, dry, and boring?
I find I need help to pray.
Martin Luther’s barber once asked for advice on how to pray to God. So Luther wrote him a letter explaining his simple method. Taking my cue from Luther, let me share with you five elements of a simple way to pray.
First, read a Biblical prayer out loud. The Psalms are the Bible’s prayerbook. If you want to learn what a spiritually mature prayer looks like, read the Psalms. Or read the Lord’s Prayer. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17)—it doesn’t matter if you’re hearing your own voice, so read the prayer out loud.
Second, learn from it. As you read it, ask God to show you what He wants to teach you in each section of the prayer. If you pray, “Thy kingdom come,” what does that mean? What kingdom? When is it coming? What is it like? Ask God to teach you. And be proactive. Search out Bible teachers who can explain the Psalm or prayer to you.
Third, give thanks to God. For each truth revealed in the prayer or Psalm, especially if it relates to God’s character, give thanks. If you read, “The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them” (Ps 111:2), then praise Him for all His works. Give thanks for creation, for life, and for loving relationships.
Fourth, confess your sins. When you pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10), you cannot help but think of all the times you failed to do God’s will. So confess your sins as you pray.
Fifth, improvise. As you read a prayer, let it inspire you. For example, as you pray out loud, “Lead us not into temptation…” (Matt 6:13) you might think of a particular temptation or trial you or someone you love is going through. Pray about that temptation. Let words or verses of a Biblical prayer inspire your own prayer to God.
If I were to add a sixth element it would be this: practice. Talk to your Father about anything and everything. A good way to pray better is to pray often.
Shawn Lazar is the Editor of Grace in Focus magazine. He is the pastor of Gateway Baptist’s Faith Fellowship in Denton, TX.