Prayer can be a difficult thing. Firstly, we need to have a measure of faith in God.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
If we believe that God exists and rewards those who seek him, we need to listen to God. Listening to God, will help us be like God and help us know how and what to pray for. The way we listen to God, is to read his message to us – the Bible.
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
So if we want God to hear us, first we have to hear him.
The Bible has many instructions about praying. The prayer Jesus taught to his disciples, is a good starting point.
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (2) And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. (3) Give us each day our daily bread, (4) and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
See also Matthew 6:5-15.
In this prayer, Jesus is saying:
- to honour God
- to pray for God’s Kingdom to be set up on earth
- to ask for the food we need, both spiritual food and physical food
- to ask for forgiveness, bearing in mind that we will be forgiven as we forgive
- to ask to be saved from temptation
Other places in Scripture mention the following things to pray for:
- Pray for help when we are in trouble. Psalm 50:15
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (linked to the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth) Psalm 122:6
- Pray for one’s enemies. Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28
- Pray for others. 2 Corinthians 13:9; Colossians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; James 5:16
- Pray for the spread of the Gospel message. Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1
- Give thanks to God. Ephesians 5:20-21
- We should pay for kings and those in positions of authority. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- Pray for wisdom. James 1:5-8
You are right to be concerned about praying. God wants us to ask for his help and guidance. He wants us to make him the centre of our lives. We see an incident in the book of Joshua, where the leaders did not ask for God’s guidance and God required them to bear the consequences.
So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
God doesn’t hand us everything on a plate. As parents know, if we just give our kids everything they want, we destroy their characters. God wants us to ask for his help. He wants us to depend on him. He wants us to seek him with all our heart. Prayer is vital in the life of a believer.
When you find prayer hard, remember the encouraging words given through the apostle Paul in Romans 8:26-28:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (27) And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (6) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.