I vividly remember the first time I was asked to pray out loud in front of a group of people. I was about seven years old in a girls church group called “Missionettes” and we started each week off with a prayer. My duty was to listen to all the prayer requests, which for a room full of seven and eight year old girls you can imagine is pretty vast and confusing, then pray over ALL of them. For some context, I grew up pretty introverted and shy and my parents did most of our nightly praying together. My experience in this area was little to none and by the time I got to the second request I panicked and forgot everyone’s request and ended quickly with “in Jesus name Amen” and started to cry.
Not only had I failed to cover the other girls in prayer, I had not used articulate words, I had not even finished the prayer appropriately (according to my own seven year old standards) and I had embarrassed myself to no end. Isn’t that how a lot of us feel about praying? We have this unspoken, unknown reason for having complete anxiety and fear over praying; as well as feeling like we’re somehow fully responsible for others when we pray. If we say a wrong word, or don’t have large enough words, we shut down. Aside from true fears of public speaking (which I know many people have), is there really a reason to fear praying?
Prayer at its core is nothing more than a conversation with God. It’s just as simple as the conversations we have with those in our lives every single day. The truth is, we wouldn’t have very many relationships with others if we didn’t speak to people. God has no higher or lower expectation of your praying than just that. He wants to develop His relationship with you and what that requires is you opening your mouth and speaking to Him. So how do we start to do this in a way that doesn’t make us feel awkward or scared?
5 Ways to Obtain a Healthier Prayer Life Today
- Read scripture about prayer.
Luke 11:1-4 is the perfect place to start. The men who followed Jesus had some questions about prayer too. Jesus simplified it for them and gave them a place to begin. This scripture can be used as the foundation of where you begin. Start by printing it off or highlighting it and reading it every single day. Once you get good and comfortable, start making it more personal. Slowly add in personal requests for yourself, those you love, your city, state, country, the world or anything else you want. Eventually you can branch out and you’ll find that it gets easier to know what to pray for over time.
- Find quite time and space.
I’ve mentioned previously that I take time to myself every single day to pray and read the Bible. Sometimes it’s 2 minutes, sometimes it’s hours. Either way I find space to fit in a conversation with the Lord and time to read what He has to say to me. The difference in being able to talk with our friends and family, and talk to God is that we don’t (usually) hear an audible response. God typically speaks to us through His word, friends, dreams, pastor’s messages or other ways. So how do we hear Him? Start with reading the Bible. You pray to Him first, and then just sit and be still and quite or listen to a sermon, anything that allows you to focus on God. God always responds when we talk to Him.
- Start a prayer journal.
I’m a personal who LOVES a good list. I have about a million journals which all have a different purpose. One of those is a prayer journal. Often it’s easier for me just to sit down and write everything out instead of trying to speak it. My mind gets cluttered and my words start to not make sense when I’m audibly praying sometimes. So having a place that I write things out is extremely helpful and allows me to go back in and write down the day that God answered a prayer. So for example, I use to write down over and over that I needed a new job. The day I got my job offer, I went back and wrote it down and gave God glory for answering my prayer. Writing prayers and then reading them out loud also helps in practicing praying.
- Ask others to pray with you.
We find in scripture that there is power in agreeing with one another. All that means is that when we pray together, we’re telling God that we ALL want the same thing. Kind of like the notion of one friend asking you to come out with them versus four friends asking you to come out with them. You heard the one friend and entertained the idea but when four people are bringing you the same request you’re much more likely to answer and answer quickly. God works the same way. Heaven listens to us individually, but when many of us are approaching for the same thing we get a lot more attention. Sometimes it’s also more comfortable to be with people you trust. My finance’ and I love to pray together. There’s something comforting about knowing that he’s there and can agree with me in what I’m asking God for. Plus most “scary” things in life are easier with people you trust around.
- Practice makes perfect.
I want to keep reiterating the importance of just doing it. Even when you have no idea what to say or where to start, just DO IT! I can’t think of one thing I ever accomplished without just starting (duh) but I can think of so many things that took forever because I was too scared to start and later looked back with regret. Think of how many times you wish you’d just started and stuck to going to the gym and how far along you’d be now but aren’t. Or how many times you wish you’d just stuck with learning a new language and you’d probably know several by now. Praying is the same way. If you just start doing it awkward and unsure, you’ll find that in a week, a month, a year or longer…you’re praying big, bold and powerful prayers. My prayers would shock some people if they heard them….sometimes I’m even shocked at what I ask God for, but He has never failed me. Every prayer I’ve sent to Heaven has come back answered, not always how I imagined, but answered nonetheless.
- Bonus encouragement *insert praise hands*
Be honest. God can handle your angry, hurt, crying, completely destroyed praying. I’ve many times found myself sobbing on the floor begging God for an answer to something and within minutes feel physically transformed by His love and grace. Not all of your praying has to be positive or uplifting. Sometimes we get into arguments with those we love or have questions for them….God is still the same way. He wants you to ask questions, cry and get upset….those prayers are accepted just as much as the happy ones.
I hope that this encourages you to take a chance on giving yourself to God. My closest relationships are with the people that I spend the most time talking to and God is no different. Just because I don’t physically see Him or hear from Him, doesn’t mean that me speaking to Him is developing our relationship any differently. Reach out to me if you need more help getting started or want someone there to pray with you or need more resources about developing your prayer life.
Here is one of my favorite resources to get you started with your prayer journey and I can’t wait to hear how God has transformed you. Leave me a comment below on your favorite places to pray or favorite resources to use!