Originally shared on 5/9/17
I am a naturally quiet person. Because of this, I tend to shy away from praying in public. Especially when I was a new believer, I would do everything I could to avoid praying out-loud. I would attend Bible studies where everyone would pray lengthy, eloquent prayers, and I didn’t feel up to par. Sometimes I’d muster up enough courage to say a quick prayer, but I felt like it “do anything” because it was too quick, or I didn’t have the perfect words to say.
If you’re like me, it’s important to remember that God hears our prayers, no matter how long, short, eloquent, or incoherent. Whether you’re struggling to pray in group, or if you struggle to have one-on-one conversation with God, there are some simple reminders that can help you get on track.
Jesus gave us the perfect prayer guide- When I get stuck in a prayer rut, I love to follow the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. When His disciples asked him how they should pray, He gave them (and us!) a perfect example. Starting with praising God for who He is, then moving on to asking for our needs, and then praying against the enemy. It’s a simple outline that we can build on and make our own.
Jesus warns against prayers that go on and on- Matthew 6:7 says, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” There’s nothing wrong with pouring our hearts out to God. He wants nothing more than to be in fellowship with us. But, when we carry on and talk in circles, it’s not always beneficial.
The Spirit prays for us- Sometimes we just don’t know what to pray. Whether our hearts are deeply troubled and we don’t have the words, or we don’t know much about a particular situation, we know that the Holy Spirit is praying on our behalf (Romans 8:26). There are times that we can sit in silence, and have confidence that God hears us.
It’s OK to pray the same things again- I used to think that if I prayed something once, I had to just have faith that God would take care of it, and that I shouldn’t ask the same thing again. In a recent devotional time, Mark 14:39 stuck out to me: “Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before.” Jesus knew He was going to be put to death, yet He asked God multiple times to take the cup of suffering from him. God already knows what we are feeling, but He cares about us enough to listen every time we call on Him.
Prayer is not just for the “super-spiritual”, or an art of the chosen few. It’s the conversation between us and God on the drive to work, or a quick word before a scary doctor appointment. It’s allowing the Holy Spirit in us to act on our behalf. Just like when we first meet someone and conversation is slow, it gets easier as you get to know each other. God also teaches us to pray, it doesn’t need to be complicated, and we don’t need to compare ourselves with others. Sometimes, by keeping our prayers simple, we can hear what God has to say to us, too.
If you’re looking for a great study on prayer, check out the Bible App’s “The Power of a Simple Prayer” by Max Lucado