Christian 101 Series

Christian 101: How To Pray

“Can you even hear me?”

I once watched my friend Amanda fall to her knees in tears when she gave her life to Christ and I remember feeling so much joy that she was finally free. I knew based on the things she had been through and the things she was going through at the time that this would be an uphill battle for her. I wanted to help her as much as I could. I wanted to be the good Christian friend.  But how could I do that when I was living right myself? I was living in some of the same sin she was in. I knew I could pray for her. But how do I pray?

I used to wonder all the time as a child, young adult, and full blown adult if God could hear me. Was I doing it wrong? Was my mic broken because it didn’t feel like anything was changing or I was being heard. I didn’t doubt God’s existence. But I honestly thought He hated me. That the only prayers He listened to were the ones I prayed for other people. How could He love a liar like me? I’m unloveable. No one loves me long term; only my mama and even she didn’t LIKE me sometimes.

Growing up in the church you hear things like, “Just talk to God.” “Have a problem, bring it to Jesus.” But no one could tell me what that means or even how a good prayer sounds. So, I did some research and before I could learn how to pray I first had to figure out what IS prayer and what it IS NOT.


Prayer Is NOT: Prayer is:
A Competition A Conversation
Professional Literacy Street Talk
One-Way Conversation Call & Response
Emergency Hotline For Big & Small Things
Suggestion Mandatory

Now, HOW to do I pray?

Matthew 6:9-13

This was the prayer my mom made my sister and I memorize and say before bedtime each night. Most of us have said this prayer in the same context. But if we break it down, it’ll give us literally a template on how we should pray everyday.

Step 1: Begin With Praise
Praise means to express adoration or approval
Tell God who He is to YOU!
Examples: a Father, Savior, kind, smart, etc.

In The Bible, the prayer starts with, “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” Which in today’s speech is just, “Dad, you’re holy.” In my notebook, I keep a evolving list of all the things God has been to me to this point.

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Step 2: As For His Will
Asking for God’s Will is the same thing as getting all your needs met
God wants us to invite Him in. He doesn’t force himself on us. #GodsNotARapist

Have you ever been running errands with your parents on a Saturday and you just want to escape but your Dad tells you if you hang on at the hardware store he’s going to play catch with you at home, or get you ice cream, or some other reward. Same with our Heavenly Father. Before we tell Him what’s going on in our World, ask Him to do what is best for you and the people around you. Why? Because what you don’t know is that the reason Dad has you at the hardware store is because he’s buying the supplies to build you the treehouse of your dreams. Our model prayer says, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” which translate to, “I want what you say is best to happen here just like in Heaven.”

Step 3: Talk About Your Daily Needs
God cares about your today. Not just big things but also small things.
He is a good father not a trickster. Ask Him like you do your birth Dad.
Be direct, make it plain!

See, you didn’t even have to wait long to talk about you. It’s in this step God wants to know what’s going on in your world. The good, the bad, the frustrating. You can ask for the front parking space at Target or for a new job. It doesn’t matter. It’s not that He doesn’t already know what you’re going through. He just wants to hear it from you. It’s like when your mom picked you up from kindergarden and asked “How was your day?” She already spoke to the teacher and looked at your progress report but she wants to hear from you what you think. The verse says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” which translates, “Give me what I need for today.”. The physical and mental.

Step 4: Forgive, Then Repent
Let go of hurt/grudges
God will forgive you when you forgive others. Forgiveness comes after commitment.

It’s hard to forgive. During prayer this is necessary because it does not matter how good of a person you are on a daily basis, you have messed up and hurt someone you care about before. We all have that emergency prayer, “God if you fix this, I promise to stop smoking or lying or cussing.” God says He will forgive all the times we lied and cussed as long as we forgive the people who cussed at us and the ones who lied to us.  I’m mad at my ex for cheating on me…but I’m forgiving him because I cheated in my last relationship and on that test and on my diet. The verse says, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” which means, “I’m saying sorry and accepting an apology simultaneously.”

Step 5: Tell Your Storm About Your God
Refuse to accept fear of anything: a job, a relationship, a new business, or a big move.
Tell God all the things that make you scared, anxious, in your way or are annoying.
Declare dominance over the enemy
Do not fight your battles alone. Let God strengthen you.

When I was young, I was terrified of the dark. I thought the devil lived under my bed and in the closet. I would always end up in the bed of the closest adult. My grandma told me that anytime I get scared to repeat Jesus three times in the bed when I was scared. Then repeat it once every time I took a step toward my moms bedroom. Each time I did this, the fear would go away before I made it to mom’s door. Eventually if I had a scary thought I only had to say it twice and I’d fall back asleep before I could say it a third time. In prayer, do the same. The verse says,”Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” which means, “Don’t let me see the things that are not a positive vibe.”

Step 6: K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple Stupid)

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Step 6: K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Simple prayer causes BIG changes
God’s power is acquired through prayer
Prayer goes two ways. Talk to God then listen for His response, then talk again.

All of us have had that one long winded teacher that took FOREVER to get to the point. God knows we are busy and He doesn’t ask us to pray for an hour straight every day. I heard a preacher say, “I never pray for more than 20 mins but I never go 20 minutes without praying”. Often when people pray, they use language like, “Oh Thee holy and Righteous Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth born of the Virgin Mary…” Who talks like that now? NOBODY! So get to the point and keep it simple.

Got all that? Great, now let’s put it into practice because if I’m being honest it was hard to do the first couple of times. Here is my prayer (colors match steps):

Hey, You’re such a good Father and I want what you want for me because I know I don’t always make the best choices for myself. Like today, I bought another outfit I don’t need and now I’m short on my rent. I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t have done that. My boss has been stressing me out, and although I know he didn’t mean to it hurt my feelings, I felt like retail therapy was the only way to release those feelings. Next time I’ll come to you. I’m not worried that You will help me rearrange my life so I can keep a roof over my head because you did it two years ago. Thank for listening.”

Was that even five minutes? I’m pretty sure it was only 3 minutes long if you read slow. Try writing the first one down. It will help you structure it and then say it out loud to God. Don’t give up on your prayer life. Prayer is when God talks the most and his power is acquired. Just like the first day of a new job, the more you talk the more you will know. The more you talk to God the more He will talk back and you will know Him.

k, good talk

-J

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