Knowing how to pray is so important for Christians. To paraphrase the Shorter Catechism, woman’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Her forever. Prayer helps us do just that.
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What is Christian Prayer?
Before you can learn how to pray, you first need to understand Christian prayer. The simplest explanation of Christian prayer is a conversation between you and God. This conversation can be about anything, and this conversation can include other people, like prayers shared at church or said before a meal.
Why Should Christians Pray?
Christians should pray because the Bible tells us to pray. However, beyond that, Christians choose to pray for many reasons.
- confession and forgiveness
- requests for self
- requests for others
- connection to God
- spiritual guidance
You can also pray just to chat with God. God always wants to hear from you!
What Does the Bible Say About How to Pray?
The entire Bible encourages believers to pray. Psalms is even a collection of songs and prayers which you can use to strengthen your prayer life.
For now, let’s just focus on two parts of the New Testament that address prayer.
The Sermon on the Mount
One of the best-known passages in the Bible is the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus teaches His followers about righteousness and God’s kingdom. You can read the entire sermon in Matthew, starting at Matthew 5:1 and ending at Matthew 7:29.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His followers how to pray. First, He instructed them to go to a quiet place where they would not be distracted. Next, He told them to be honest and humble with their words. Finally, He gave the example of what we now call the Lord’s Prayer.
In this prayer, Jesus teaches us to address God as “our Father,” to ask for God’s help in times of need, and to forgive others as we have been forgiven.
This simple yet powerful prayer encapsulates the message of the Sermon on the Mount: that we should strive for righteousness and compassion in our lives, and trust in God’s mercy and grace. As we pray these words, we are reminded of the beauty and wonder of God’s love for us, and our call to follow Jesus.
By following these instructions, we develop a personal relationship with God. Through prayer, we can share our joys and concerns with Them and receive guidance and comfort from Them. This is why prayer is an essential part of the Christian life.
What the Epistles Say About How to Pray
The Epistles are a collection of 21 letters written by various authors in the New Testament. These letters were written to churches or individuals. They offer instruction on how to live out the Christian faith, including how to pray.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us to prayer about everything and anything. No worry is too small to bring to the Lord. When we ask God for help, we should also thank God for what They have already done. By sharing our worries with God, we can experience God’s peace.
In Colossians 4:2-4, we are instructed to be devoted to prayer, praying with intention and gratitude. We are to pray for others. Finally, we specifically need to ask God to grant all believers the opportunity to share the gospel and the ability to do so clearly.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to pray without ceasing. This is one of my favorite Bible verses about prayer. It reminds me to say little prayers throughout the day.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, we are instructed to pray for all people, including those in authority. Our prayers please God.
These are just a few verses from the Epistles to guide your prayer life.
5 Ways to Pray to God
Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life, but it can sometimes feel like we don’t know how to pray or what to say. When you’re just learning how to pray, it’s helpful to use some sort of structure. There are five easy ways to pray.
- Pray with scripture
- Use acronyms to pray
- Pray the Rosary
- Recite the Lord’s prayer
- Use a prayer book
How to Pray with Scripture
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.Colossians 3:16
One helpful way to pray is to use scripture. Scripture provides us with examples of how to pray, as well as guidance on what to say. It can be helpful to start first by reading a passage of scripture out loud, then by reading the scripture again silently.
As you read, pay attention to the words and phrases that stand out to you. What speaks to you in this moment? What do you need God’s help with? Use these phrases as the basis for your prayer.
Don’t worry if your thoughts feel disjointed or jumbled; just speak from your heart and let the words flow. Remember, there is no wrong way to pray with scripture.
By praying scripture, we align our hearts with God.
ACTS Acronym for How to Pray
I’ve been using the ACTS acronym for several years now. Each letter stands for a word that describes part of your prayer.
- Adoration (praising God)
- Confession (honestly confessing sins and asking for forgiveness)
- Thanksgiving (thanking God)
- Supplication (asking God for help)
I don’t use the ACTS prayer method for all of my daily prayers, but it’s helpful when I want to pray a structured prayer.
How to Pray the Rosary
The Rosary is a powerful Catholic prayer that has been used for centuries to help people focus on Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. It consists of repeating certain prayers while holding a string of beads, which helps to keep track of where you are in the prayer. The most important part of the Rosary is meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary, which are events in the lives of Jesus and Mary that we can reflect on and learn from.
How to Pray the Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is based off the prayer Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-13) and also taught in Luke 11:2-4. Different Christian denominations will use slightly differing language for the Lord’s Prayer. This is what my parents taught me when I was a child.
Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in heaven.
Gives us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.
When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, don’t allow the familiarity lessen the impact. Recite the words slowly. Pause and reflect after each line. Pray the Lord’s Prayer with intention.
How to Use a Prayer Book
If you’re new to prayer, using a prayer book can be a helpful way to get started. Prayer books provide a structure for your prayers, and they can also give you ideas for what to pray about. Additionally, using a physical book can help you focus and stay on track with your prayers.
My mom wrote a prayer book based on her experiences as a middle-aged wife and mother.
I keep Hi God: It’s Me Again on my nightstand.
Common Questions About Christian Prayer
When you’re first learning how to pray, it can feel overwhelming. Don’t stress about it! God wants to hear from you, even if you’re just silently pouring out your feelings, unable to form words.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Christian prayer.
What if I don’t know what to pray?
Don’t overthink how to pray. Just open up your heart to God. You can even ask God to help you pray. If you need help getting started, try one of the methods above. As you get into the habit of prayer, you will feel more comfortable praying on your own. However, it’s okay to keep using prayer resources! I still use the ACTS prayer method plus prayer books.
How do I start a prayer?
Address God. This can be simple or complex, whatever feels right. Here are just a few ideas:
- Hi God
- Dear Lord
- Our Father who art in heaven
- Dear Heavenly Mother
How do I finish a prayer?
You can always finish your prayer with a simple Amen. However, ending your prayer can be a confession of faith. Here are several ideas to state prior to Amen:
- In Christ’s name I pray
- I pray this trusting and believing in You
- To God be the glory, forever and ever
- For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever
- In the strong and loving name of Jesus
- Thank you for loving me and listening to me
Is it okay to just talk to God?
Yes! Prayer is just a conversation between you and God. Structure can help you focus your thoughts, but it’s okay to just chat honestly with God.
Is it okay to pray while in bed?
Yes! My nightly prayers are in bed every night. Praying in bed, before you fall asleep, is a great way to end your day. That said, if you have trouble staying awake to pray, you might be better off praying before you climb into bed.
Is there a wrong way to pray?
As long as you’re honest in your prayers, there’s not a wrong way to pray. That said, using one of the above methods will help you cover the main points of prayer. It’s okay if some of your prayers are brief and focused on a single subject, but over the course of a day, you do want to pray all the basics.
Can God hear my prayers?
Yes, God hears your prayers. God is always listening!
The Last Thing You Should Know About Prayer
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good! Any sincere prayer is a good prayer.
Even if you’re praying out loud while commuting to work, or you’re praying while doing chores around the house. God is still listening.
Even if you keep getting distracted during prayer (hello anxiety and ADHD!). God still wants to hear from you.
If you’re looking for more prayer resources, I can help! Discover prayer prompts, prayer printables, and more, all completely free to download.
If you have a question about prayer I haven’t addressed, please let me know! You can leave a comment here, contact me on social media, or send me an email.