How to Pray

Prayer is not about a set of rules — it’s all about building our relationship with God. It’s about conversation, both expressing yourself and listening. Here are some suggestions for making your prayer time effective.

Focus — don’t do two things at once.

Multi-tasking is not a virtue when it comes to prayer. Sure, you can pray while you’re driving your car (sometimes it’s very necessary!), but don’t let that be the only time you pray. You can talk to a friend while you’re driving, but if they’re really a close friend, you will find time to spend with them when you can just talk and share the joys of having a close friend. It’s the same thing with God.

Get away; find a quiet place where you can unwind and be you.

That might be found in your bedroom or living room, on the back porch, or even in the garage. Don’t be afraid to try something different!

God knows who you are — you don’t have to pretend.

Talk about what’s on your mind instead of what you think you’re supposed to. This is a conversation, not a laundry list. Prayer is good therapy!

Don’t try to impress God (or anyone else) by your eloquence or by using “thee” and “thou” or being sickeningly sweet, but pray to God as in conversation with a good friend.

Talk out loud. Don’t be restricted by posture.

Nowhere does scripture say that prayer must be on one’s knees. It may be walking and talking. It may be sitting and talking to the “empty chair,” picturing that Jesus is sitting with us as we talk with him.

Make a prayer list or journal for consistency and to track progress.

Develop a list that you can pray over with focused prayer. Then review the list at the end of three months and see what has happened. Then review your list, making adjustments for the next three months.

Suggestions for a prayer list/journal:

  • What is your greatest source of stress right now?
  • What do you fear the most right now?
  • What is the greatest challenge you face over the next three months?
  • What do you need or desire you don’t have now?
  • What change do you need to make in your life?
  • What do you think is the most important thing God wants you to do in the next three months?

It takes discipline to get started, and to stick with it.

Schedule a time during the day for prayer time. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or at lunchtime (shutting the office door or going to sit in the car), whether it’s first thing when coming home (before fixing dinner or checking messages), or last thing before bed, try to fix a time into your schedule for a week to see how it’s working at that given time and to begin to develop a habit.

When you’re distracted during prayer time:

By random thoughts: Try a “Parking Lot.” Have a note pad where you can write down random thoughts so they won’t continue to be a distraction. You can come back to them later.

If your space is too noisy: Find another place. Some people even go the garage or bathroom to have some uninterrupted peace!

Some “Conversation Starters” for Effective Prayer:

Begin with singing or listening to a praise song.

Things God wants to hear from you:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • What is weighing on you?
  • What are you excited about?
  • What’s going well?
  • What are you ashamed of?
  • What needs to change?
  • What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this past week?
  • What’s the worst?
  • Do you feel like you’re going too fast or too slow in life?
  • What are you especially thankful for this week?
  • Do you love Me?

Things we want to hear from God:

  • How do you feel about my past day or week?
  • Where did I do well?
  • Where did I fall short?
  • Do you still love me?

Lift specific requests.

Close with something like this:

“God, I ask you to reveal yourself to me. I want to know you, your dreams, your hopes, your concerns, your desires. Please reveal yourself to me.”

Be alert, listening as you go forward.