How Do We Pray?

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“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it,” John 14:12-14 (ESV)

But how do we pray?

Tim Keller writes, “Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. . . . We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.” [i]

How is your prayer life? Do you enjoy prayer? Are you intimidated when you are asked to pray in a group?

Prayers in the Bible

Throughout the Bible, we see men and women praying. We see Hannah sobbing before the Lord asking for a son, and in the next chapter of 1 Samuel, we see her presenting Samuel to God and praising the Lord. 

We see Isaiah before the throne of God in Isaiah 6, and he is struck by God’s holiness and his uncleanness, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips and dwell among people of unclean lips.” 

We see Nehemiah serving King Xerxes, and the king asks him why he’s sad, and Nehemiah shoots up a prayer to God and he receives favor.

We see Esther call for a three-day fast before she entered King Xerxes’ presence in an effort to save her people.

Daniel prayed for the nation of Israel, confessing its sins and asking God to act on behalf of the nation. 

Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus praying. He publicly gives thanks, He goes up to the mountain top and spends all night praying before choosing the 12 disciples.

In John 17, Jesus prayed that God would glorify Him and that He would glorify God, He prayed for His disciples and for you and me.  He took His disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to sit while He prayed.

Our Savior took Peter, James, and John with Him a little further and told them that His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. Jesus asked them to stay in that place and watch with Him. Then He went further and asked the Father to let the cup of the cross pass from Him, and ended His prayer with “nevertheless, not My will but Your will be done.” And Jesus prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross.

If the Old Testament saints and Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray?

Prayer Patterns 

We can pattern our prayers after Scripture, like praying Psalm 23 by personalizing it and speaking to God from our hearts.

We can follow a pattern like the ACTS acronym.

  • Adoration
  • Confession
  • Thanksgiving
  • Supplication. 

Jesus taught His disciples a pattern of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.

“In this manner, therefore, pray: 
Our Father in heaven, 
Hallowed be Your name. 
Your kingdom come. 
Your will be done 
On earth as [it is] in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, 
As we forgive our debtors. 
And do not lead us into temptation, 
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” 

This prayer points us to what matters.

  • Honoring God by acknowledging His majesty and holiness.
  • Desiring His will, for we are citizens of His kingdom.
  • Asking Him to provide for our daily needs.
  • Confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness.
  • Acknowledging that we forgive others.
  • Requesting protection from sin and the evil one
  • Praising God’s eternal kingdom, power, and glory. 

Patterns are examples that especially help us when we’re new to prayer. Yet, when we open our hearts to the Lord and allow our hearts’ cries and desires to guide our fellowship with Him, we draw closer to God. Intimate prayer is like boldly entering the throne room of God, sitting at God’s feet, beholding His glory, breathing in His amazing love, enjoying His company, and calling Him “Abba,” Daddy.

God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus). 

We pray in God’s will. But we must know God’s will. That’s why we must study God’s Word and pray with a listening heart.

Is there a proper way to pray? 

Paul writes “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Who can do that?

Brother Lawrence was a 17th-century Christian who worked in the kitchen of a Carmelite monastery in Paris. Whether he was cooking or washing pots and pans, Brother Lawrence was focused on God. He was in a constant state of conversation with God. The monks noticed that he had something different, and they wanted it. Word spread about him, and people throughout Europe came to sit in the kitchen to observe Brother Lawrence at work. 

He said, “Our only business was to love and delight ourselves in God.”[ii] This Brother lived in a prolonged prayer pause. A pause to talk with God, listen to Him, and rest in Him. Brother Lawrence kept busy cleaning and cooking, but his focus was always on God. He didn’t let what could have been distractions interfere with his relationship with God. 

Modern-Day Prayer Example

An example might be, as you’re scrubbing the burnt pot after dinner, you thank God for sending Jesus to cleanse you from your sin with His blood. 

On your way to work, you might thank God that He prepared the works for you to do, and He has equipped you to accomplish them. 

Paul shows us how in Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness [or sweet reasonableness] be known to all men. The Lord [is] at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication [request], with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Prolonged Prayer Pause

Pondering God’s grace and mercy produces prolonged prayer pauses even in pandemonium.

Like Brother Lawrence, we can learn how to remain in a prolonged prayer pause in the midst of chaos.

  • Rejoice always in the Lord, for He is our everything
  • Recognize the presence of God
  • Be gentle and sweetly reasonable
  • Fear nothing for God provides our requests that are according to His will.
  • Enjoy peace with God–the evil one can’t enslave us.
  • Meditate on all that is pure and praiseworthy, for His kingdom, His glory, and His power are our prayers. We want His kingdom and His will to reign on earth.
  • Thank Him for everything.

Prayer As Conversation

How do we pray? We pour out our hearts to God and spend time with Him.




Talk to Him as we would to a loving Father.  

Our loving Father wants us to have a normal conversation with Him.

We don’t need flowery words. We can pray as we talk. As we abide in Jesus and His words, the Holy Spirit will refine our prayers. 

Author Susie Larson writes, “To be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, to be filled to the spilling-over brim with the all-surpassing love of Christ, is to be transformed from the inside out; it’s to dare to come boldly into God’s great presence and to ask Him for the impossible, unachievable, inconceivable, and unbelievable. Because this is what heirs do. … Prayer links us in fellowship with almighty God. His promises belong to us.” [iii]

My Prayer

Our heavenly Father, may we honor Your holy name. We ask that Your kingdom reign on earth. Teach us Your good and perfect will, and may Your will reign on earth. Give us our daily needs. Cause us to see our brothers and sisters in need, and give us the means and willingness to be generous. Forgive us for our self-centeredness. As we realize how great our sins have been and that You have forgiven us, cause us to forgive others. Put Your shield of protection around us, for we stand on the Rock that is higher than us. The earth, the heavens, and everything that You have made is Yours forever. Blessed be Your holy and precious name. Amen.

What are your favorite ways to pray?

[i] Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, p. 5

[ii] Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God. (Lightheart,, 2002), 13.

[iii] Susie Larson, Your Powerful Prayers, p. 69

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