Updated: Mar 8, 2019
I’m about to be really honest… So there’s your fair warning. I want to share some info with you that I wish someone would have come down off their high and holy horse and shared with me a long time ago. A lot of people may want to pray, but they just don’t know how. Even if you’ve grown up in a church, it can seem like praying is a skill that you have to be perfect at for God to hear you or accept your prayer as valid. How many times have you heard people say, “Just pray about it” as if everyone should automatically know how to do that, and silently in the back of your mind you’re crying out, “HOW?! HELP!” Well here are 6 real life tips for helping you learn how to pray effectively.
1. Make the time. Yes, I know you’re busy (blah, blah, blah) we all are. But the problem with the prayer life of a lot of people is that they simply don’t make the time for it. Your desire to even want to talk to God is pleasing to Him. God is more concerned about us spending time with Him than whether we are doing and saying all the right things.
It’s kind of like visiting your grandparents. It doesn’t matter if you guys sit in silence on the porch or watch bad TV, what means the most is that you made the time for them.
And how many of you got rewarded during that time spent with them. Did they take you out to dinner? Or shopping? Or even slid you some cash?! It’s the same way with God, but only better!! He will reward you for the time you spend with Him. Just imagine the rewards that God, RULER OF ALL THINGS, can bring into your life!
God yearns to hear our voices and to have our attention. It means so much to Him for us to carve out a part of our day just to focus on Him.
I found so much freedom in something I once read from Joyce Meyer. It simply said… “Prayer doesn’t have to be long to be powerful. All that matters is that our prayers are Spirit-led, heart-filled, and spoken in true faith.”
Which brings me to my next tip…
2. Speak from your heart, not your religion. When you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over)…Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
I don’t know how you’ll feel about this but I’m about to tell you something that isn’t said a lot:
God doesn’t care what your religion is. He just doesn’t…. and that’s Bible, I’m not making that up. (See Acts 10:28,34-35 & 11:17)
There was a time when, if you needed something from God, you had to kill a bunch of animals, burn up a bunch of stuff on a sacred alter, go to a priest, tell Him all of your secret, embarrassing, shameful business and ask for forgiveness so then he could go to God on your behalf. TooMuch.com!
Well because Jesus thought you were worth dying for, all of that is unnecessary now. Hallelujah! We now have His Spirit on the inside of us. Because of this, we don’t have to make sure every single rule of religion is in place to access Him. All we have to do is call His name and be sincere. So forget the “for art thou’s” and religiosity of it all and just tell him what’s in your heart. Don’t feel like you have to perform for Him. This is the freedom that Jesus died to give us!
3. Pray the Word
The most powerful and effective prayers we can pray are scriptures. Praying the Word of God puts God in remembrance of His promises to you and ensures that you are praying about things that He cares about and wants for you. God values the Word even over His own name. If He deems it necessary to elevate it over even Himself then we should be quoting the Bible like our lives depend on it! Because it pretty much does.
But there’s just one catch: You can’t pray the Word if you don’t know it. So if you really want to get some prayers heard and answered in a powerful way then you have to make a point to read, understand, meditate on, and live the Word of God.
I won’t lie, it does take a great deal of discipline and consistency on your part. You may even fall asleep on it a few times (I know I have), but don’t give up!! Start small and then work your way up! There are so many modern-day Bible translations, Bible apps, and Daily Devotionals available. And if you’re still having a hard time getting into it and understanding it, then that’s the beauty of weekly Bible Study services…. Go to church! *angelic smile*
4. Come as you are. I’ve heard so many people talk about putting off their relationship with God because of the mistakes they were making. They felt like they needed to “get right” before they came to God or even attended church.
Well listen… nothing and no one can be made right without God. NOTHING and NO ONE!
If you are depending on yourself to make you right then you have already failed. If that were even possible then we wouldn’t even need God. The Bible says to rejoice in your flaws and weaknesses because that is where God shows His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). So when you pray, bring your flaws, bring your sins, bring your secrets, bring your addictions, bring your questions.
I know quite a few people who literally had an encounter with God while drunk, high, or worse and became saved. God will meet you where you are if you let Him! He’s right there with you in your mess anyway; you might as well acknowledge Him.
5. Approach Him as His child. A true father is ready and willing at any second to lay down his life for his child. (I mean, hello! You remember the crucifixion of Christ right??) Well this is why we can call God our Father. Everything that comes your way to hurt you, His response is, “No, no. Don’t worry yourself, I got you. Just tell me what’s wrong and what you need and I’ll work everything out. Go be peaceful.”
He’s your protector and provider and there’s no amount of wrong that you could do to separate you from His love. Have you ever messed up, and I mean really messed up? And you go to your Dad in desperation. What’s the first thing you say, probably before bursting into tears and begging for forgiveness? You probably let out a pitiful “Daddyyy…” *cue the dramatic sobs* “Daddy I need you, Daddy they hurt me, Daddy I need help, I know I messed up but I just need my Daddy!” Right??
Well God is that for you. Go to Him in prayer when you’re in trouble, when your heart is broken, when you don’t know what to do. Ask Him to fix it. You are His child. The only thing He won’t do for you is what He knows isn’t good for you. And when you don’t have the words to say, He can hear the prayer in your tears as well.
6. Keep it real. He already knows what you’re feeling and thinking before it even crosses your heart, your mind, or your lips. Don’t insult God by coming to Him pretending to be something that you aren’t. He wants your honesty: The raw, real truth. The devil will use your exact likes and dislikes to try and trip you up, so you have to be able to go to God and say, “Look Lord, I’m trying to be patient and kind and all of that but I need your help to keep from slapping *insert annoying person’s name* into next week!!” Or “Lord, keep me from lusting after this fineman that you created but does not belong to me, in Jesus’ name!” (Yeah I use that one quite often…) God knows you! Every low down, dirty morsel of you! Trust Him with your honesty. He can handle it.
Praying is a lot like investing quality time into any relationship. The more time you spend with a person, the better you know them and the closer you become. You can’t call someone a friend if you only talk to them once a year or if you only call them when you need something from them. We’ve all had a friend like that, and after a while, we stop answering when they call. If you want God to answer when you call, then make sure He has the pleasure of hearing from you often. He’s probably waiting to hear from you right now.
What helps you to pray effectively?