Feb 10, 2011 How We Pray
Originally posted on January 17, 2008
Everyone knows what prayer is, but many people would say they don’t know how to pray. That usually means they don’t know what to say, or how to say it in a way that makes them feel like they are really praying. Most people think there is some secret to prayer, they just haven’t learned it.
There is no secret to prayer. God has told us plainly how to pray. Here at Grace, we are emphasizing four of God’s instructions for how to pray.
1. Pray in Jesus’ name. This is a misunderstood aspect of prayer. Some think that all Jesus meant when he told us to ask in His name (John 14:13-14) is that we are to add the words “in Jesus’ name” to our prayers. It is a good practice to say those words when we pray, but Jesus meant much more than that.
To pray in Jesus’ name means that when we pray, we are aware that we can pray because Jesus died for our sins and removed the barrier between God and us. We pray because Jesus opened the way to God. When we come to God to pray, we do so having been made right with God by faith in Jesus. We pray by the authority of Jesus because He told us to ask for the things that bring glory to Him and advance His purposes in the world. To ask in Jesus’ name declares the victory Jesus won at the cross over sin and Satan.
It is a helpful practice to bring to mind the thoughts and to say the words that acknowledge that we are praying in Jesus’ name.
2. Pray according to God’s will. This prayer instruction is given in I John 5:14-15. The best way I know to pray according to the will of God is to pray for a person, a situation, or myself using the word of God, the Bible. This way of praying has changed my prayer life. I think of the person I am praying for. I have a verse of Scripture in mind. Then, I ask in many practical ways for the truth in that verse to be made real in the life of that person. I can usually think of five or ten things to ask for a person that are directly related to what God said in the verse I am praying. When I do this, I know that I am praying what God wants, which is His will.
3. Pray in faith. The apostle James told us to pray in faith (James 1:5-8). I have come to see that my faith is not in God doing everything I ask in the way and time I ask, but in God Himself. I ask believing that God intends to and will respond to my prayers. I ask knowing that God is using my prayers to advance His purposes in others and in me. In prayer, I am asking and trusting at the same time. This pleases God.
4. Pray together. What power there is when two or more people gather together to pray. Praying together increases focus, adds endurance, builds faith, and spreads joy. It builds fellowship among us and expands ministry through us. Corporate prayer was one of the main activities Jesus and the disciples shared, and one of the primary elements of the early church’s life together.
More could be said about how to pray, but this should help us. As J.I. Packer said, it’s “simple but demanding”. Let’s resolve to pray.