How to Pray Effectively: a Step-By-Step Guide from Jesus Himself
Growing up (and sometimes still to this day) I had a hard time talking to people. Social anxiety was a real struggle for me throughout my life. It kept me from truly socializing with others, especially those that I felt were above me or that intimidated me in anyway.
I just didn’t know what to say or how to say it!
It was always so frustrating and caused me to stay to the sidelines. I was a wallflower that kept to herself and avoided social interaction.
It was the easiest way to deal with my problem, but it left me lonely and unable to build relationships.
Maybe you’ve had the same feeling, but not necessarily with other humans. Maybe you’ve been feeling this way with God!
Does talking with God intimidate you? Are you afraid that you won’t say the right thing or correctly follow some secret formula for prayer? Do you know you need to pray because it’s a part of living a Godly life, but you just aren’t sure how to do it?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then I first want you to take a deep breath and let go of any of the anxiety, expectations, or weight that you’ve been holding on to.
You can breathe easy because of what Jesus says in John 5:15. “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” God wants to be our friend and our confidant. He wants to tell us things and He wants us to tell Him things, too!
Do you get intimidated when you talk to your friends, or always wonder if you’re doing it right? Probably not, and it should be the same way with God!
In Philippians 4:6-7 it says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God isn’t afraid of our emotions or anything we have to say. Even when we’re anxious, He wants us to come to Him. And on top of that, He will give us peace. What an awesome friend God is!
What Does Jesus Say?
Now that we’ve established that God shouldn’t be some big, huge, unapproachable intimidator in the sky, let’s talk about how Jesus himself instructed us to pray.
There’s not really an exact “formula” for prayer, but in Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus gives us some tips on how to make praying easier. Here’s the verse in its entirety:
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’"
It’s a little lengthy and maybe a bit overwhelming, so I’m gonna break it down for ya.
When you pray:
Address the Lord with respect and praise His name. (“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”)
Ask for what you need. (“Give us today our daily bread”)
But always ask for God’s will overall. (“Your will be done”)
Ask for forgiveness for your sins. (“And forgive us our debts”)
But only after you’ve forgiven others. (“As we also have forgiven our debtors”)
Ask for strength against temptation to sin. (“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”)
Give thanks. (“By prayer… with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6)
Pray to show off. (“Do not be like the hypocrites… for they love to pray… to be seen by others.”)
Pray to hear yourself talk. (“Do not keep on babbling”)
Praying to God should be like talking to a friend. Address Him with respect, but tell Him what’s on your mind. Ask for the help you need and be confident in His will for your life. Trust Him and show that you want Him near. Because at the end of the day, that’s all He wants too!
When we don’t make time to pray or avoid it altogether, it makes it hard to build a relationship with the Lord. Just like how social anxiety made it hard for me to build relationships with other people. Not praying can leave us feeling a little lost and lonely in our Christian walk.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” There’s no need to hesitate anymore, my friend. God is waiting on you with open arms right now in this very moment. Go on and tell Him everything you’ve been holding back :)
Put It Into Practice
Still need a little help? That’s ok! I’ve put together a FREE, downloadable prayer guide that I can send straight to your inbox! It includes a broken down outline of how I structure my own prayers based on what we learned above, and even a few pre-written prayers for when you’re just not sure what words to say!
I created it to make it easier for you to put what we've learned into practice and start building a stronger relationship with God right away! I hope it blesses your prayer life and walk with the Lord like never before! :)
Yours in Christ,
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14
“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12
“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16