“Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY, JUST AS JOHN TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES.” (Luke 11:1, NLT)
It is from the above scripture that the Lord’s prayer emanated. The Lord’s prayer is a model prayer. It teaches what to pray about and most importantly how to make prayers effective. Below are better ways to pray:
Prayer should be relational, and not religious: Jesus started the Lord’s prayer with “Our Father in Heaven.” It is noteworthy that literally everybody prays but many prayers are religious prayers. Religion is practices man engages in that he or she thinks is acceptable to God. But God wants relationship; He wants people to be born again and be renewed in their spirit man by the Holy Spirit. Then a relationship with God can start that makes the recipient of this grace to commune with Him acceptably (John 4:24). God is Spirit, and He is only truly reached by those who have the Holy Spirit resident within them.
Prayer should be God-focused, and not need-focused: Many people pray because of the myriad of needs in their lives. It is not wrong to approach God with our needs. The model Lord’s prayer shows us that we should take our needs to God. The challenge is that God is very relational. The Bible tells us that God will come in the cool of the day to fellowship with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). This first couple in the Garden of Eden (before their Fall) didn’t have any need. Whenever God came to them, the intent was to fellowship with them. We can infer rightly that Adam and Eve’s dialogue with God was centered around His wonders of creation, and not needs. Everyday they saw a side of God that was hitherto unknown to them and was awe-inspiring. A better way to pray is to magnify God, appreciate Him for His lovely attributes and talk of His wonders (Psalm 105:2).
Prayer should be meditative, and not vain: Jesus said we shouldn’t pray vainly in a repetitive manner (Matthew 6:7). Effective prayers are not recitals, but rather they are heartfelt. It is not just from the head; it is from the heart. Meditation gives substance to our prayers. Taking time to digest relevant scriptures before praying is like the body breaking down food in the stomach and absorbing the its nutrients in the small intestine, while the useless (vain) elements are passed out as waste. Vain prayers lacking substance are ineffective (Scripture reference: John 15:7).
Prayer should be proactive, and not reactive: Please note the subject topic is a better way to pray. By affirming God’s promises, making scripture declarations regularly, and praying in tongues or in the Spirit, we are praying proactively or in advance and ahead of circumstances. A reactionary prayer can be found in Acts 12 when the church was been persecuted. The patriarch James had just been murdered and Peter was arrested thereafter, kept in prison and awaiting execution. The church started praying after the arrest of Peter fearing that what happened to James will also happen to him. The problem with always praying reactively is that it makes us lose territories or at times even lose the battle. It is often rightly said that the best defense is a good offense.
Prayer should be prayed in faith, and not in fear: Just waking up from a bad dream or a nightmare will set many people, including some Christians, into a panic mode. Rather than just praying spontaneously about the nightmare, the better thing to do is to relax and switch to a faith mode. Reminding oneself of scriptures like, “Be still and know that I am God” or “God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble” or pulling out the Bible to assure one’s mind about His promises is a better way of approach. Starting to pray immediately after getting a bad medical report from the doctor will be tantamount to praying in a panic mode. It’s always better after a jolting news to calm down and then strategize. The Holy Spirit is best heard when we are still, and not panicky. It is the prayer of faith that gets the job done, and not prayer of anxiety (Scripture reference: Philippians 4:6-7).
CONCLUSION: It’s my prayer that the Holy Spirit, the Teacher Himself, will teach us better ways to pray and to be effective in prayers. Have a blessed new month!