Prayer is one of those “basic” parts of Christianity that’s easy to overlook. On the opposite side, it’s also easy to take things too far when we pray. Have you noticed your prayers becoming too simplistic or too much of an elaborate ceremony? If you’ve fallen into either trap, you’re probably wondering how to improve your prayer life. What did Jesus say about this?
Rereading the Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is a beautiful go-to example of what a prayer should look like. But simply praying the prayer as written misses the whole point of what Jesus was saying. The Lord’s Prayer is how we pray, not what we pray. Let’s take a look at the principles behind this prayer:
- Acknowledge who God is
- Pray for God’s will
- Present your needs
- Confess your sins
- Offer thanks
1) Acknowledge Who God Is
Christians tend to either emphasize God’s omnipotence and power at the expense of His personal relationship with us, or vice versa. Notice the Lord’s Prayer addresses God as Father, but also adds that His name is holy. As you pray, keep both of these attributes of God in mind. He is our Father, but He is also the Creator and King. He deserves both our love and our utmost reverence when we pray.
Pro Tip: If you find yourself focusing more on God’s power and neglecting His personal connection to you or vice versa, try studying verses that pertain to other attributes of God to sharpen your perspective.
2) Pray for God’s Will
Praying for God’s will to be done shows that we want the same things God does. Not only does this demonstrate humility and a willingness to submit to God’s will, but it also shows God that we trust Him. After all, He sees everything and knows what will happen, when, and why. We can and should be confident that His will is for our ultimate good.
3) Present Your Needs
We should never be embarrassed about presenting God with our daily needs, no matter how small. Remember, God loves us and has promised to supply all our needs. All we have to do is present Him with what we need. Whether it’s as fundamental as your daily food (like in the Lord’s Prayer) or as simple as a good night’s sleep for a productive workday, there’s no shame in asking God for help.
4) Confess Your Sins
If your relationship with God is hindered due to sin in your life, it’s time to confess that sin and get back on track. Examine your heart and ask God for forgiveness for your sins, especially habitual ones that you struggle to control. God will always accept a sincere apology and help you do better in the future.
5) Offer Thanks
Think about everything God has done for you. From salvation, to your friends, to a good home, He has provided many good things for you. When did you last say thank you? There’s always something we can thank God for, whether it’s as huge as salvation or as small as seeing a rainbow on the way to work. Thank God for everything you have and every good thing you’ve experienced.
Develop a Closer Connection to God
While prayer is talking to God and spending time with Him, leaving the definition there doesn’t do us any favors. Prayer is ultimately about communicating with the Creator of the universe and treating Him as both our Father and our God. Keeping the principles of the Lord’s Prayer in mind as you pray is sure to help improve your prayer life and bolster your relationship with God.
Join the conversation to see how fellow believers pray.