HOW TO PRAY 201
If you have not read my post, "How to pray 101" I would start there first.
After writing how to pray 101, I had been really inspired to write more about this topic. Prayer is such an important part in our relationship with Christ. I hope to create a series about prayer to equip and inspire you to pursue a deeper and communicatively rich relationship with Christ.
I had asked on my social media for y'all to write some questions you had about prayer. The response was great and the questions were soo good. I'm going to do my best to answer a lot of those questions in this post. But if you don't see your question answered, don't worry, the series isn't done!
How do you know what to pray about?
A few years ago, I went as a leader on this conference in Mauston, WI called, "Crave Conference". I think it was one morning before we were going to the final session, we all sat down for breakfast. When it was time to pray, you could hear crickets. No one wanted to pray. After a kid was voted to pray, he ended up admitting that he didn't know what to pray about.
I think that often times can find ourselves in that position. Personally, there has been times where I have been at a lack of words for my situation, and literally had no idea what to pray about. Or there would be times when the youth pastors would ask the adults to come to the front to pray over the kids and that gives me such terror because in those moments, I have no idea what to pray about!
I've been thinking about 2 things here to help us figure out what we can pray about.
1. Pray what you want to see happen
I'm not saying to pray for bobby Jo to be your boyfriend because you want to see that happen. I am saying, if you want to see someone in your life get saved, pray about that. If you want to see your faith grow, pray about that. As I said in my last post, prayer isn't about eloquence, prayer is about communication. Present your requests before God!
2. Have imagination
This is where I sometimes struggle. I think that we have a hard time look at situations surrounding a prayer request.
I used to be on staff at Crosspoint and every Tuesday we would pray over all of the prayer requests that got sent in. I would listen to others pray and they would have this very sincere and descriptive prayer over a line that said, "Pray for Mandy who is going through a tough time". Like how on earth did they know how to pray like that?!
I think that there is many other aspects to pray for rather than the" tough time" she was going through. You can pray for God to shower her in His love, or to mend her heart, or to give her peace during this time. It goes beyond just praying for someone, but for caring for someone. Even if it's a stranger. With every prayer my fellow staff members prayed were full of compassion. Thats what changed the way they prayed. They prayed for these people as though they knew them, and I truly admired that.
Tips on how to get better at knowing what to pray for
- Pray continuously! The Bible says to pray without ceasing (1 These 5:17), so do just that. Be continuous in your prayers. Not every single second of the day, but through out the day when you have a second to your thoughts, pray about something. If you're holding angry feelings towards someone, pray about it. If someone looks like they are sad, pray for them.
- Practice praying for people! The only way you get better is to practice. I encourage you to have friendships where you can ask others to pray for you, and others will ask you to pray for them. If you don't, get them. My favorite question that I get asked is, "How can I be praying for you today?". Like how much does someone love you to ask and that they would take the time to pray for you.
- Another thing I'm bad at, if someone texts me and says, "Hey can you pray for..." I will type yes, and I actually won't remember until later. I'm trying to get into a habit of stopping what I'm doing and taking the second to pray for what they asked. A step beyond that is writing them down. I have a spot in my goals journal where I write down prayer requests. Another step would be to follow up and see how God has answered your prayers!
- Go to scripture! Look at the ways that the people in the Bible prayed -- better yet, look at how JESUS prayed. (again, an example featured in my last post)
How do you stay focused during prayer?
When I first got to Life Church, they did this thing before youth group called, "Pre-service Prayer". People would just go off into any place in the room, walk around, and pray. The music was on, and I felt super distracted. I was raised in an environment where we did a one-and-done kind of prayer. We would circle up together while a few people prayed. During a few of my experiences with this pre-service prayer, I felt uncomfortable, and totally unfocused.
When I would pray, I would first just talk to God about how distracted I was. But gradually, the music seemed to grow dim and my passion during prayer grew. One thing that helped me stay focused is the reason why I was praying. I love the youth here. I want as many kids to come to know the Lord as possible in the Milwaukee area. The more that I (1) set my gaze on the desires of God, and (2) focused on the reason I was praying, it became a little more easy.
Limit the distractions if you can help it.
If you get lost between your thoughts and the lyrics from a new Bethel song, you might need to turn down the music.
Sometimes you just need to sit
For me, if I'm feeling super distracted and cannot seem to stay on track with prayer, I'll sit in his presence because at that point I need God more than he needs me to speak. It's not an excuse to check out, but its maybe what I needed in that moment. Pay attention to your distractions. Is it an external distraction or is it an internal distraction?
I hope that you took away something from this post and that it helps give you ideas on how to strengthen your prayer life. You can't expect to have a relationship with someone if you do not talk with them. Stay tuned as we continue this series of prayer together.