Prayer is meant to be a time of communion with God. It is meant to be as enjoyable as talking with a friend and as comforting as talking to a father. There are many Christians that are not experiencing this, so I thought it would be helpful to address what it is that we should say when we are praying.
Jesus gave us a perfect outline of what we should say when we pray. He gave us four different parts of prayer: (1) praise and worship, (2) praying for others and the advancement of God’s Kingdom, (3) praying for our own needs, and then (4) ending it with praise and worship.
Now, if you look at Matthew 6:9-13 you will find, what many call, the Lord’s prayer. This is the prayer that I am basing this outline on.
Many believe that this prayer is meant to be recited word for word, but that is not what Jesus intended it to be used for. In fact, He specifically warned against praying with “vain repetitions” (Matt. 6:7) just moments before. So, if we repeat this prayer, word for word, day after day, that would be in the category of vain repetitions. [Related article: The Lord’s Prayer (Common Questions Answered)].
Instead, Jesus intended it to be an outline for us, to assist us in having a close relationship with God and having an effective prayer life. I know this because Jesus said that this prayer is a “manner” of praying.
Right before He gave us the Lord’s prayer, He said, “In this manner, therefore, pray…” (Matthew 6:9).
In other words, “here is a good outline (or template) for you to follow when you pray”. Isn’t that awesome?! The Lord of the universe, the Son of the Living God, gives us a template on how we should pray. [Related article: How did Jesus teach us/His disciples to pray? (Explained)]
So whenever you feel like you are struggling with what to say when praying, just reset yourself back to the outline that Christ gave, and start there.
What do you say when starting a prayer?
The Bible tells us in more than one place that we should start our prayers with praise and worship. Another word that some passages use is thanksgiving.
This is the best way to start a prayer because it first gets your focus to where it should be before continuing. When we thank God and worship Him first our problems and needs become decreasingly smaller the more we get our focus on Him.
Have you ever heard the song “turn your eyes on Jesus”?
It reads, “turn your eyes on Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
How true that song is! Thanking God and worshipping Him will do just that. It will get our eyes off of the things that are fading and put them on the unfading One, which allows us to see everything else so much more clear.
Here are some passages of scripture that reveal how we should start a prayer:
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Holy be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Christ mentioned acknowledging God as Holy first.
“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing…Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:2-4)
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
“And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10).
What to say when praying to God
The only way to know what to say while praying is by having a close relationship with God. If you are consistently struggling to find words when you come before God then your relationship with Him needs to be developed as with any relationship.
I know that may sound harsh but it is the truth. We’ve all experienced this. The more you spend time with someone, the easier it is to carry on a conversation with that individual. On the flip side, the less time we spend with someone the less we can carry on a conversation.
And the simple reason is we just don’t know enough about that person to relate to them so it becomes difficult to talk to them. But as soon as we find something relatable, that conversation can carry on for a long time with little effort. [Related article: Is Prayer a Conversation with God? (Everything You Need to Know)].
So, if we want to be able to know what to say when talking to God, we should learn a little about Him. We need to get in His word and discover His character, His traits, His likes and dislikes, all the things that He has done for us, and all the promises that He has made through His word.
Once we discover these things, it’ll be a whole lot easier to talk to Him through prayer because we will know Who we are talking to.
You see, the difficulty lies not in the words themselves but in the knowledge of the Person we seek to know. [Related article: How to Start Knowing God (Step by Step)].
Think of it this way; when we first meet someone the questions we tend to ask are “who are you?” questions. They are: “what’s your name?”, “where did you grow up?”, “Where do you work?”, etc. They are not “How’s it going?” type questions.
Well, God already revealed to us the “who are you” questions through His word. So we need to get in the word to get to know Him. Once we discover who He is, it becomes very easy to talk to Him.
What to say when praying for someone
The words we say are not as important as the perspective that we pray from. So, when praying for someone we want to be sure we are praying for the Kingdom’s benefit and the individual’s growth. If we can do this, the correct words will be automatic.
As long as we ensure that our motive is for the Kingdom and for the individual, it really doesn’t matter what you say because it is said with love and truth. And if what you pray is said with love and truth then it is what the person needs.
For example, we know that God desires us to become love to our families, we know that He wants us to be evangelistic and bring the message of salvation to people , we know that he wants us to be holy, we know that He wants us to have a strong and healthy relationship with Him.
So since we know this, all we have to do is pray for God’s will to be done in the individual’s life.
God desires them to be saved, healthy, righteous, loving, and walking close to Jesus. So our job is simple; we pray for that to happen.
We pray that their heart would soften to the truth and that they would grow in knowing Jesus, we pray that they would open their Bible consistently so that it can change their lives, we pray that they would get a clear picture of Jesus so that they can learn to follow Him, etc.
Once we understand who God is and how he works in our lives knowing what to say when praying for someone becomes clear.
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