Standing on hold for hours and then suddenly you hear that terrible sentence: ‘this caller can’t be connected’. And just when you needed help or a complaint. So frustrating that you want to throw your phone across the room. Recognizable?
That’s how it can feel when praying. You need help or have a complaint and you can’t seem to get in touch with God. Or you are not used to praying at all and you are afraid that you have the wrong number. You may think: what am I doing wrong? Where can I follow a Learn how to Pray course?
Learn how to pray step by step
Even if you have no idea how prayer works, you have already taken the most important step. That’s nice, isn’t it? The very first step for you to learn how to pray is that you want to connect with God. If you’re reading this article, you probably somewhere have the desire to be able to communicate with God.
Step 1: Wanting contact
Did you know that research has shown that on average 49% of people pray almost daily? African and Arab countries especially score very high, sometimes as much as 95% of the inhabitants pray every day. Of course, all religions are included in this and there is of course a difference in who you pray to. Yet it is nice to see that in many people there is the desire to connect with a higher being. With heaven. With a creator. Or God. And that’s where it all starts. You wanting contact.
Step 2: Making a choice
To make sure that you get in touch with God, it is good to know who exactly you are praying to. The example of a wrong phone number may sound a bit bland, but if you just type in a few numbers, it is difficult to get the right person on the line. It is the same with God. You may have to make a choice about which God to pray to. Do you pray to Allah, to yourself, to YHWH? Or do you pray to the God of the Bible? In any case, the God of the Bible would very much like to contact you. Read his invitation from the Bible here.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
Step 3: Get to know God better
Poll: God is a: webshop, complaint form, chatbox, examinator
With a bit of luck you could skip steps 1 and 2 but maybe you are still exploring. Step 3 is the most important step for everyone to learn how to pray. Go discover who God is. Get to know him better. Find out who God is and discover who God is is not. He is not a webshop where you can place your orders. No complaints form where you enter your misery and press send. He is also not an examiner who checks whether you have completed those online tests correctly. It all paints such a negative picture of God.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”Matthew 7:9-11
Discover who God really is. Perhaps God is more of a chat box. And not an automated one, but a real person who wants to talk to you and listen to you. In the text above it says that he is a Father. Someone who wants to take care of you. Who is genuinely interested in you. He wants to listen to you.
Step 4: Tell God everything
Do you have a friend you can talk to? With whom you can spend hours talking about life, the ups and downs? The best friends are often people who listen to you. And you can be the best friend by listening well. You have a real conversation when you both talk and listen. It is the same with God. God wants to hear everything about your life. What occupies you, what annoys you, what you love and who you love. It is best to send your complaints to God, you can certainly also share your desires with God. You don’t have to use difficult words for God. Be yourself. And do you find it difficult to find the right words? Then get your inspiration from these standard prayers or pray the Lord’s prayer. However, the next step is important: listening.
Step 5: Listening
This is where perhaps there is the most interference on the line. The Listening step. Prayer is a two-way street. God listens. But he also answers. How? This can be done in so many ways. God communicates from heart to heart. So often he communicates through things that touch your heart. Music, poetry, a special story, advice from a friend, through one-liners. The Bible is also a way to discover who God is and what he has to say to you.
Consciously set aside time to listen. Ask God: What exactly are you saying? Then open the Bible. Listen to a podcast. Stare into the distance for a while. Trust in God. And in yourself. That you can hear his voice.
Step 6: Be grateful
You always have something to be thankful for. However small the blessing may be. The Dutch woman Corrie ten Boom was in a concentration camp during the 2nd World War, together with her sister Betsie who would not survive the war. But Corrie has preached all over the world after the war. A message of forgiveness, but also of gratitude. She tells the story of how her sister thanked God for the fleas in their barracks. Because of this, the guards did not dare to enter and they could pray and read the Bible together with other women.
“Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.”1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Step 7: Continue!
Keep going! Don’t stop praying. Even when the heaven seems to remain silent. If you want to learn how to pray, you have to keep practicing. Maybe even keep challenging yourself. Try to think about what could be in the way. What interference is on the line.
You know what can also help? Keep a journal of your prayer points. Write down what you pray for. Look back every now and then and be surprised by which prayers will all be answered. Sometimes you don’t even realize that God really does answer.
Also look around in your area to see who could help you. If it is difficult to pray on your own, ask someone to pray for you or pray together. Or send us a prayer request here. Our team will pray for you.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”Romans 12:12