Praying for beginners (basically everyone)

How easy it would be if we had the mobile phone number of Jesus. If we could just add Him on WhatsApp and send a quick message. Or if He could become our friend on Facebook. Maybe we could even follow Him on Instagram? 

The more we can easily keep in touch with each other, the harder prayer sometimes seems to me. If I just have to open an app to call my aunt on the other side of the world, (with video, of course), then Jesus sometimes seems very far away.

When I first tried to pray, I felt somewhat embarrassed. What do you say to God, who is omnipresent and yet invisible? I often thought: God probably already knows what I want to pray before I have said it. Why would I still make the effort to put it into words? God knows everything about me. Then why would I still go to Him?

Learning to pray is not easy. I wanted to pray, but I often didn’t know what to say. I did not find the words to say what was in my heart. Or I could not believe that God, the Creator of everything I saw around me, would actually listen to me. Until at some point I read these verses in the Bible:

Ask and you will be given

knock and it will be opened for you. (Lc 11, 9)

God is not a distant, indifferent ruler or a vague mythical force. He is my Father, who will not give me a serpent or scorpion, but the Holy Spirit when I ask for it (LC 11, 11-13). So if you would like to pray just like I do, but can’t find the words for it, I have a few tips for you here. 

1. God help me!

Oh no, that deadline is tomorrow already?

My grandfather is seriously ill …

I was dumped by my love.

We all have such moments in our lives when we need God’s help. Moments when you cannot just continue on your own. Or moments when you really messed up. At such moments we pray: “God, help me!” These shooting prayers are such an important part of our spiritual life. God wants to help us, He wants to help bear our burden.

  • Say it the way it is
    You don’t have to hide anything for God. Next time in your prayer, try to express how you feel at that moment. 
  • Even the small counts
    To ask for God’s help, your life should not necessarily be in danger. Just asking for his proximity during a difficult exam is fine!

So let us approach the throne of the Merciful without hesitation, where we find mercy and grace whenever we need help. (Heb 4, 16)

2. Thank You, Father!

In the past I could not believe that God saw me and, more importantly, that He was interested in my life. Until I once took five minutes to reflect on how lucky I am in my life. So much to be thankful to God for! Thinking about all the beautiful things you have already experienced is a great way to see God’s hand in your life. Thanking him for this makes sense!

  • Stand still
    It is worthwhile to consider your day briefly in the evening. What are you grateful for? There will always be more things than you thought!
  • No big words
    Thank God in your own words. A sincere thanks is big enough.

3. “God, You’re my Deliverer …”

When I discovered Matt Maher, a whole new world opened up to me. If I don’t find the words, if there are things I feel I can’t say, then there is always a number that perfectly expresses it. Are you unable to pray? Then put this playlist on and I almost dare to guarantee that prayer will pop up … 

4. In silence

Praying is not a monologue, but a dialogue with God. And just as you would never talk to friends without giving them time to answer, it is also essential to be quiet while praying. How else can you listen? In the Bible God’s voice is compared to a soft breeze (1 Kings 19, 12) and so we must silence it around us to hear Him.

  • Silence it
    I really want to encourage you to silence your mobile while praying. There is nothing that can distract attention as quickly as a smartphone pinging.
  • Sit in silence
    One of the most difficult things to do: just sit somewhere in silence. Give it a try at home: find a quiet place (can be a church, but also a separate corner in your room) and sit in silence for a few minutes. In the beginning it will feel uncomfortable, but beware, because it can be addictive!

I hope these tips can help you get to know God in prayer. Learning to speak with God and listen to His voice is certainly not the easy way in life. But once you go for it, you will find that it is more than worth it! Good luck!

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