Believing in Prayer (Part 2)

by Jerry Senn

One of the reasons we don’t pray more is because we haven’t learned to pray. We may be like the disciples of Jesus who asked “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Even the apostle Paul said, “We don’t know what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). So, we’re in good company.

Here are a couple important elements for learning to be better at praying.

First, asking for our needs should not be the dominant thing in prayer. It is only one part. We can’t ask for too much or for too little. Just remember we are not self-sufficient, we need Him every hour.

Second, prayer should include confession of sins, those of the flesh and of the spirit. Fleshly sins are obvious, sins of the disposition are often neglected in our confessions, like anger, pride, envy, etc.

Third, prayer should involve thanksgiving. As Paul said, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, for his inexpressible gift.” (Romans 7:25; 2 Corinthians 9:15). And don’t forget friends, family, food, flowers, and music.

Fourth, intercessory prayer means we call on God on behalf of others, with compassion and concern. As the Spirit intercedes for us, we ask him to bless those in trouble, the lonely, the forgotten, those in pain.

Fifth, remember prayer is for God’s ears, not to impress men (Matthew 6:5,6). Our words are not as important as the desires of our heart. Words will not impress God, he wants sincere expressions from within.

Sixth, be honest in prayer. He already knows our needs. Pour out your soul without holding back, he knows what’s there, but wants us to experience his presence and to know his compassionate desires for our good.

Seventh, be definite. “Forgive me of my sins,” is fine, but we may not be facing the specific mistakes we’ve made. When we were angry, hurtful, prideful, or neglectful, let him hear us acknowledge our weaknesses.

Finally, never forget to praise his name, express adoration and honor, acknowledging him who is our life, our strength, our creator and friend. Francis of Assisi prayed, “O God, help me to want to love you.”

(Some thoughts lifted from a booklet by Harold Hazelip, former President of Lipscomb University.)