Need Help Learning to Pray?

When I was in undergrad at Florida A&M University, I was a regular at the library.

One day, two of my guy friends joined me in a study room and as we usually tended to do, we joked and laughed about the normal college things. Well about 5 minutes into the conversation, one of them got really serious (he wasn’t known to be like this) and he said, “Shaakira, can I ask you a question?”

Of course I said yes, and was particularly intrigued by how abruptly the mood had switched. So then he went on to ask, “how do you pray?” and immediately after, the other friend who had been quiet during this time, spoke up and said “yeah, cause I know you do it but how?”

It dawned on me in that moment that something that was as normal to me as breathing, could be a difficult feat for others. Many people struggle with the idea of talking to someone or something that doesn’t immediately answer. It can feel like yelling into the abyss… empty and meaningless.

Prayer is also one of the best ways to build your relationship with God. How can you get to know someone if you don’t speak to them? The same applies to him. The more you speak to God, the more comfortable you will become in his presence and the more comfortable you will be with actively seeking his guidance.

Don’t get me wrong, I know praying can be a difficult task for many reasons but I think one place that people go wrong is thinking that prayer has to be perfect and scripted. It’s as if, in order to pray you must first rehearse your lines and be sure not to offend the all mighty and powerful… well newsflash there is nothing you can say to him that he doesn’t already know. God isn’t surprised by your prayers and when you speak to him, you aren’t telling him anything new. He created us and already knows what troubles us or what we desire. He knows what makes us upset and what makes us happy. Now you may be thinking,

“Well, if he knows these things already what’s the purpose of praying?”

Going to God in prayer shows him that you trust him enough to lay the things that trouble you at his feet. It shows him that you surrender complete control of your life and circumstances to him instead of trying to handle them yourself.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to give you the same advice I gave to my friends in the library that day:

  1. If you have a hard time praying at first, journal it out. 

There was a time that I felt a strain in my relationship with God. When that happened, I began to pray less and less because it felt like a chore. When that happened I started a prayer journal. I purchased a notebook specifically for writing out my prayers to God and it helped me be more comfortable with the idea. After writing a while, I felt like it was easier to just pray in my head but I still keep the journal in case I ever reach a bump in the road like that one again.

2. God doesn’t want the prayer that you heard your pastor say when you grew up in the church. 

I found that subconsciously I would pray exactly how I remember hearing older people in church pray. Kind of like this,

“Dear God, I come to you today with a bowed head and humbled heart…  asking that you (insert request here) and Lord, I pray that you see fit for (insert request here) and it’s in Jesus mighty and wonderful name I pray, Amen.”

That outline was drilled in my head so long that I could say it without any real thought. They were just rehearsed lines that carried no real meaning to me. God wants us to speak to him naturally. Now, my prayers are more like a conversation with an old friend. I don’t use fancy words and I don’t try to be someone I’m not when I speak to God. which leads me into my last point…

3. You can speak to God anywhere and everywhere. 

When we think of prayer, I’m sure you envision being kneeled by the side of a bed in the morning or at night, right? This is great but this shouldn’t be the only time we pray. The bible says, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Don’t restrict your communication with God to mornings and nights. Sometimes I will be in the store, driving down the road, or walking across a street and saying a quick little thank you or comment to God. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out but a brief, “thank you” is enough for him. It shows him that even in the midst of your busy day, you’re thinking about him. 


I will be doing a follow-up to this post because the topic is so wide and I want you to be able to strengthen your relationship with God and become more comfortable with the idea of prayer but in the meantime, try these tips.

Until next time, Love.  

 

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