Sometimes we just can’t find the words to say… You meet a celebrity that we highly admire and want to say something, but you don’t want to sound like an idiot, and just do not know what to say. Maybe that super cute person you’re crushing on is walking by, and you want to sound cool and say something witty, but you’re at a total loss for words. Or perhaps you’re daydreaming when you should be paying attention in class, and the teacher calls on you to answer a question — and you have no idea what she was talking about… we’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced those moments of needing to find words and unable to come up with them. The same thing happens in our prayer life at times. Maybe there’s times when you just don’t know what to pray about, so you just don’t. There could be a lack of understanding of what prayer actually is, intimidated by prayer, or a disbelief that God will actually hear you — so you’re left with a loss of words to say. We’re starting a series called Talk to Me, and we’re going to cover the ins and outs of prayer. What it is, what it should or shouldn’t look like, how often we should be, and understanding the value and power of prayer.
For starters, what is prayer? The Bible shares that prayer is seeking God’s favor (Exodus 32:11), pouring out your soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15), crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20), drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28), and kneeling before the Father (Ephesians 3:14). These are some in-the-depths-of-your-soul types of descriptions for prayer. Prayer isn’t a meaningless, boring, box-checking thing for us to do, but connecting to the Creator of this universe on a deep, spiritual level.
Prayer is a way for us to communicate with a caring Heavenly Father what is on our hearts and minds, what we struggle with, and what we need help for. But what do we say? We have this ability to approach God, to cry out to the Heavens, to pour out your soul — but what do we actually pray about? Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, wrote a letter to the Christians at the church of Philippi. He wanted to encourage these Christians in their faith, and towards the end of the letter in his final encouragements, Paul writes about prayer. He says in Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Worry about nothing, pray about everything. Take all things to God in prayer, no matter how big or small. God cares about us that much, that we should take all things in our lives to Him in prayer. Whether we are preparing to make big decisions, or not so big decisions - let’s pray about it. When we have temptation and sin that we’re struggling with, take it to prayer. When we think of others and their spiritual status, we take these things to God in prayer. What’s been on your mind lately? Are there decisions you need to make, struggles you’re experiencing, or people that are squarely on you heart? Now think about how much you have been praying about these things… If not much at all, now’s a good time to start! We can take these things to God in prayer, He will hear them, and will answer to those who seek.
We should take all things to the Father in prayer, because He cares about all the issues we face. Now, how often should we be praying? Whats the magic number of how many times should we be praying? Paul also wrote the book of 1 Thessalonians, to a group of Christians who were new to the faith and experiencing persecution. These people needed some faith encouragement. Towards the end of this letter, Paul encourages them to pray in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Praying constantly isn’t locking yourself in a room and literally praying 24/7. God’s will for you life is to be the best family member, friend, student, hard worker that you can possibly be - and if we were praying 24/7, that’d hinder us from really being a good Christian! But, praying constantly means that prayer should daily and often be found on our lips and in our hearts - because we desperately need God on a daily basis! We are always in need of guidance through daily decisions, wisdom in changing friend dynamics and challenging situations, strength to fight that temptation, and forgiveness for when we give in.
Here’s my prayer challenge: let’s take this week to focus on prayer. For students, I challenged you on Sunday to pray when you wake up, when you get to school, pray in between every single class and before every meal, pray when you get home, and before you go to bed. That’s a lot of prayer! Think about what your relationship with God would look like if we prayed that much throughout the day. Just chatting with our Heavenly Father - for the things we are facing, for the people in our lives, and our lives living for Him! Take this challenge, pray about the big and little things, and pray throughout your entire day - and listen to God’s Spirit inside you as He guides and answers.