Everyone knows how to pray, right? It’s just talking to God, expressing our needs and the needs of others, correct? I mean, it’s not rocket science, is it?
No, it is not. But the bible has so many examples of different ways to pray. Are we silent, or do we pray out loud? Do we pray in the spirit or in the flesh, or do we write out our prayers? Do we stand, or sit, or bow? Do we come to God in humility, or do we come boldly before the throne of God? Is there a pattern of prayer that I can use? We will be exploring all of these “How’s” in the coming posts. Since I don’t enjoy reading excessively long posts, I am going to try and get this into 3 posts and see how it goes. So, let’s begin!
PART 1 – Silent, Out Loud or written prayer.
Silent prayer is probably the most common. I pray silently when I am by myself and praying for those people on my prayer list most of the time (you do have a prayer list, right?). There are times that I pray aloud when by myself, but most of the time I use silence. Perhaps that is something I should change – maybe if I prayed aloud I would be more likely to keep the routine, as this is an area that I falter in too often. The daily time of prayer. I think I will try that.
There are also silent prayers given for those who come to mind during the day, or requests that come our way. We bring them to God in meetings, in church, or in the privacy of our home. Whenever they pop up, we take action on them. There are a few verses about silent prayer in the Word:
Genesis 24:45 – And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew [water]: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee
Jacob prayed silently for the wife Abraham had sent Him to find, and we see His prayer answered.
1 Samuel 1:12 – And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.
Hannah prayed silently in the temple for a son, and Eli wondered why her mouth moved but no words proceeded. The result of her prayer was birth of the prophet Samuel.
Matthew 6:6 – But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Jesus tells us to not be public about our prayers, but to pray in the closet to God, and the Father will reward us with the answer. There are times we should not tell people we are praying for them because we may take pride in that statement if the answer comes. We may think we are the cause of that answer, but we are not. God is. We help it along, but we should do it in secret. At other times, people need to know we are praying for them. Use proper judgment to determine which time is which.
Another aspect of silent prayer is meditation. This is coming to God in our thought life, and it is all over the bible as a way to communicate with God and let Him know our thoughts are either on Him, or on His word, or on those things that are pleasing to Him. I could list hundreds of verses that talk about meditation on the things of God, but I will not. I will say it is all through Psalm 119 – a glorious Psalm that we should all read often. A few other ones that I am fond of include:
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things
This verse has a lot of power behind it, and can shape our lives and our witness in remarkable ways. We should all do our best to live by this verse every moment of every day, because what we put into our minds is what will come out, hence
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man:
You can see why Philippians 4:8 is so important for our silent prayer, meditation and thoughts when you see what Jesus says here.
2 Cor 10:5
5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
These are things we must do through pray and meditation. When these thoughts come into our mind, and they will, we must get rid of them and bring our thoughts into the “obedience of Christ”. How do we do that? Reading Psalm 119 is a good way to start
I am going to stop with those two, because I believe they are the most integral to our silent prayer life along with Psalm 119 ( can you see I put a lot of emphasis on this Psalm?). Let’s go on to the next one.
Praying out Loud
Praying out loud is something we typically do in church or in fellowship with someone else. It can also be used in our private prayer time, and is probably seen as the most effective type of prayer. Praying aloud uses two of our senses, as we not only use our ears to hear, which I believe we do with silent prayer, but we also use our mouths to speak. Our words have a lot of power. Read James 3 and you will see what importance the tongue has and how powerful it can be. When we pray aloud, we speak God’s word into the air, and it never leaves the atmosphere. Never downplay how powerful your words are to someone else.
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
Speak to those mountains in your life. Speak with all faith and all authority given to you by Jesus. He says if you believe and do not doubt, it will be done. Read this story about the power of this kind of prayer:
A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member.
Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building.
Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built.
In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard.
Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain moving faith.” They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week.
At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final “Amen”.
“We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled,” he assured everyone. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too.”
The next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock at his door. When he called “come in”, a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered.
“Excuse me, Reverend. I’m from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We’re building a huge shopping mall. We need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge, if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly.”
The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with “mountain moving faith” on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!
Oh, that we would all have that kind of faith! Not only for physical, real mountains, but for the looming mountains and obstacles that seem to block our path at every turn. God can move them, and with applied faith, nothing wavering, we can too – by speaking to that mountain!
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer;
thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.
Call out to Him! Cry out to Him! He will answer! He will hear! The prophet sums up the power of spoken prayer in these simple words. Why would we want to hold back?
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up
The prayer of faith, the prayer spoken by the elders as they anoint with oil – this is prayer that is spoken out loud over the person, building their faith and the faith of all around. Powerful prayer that will deliver the sick and raise him up.
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
This shows us that God does know our thoughts – before they speak I will answer. But while we speak, he will hear. He wants us to speak out our needs, to let Him know we understand what we have need of. He knows – do we really know what we need? Are we praying in the Father’s will, or our own? He desires to hear us!
I Peter 3:12
12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers:
His ears are open, attentive and listening to our spoken prayers. They are music to His ears. He loves to hear us call on Him. Speak out your prayers and be heard by Almighty God!
You get the picture! There are so many verses I could go to, but this is getting long, and I have one more piece to this part of the how to pray.
Some people like to write out all their prayers. They put them in a journal. I have never journaled. I admire people who can sit down and write out their prayer requests. It is an amazing gift and it can serve as a reminder of prayers that are answered because you have it all written down. I think it is a great way to go about praying.
This method actually employs four of our senses, and that is why it is the most powerful form of prayer for us. We speak it in our minds, see it with our eyes, hear it with our ears as it is put on the paper, and we feel the pen putting the words down. If you use a pen that uses strawberry ink, you can even smell the words as they go down Utilizing all those senses puts it deeper into our memory – any behavioral analyst will tell you that. Any communication specialist will tell you that the more senses you get your audience to use, the better they will remember your speech.
It is hard to find reference to praying by writing in the scripture, but the scripture is full of written prayer. The Psalms are a good place to start, of course. They are filled with prayers. I have mentioned three times already the best Psalm of prayer. The prophets wrote out prayers. There are many prayers written in the Chronicles. Examples are everywhere, and I am not going to reference any here to save space. Look for yourselves and if this is a discipline you might want to embark on. I often have prayers in the poems God gives me, so it is an area I use on occasion.
This is just the beginning of our study on how to pray. In the next lesson, which I promise will be shorter (this came out to about double the length I like), we will look at whether we should pray in the Spirit or in the Flesh, and whether we should pray Humbly or Boldly. Stay tuned!