Learning how to pray effectively can be tough. Are you trying to spend more time in prayer but you just keep getting stuck? You’re bored. You feel like you’re repeating the same thing over and over. Your mind is constantly wandering about all of the things you need to do or you’re starting to think you’re talking to yourself. Yep, been there.
These types of frustrations will lead you just stop praying because you feel like you’re going nowhere, and you’re losing motivation.
But what if you could have a vibrant prayer life? One where you actually look forward time spent in prayer?
By following these steps on how to pray effectively, you will begin to view prayer for what it actually is. It’ll turn into a beautiful and enjoyable time spent with your Heavenly Father. Instead of dreading it, you’ll look forward to it. After all, this is the time where you get to spend precious quality time with your Creator! You’ll begin to feel God guiding and encouraging your path and molding you into the person He has called you to be. What could be more amazing?
So, if you feel like there is definitely room for improvement in your prayer life (honestly, we all do), then keep reading. We’re going to break down 10 simple steps to achieving a more vibrant, purposeful, and effective prayer life.
How to Pray Effectively in 10 Simple Steps
1. Keep Your Prayers Simple
When we hear other people pray we can easily get caught up feeling like our prayers need to be this super fancy or formal production. Don’t feel like you need your prayers to be super extraordinary works of art in order for them to be heard. Just keep it simple.
Don’t get me wrong, you should give God the honor that He deserves but more than anything your prayers just need to be authentic words coming from your heart. It doesn’t have to be a beautifully written poem.
The most powerful and life changing prayers I have prayed were simply, “God, please help me. I need you right now. I can’t do this by myself.”
I definitely think that as you pray more often your prayers will definitely start to sound better. But that goes for anything right? The more you do anything, the better you will become. Why would prayer be any different? 🙂
2. Pray from the Heart
The point of prayer is to connect with God. God already knows the secrets of your heart (Matthew 6:8), so might as well be honest with Him, right? 🙂
Open up and share your emotions and desires with God. He’s the only one that truly understand what you’re going through anyways. You can pray prayers of joy, happiness, and thanks, but feel free to also share your frustrations and disappointments. I feel that when we are truly honest with God, even in our disappointments (even our disappointments in not hearing from God!) THAT is when true breakthrough begins.
Praying about our frustrations, worries, and concerns are called Lamentations, and there’s an entire book in the Bible dedicated to them for a reason. It can be pretty eye opening when you read the Bible and discover that people who lived over 2,000 years ago had the same (or at least similar) frustrations as you do. 😉
One of the hardest prayers I had to pray was when I asked God why He didn’t save my marriage. Talk about disappointment. But when you feel betrayed, vulnerable, and forgotten by God, don’t burry those feelings. Talk to Him about it. By opening your heart, you can draw closer to Him, and He can restore you.
3. Use the Lord’s Prayer as your Guide
The Lord’s Prayer is a wonderful tool in guiding us on how we should pray. The Lord’s Prayer was given to us by Jesus during His famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:9-13. In it Jesus lays out a template for how we should be praying.
In case you are not familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, here is the NIV version of the entire prayer:
If you are unsure of the meaning behind the Lord’s Prayer (or how you can use it to structure your own prayers) read my post, The Lord’s Prayer: What does it mean? where I break it down line by line. 🙂
4. Pray Often & Consistently
How often you should pray is a tough one. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says we should pray without ceasing. So, that’s a lot.
The objective is that we should always be in communication with God. Ideally you want to get to the point where God is the first thing you think of when you wake up, and the last thing you think about before going to bed. But don’t freak out, that kind of dedication doesn’t happen overnight.
I found that what works perfectly for me is to pray every single day for 10 minutes. Depending on where you are in your walk this might feel like a lifetime or a blink of an eye. I chose 10 minutes because it’s do-able. I can always give 10 minutes of my day. There’s no excuse. Sometimes my prayers are shorter, and sometimes I go longer, but the goal is 10 minutes every single day. If I seek God more throughout the day, those are all bonus prayer points (haha!).
5. Begin Prayer with Praise
Begin your prayers by praising His name. After all, God is perfect, good, just, and holy, and deserves to be praised simply because of who He is. By beginning your prayers with praise, you create an atmosphere for God’s presence.
Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High…”. Basically, praise is a very good thing. By doing it we are recognizing that God is holy. It keeps us mindful of how amazing God is, and how we owe every part of this life to Him.
6. Pray for Your Needs (and others)
Okay finally, let’s start praying for stuff! But what should we pray for? What’s acceptable to pray for? Should I pray for small things? Should I only pray for others? Is it greedy to pray for myself?
Stop. Stop. Stop.
It frustrates me that we even think like this. Like we have the audacity to pray for ourselves. How dare we! Throw those thoughts out the window right now. One of my favorite things I have ever heard is, if it matters to you, it matters to God. THIS is what I know to be true from my walk with God. Nothing is too small. And the reverse of that, nothing is too big. Take your requests to God. All of them. Pray as much and as often as you like.
Interesting enough, the Bible actually encourages us to ask for what we want (James 4:2) and tells us that God cares about our needs (1 Peter 5:7) and wants to bless us with good things (Matthew 7:11).
In Matthew 21:22 Jesus says, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it”.
7. Pray for God to Guide You
Another way of saying this is to pray for the ability to discern God’s will in your life. What is your purpose on earth? What path should you be taking? Who should you be spending your time with? Who should you marry?
We should constantly be asking for God to guide your path and to reveal His purpose to you. Can you really be frustrated that you went in the wrong direction if you didn’t ask for God’s opinion in the first place?
I am constantly amazed by how much God leads me when I simply ask him to. When you ask God for help, you are allowing Him to mold you and fill you up with more of Him, and less of everything else. God is a gentleman after all, He won’t force you to do anything. But if you ask for His guidance, He will swoop in and help you in ways that you didn’t even know you needed help.
8. Ask for Forgiveness
Are you familiar with word repent? I honestly don’t like this word. It just sounds so “churchy” and harsh. Like the man on the street corner shouting, “turn from your sins and repent!”. I don’t feel the presence of God when I hear that man preaching, even though what he’s saying is true.
So, I’ve decided I’m going to go about this in a different way. Sin is a real thing. We all sin, whether we like it or not. As much as we try, we still mess up, and we are constantly in need of forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, our sin separates us from God. When we don’t turn away from our sin, it gets in the way of our relationship with God. You’ll find it harder to experience or hear Him.
But the goal is not to sin, right? Right. Make a point to ask for forgiveness when you mess up and pray for the strength to resist whatever caused you to sin in the first place.
9. Be Thankful
Thank God for what He has done. This is the part of prayer that honestly changed everything for me. My prayers usually go like this, “God don’t you see what I’m going through” or “God why haven’t you provided this for me?”. Honestly, these prayers aren’t necessarily bad. I mean, let’s circle back to point #2 and remember that it’s good to pray from the heart. But what we want to watch out for is constantly complaining to God. The constant whining, and not realizing or recognizing all of the amazing things God has already put in your life can be detrimental.
Your complaint might even be valid, but here’s the trick for what you need to do; present your requests to God, and then drop it. Stop worrying and TRUST. Then…give thanks. Thank God for even the smallest things you can think of that you are grateful for. Thank you, God for my cat. Thank you, God for my breakfast. Thank you, God for this crummy job that I hate because at least I can pay my bills. I’m telling you, come up with something. There is always something to be thankful for.
It seems counterintuitive right? You’re upset because God hasn’t answered you or provided you with something, and yet, you should give Him thanks regardless. Thank Him in advance for the miracles you know He’s going to perform. Thank Him for what you know He’s going to do in your life.
Related : 18 Bible Verses on Giving Thanks
10. Expect a Response
Be real with me, how often do you pray and actually expect God to respond? Would you be freaked out if He even did?
Often times, this is how it goes. We may ask earnestly for direction or guidance, but do we even bother to pay attention to the answer?
I have found that when it comes to hearing from God, more often than not it isn’t that God isn’t speaking, it’s that I’m not listening. We should walk into prayer every time expecting a response. Expect God to talk back. You won’t always receive an answer, but you will increase your chances of hearing from Him. Remember there are many ways that God can speak to you. God can speak to you through His word, the Bible, through a dream, through another person, or even just a feeling in your gut about what you should do. And let’s not forget an actual audible response. There are many was that God can speak to us, but we need to be ready to listen to what He has to say.
When you start doing all of these steps together, I promise you, you will learn to pray effectively and your prayer life will be taken to whole new level. Maybe even just tweaking one of the points mentioned can have a great affect.
For me, I have been praying consistently for YEARS, but when I started being more thankful in my prayer life, it made all the difference. I decided to start ending my prayers with five things I am thankful for, and it has completely changed my attitude and thought process. Now I can’t end my prayers without giving thanks.
I hope you find a few takeaways from this post, and you begin to experience a more vibrant, purposeful, and effective prayer life. 🙂
What do you do to pray effectively? Love to know in the comments below!
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