One of the best ways to learn how to pray is not to read about prayer. It’s not even to listen to other people pray. The best way to learn how to pray is … to pray!
Can you imagine a baby thinking to herself, “I’m not going to start talking until I’ve got the English language nearly mastered. I need to brush up on my vocabulary, and have a few tongue-twisters handy, and then I’ll start talking.” Of course not!
Babies learn to talk by … talking! Well, perhaps they learn by babbling first. But ask any parent, and then we tell you that those first da-da, ma-ma, ba-ba sounds are like music in their ears! It’s the same way with our Heavenly Father. He’s not waiting for you to be a prayer expert (whatever that is!) before you start talking with Him. Even if your attempt at pray sounds like a baby’s babbling to you, they are sweet sounds to our loving Heavenly Father.
One verse about Jesus gives us four practical prayer tips to help us practice praying—Mark 1:35. Check this out:
1. early in the morning. This speaks to me of priority. I want to talk with God before I talk with anyone else, before I make my plans for the day, before I have any major decisions to make. Practical application: Go to bed on time.
2. Jesus got up. A physical change of position to make sure He was alert. Practical application: Don’t try to pray laying in bed, but find a posture where you are most alert; maybe even go for a walk while you pray.
3. left the house … went to a solitary place. He left the familiar, and left any distractions behind. Some translations of Matthew 6:6 say we should go into our prayer closet. Practical applications: Find a place that’s just for prayer, then eliminate the distractions (i.e. turn off your phone, etc.).
4. He prayed. This Greek word is used 87 times in the New Testament and it means … PRAY. There’s nothing wrong with reading the Bible, or listening to worship music, but make these activities separate from prayer. Practical applications: My mind can wander when I’m praying unless I’m intentional about staying focused. So I keep a list of things I want to pray about, and I keep a blank piece of paper ready for things that come to my mind. Both of these things keep me focused.
How about you—Can you make prayer a priority? Can you find a place and posture that will help you pray? What can you do to stay focused while you’re praying?
Remember: the best way to learn how to pray is to pray. Get started today! Your Father is waiting to hear your sweet voice!
I’ll be continuing our series on Practical Prayer this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in Cedar Springs, I’d love to have you join us. Otherwise, you can tune in to our live broadcast via Periscope.