An idiot’s guide to prayer

PrayerPrayer is the most powerful weapon in a Christian’s arsenal, but why do so many of us struggle with it? Hopefully these tips will help.

Bigger isn’t better
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we owe God a big shopping list and that he’ll be impressed by our super long prayers. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not saying don’t pray for a long time, but don’t think that your three-hour prayer session is going to be achieve more than a shorter cry. God hears us all.

Pray the Bible
If you’re anything like me, you’re often lost for words when it comes to prayer. I mean, how can the English language even comprehend the hugeness and awesomeness of our God? If you’re struggling with what to say, how about praying the Bible? Read out God’s promises over you, your family and your nation. His word does not return to him void.

Be yourself
What is Reinhard Bonnke doing in my church prayer meeting?” Sorry to disappoint you, it’s not Reinhard, it’s brother Bill with his dodgy German accent. We’ve all done it, put on a big, superstar preacher voice, hoping it’ll impress everyone – not to mention God – when we shout out our petitions. But it’s silly, immature and achieves nothing. Be yourself. God made you that way for a reason and he’s more likely to respond to his own creation rather than some Reinhard Bonnke wannabe.

It’s not McDonald’s
Prayer isn’t a drive-thru where you pull up, place your order, collect your item and drive off. Many times in the Bible, Jesus talks of persistence. This is key to any believer’s prayer life. If at first you don’t get an answer, keep on knocking. And when you’re about to give up and you think it’s never going to happen, still press on! Your miracle could be just around the corner.

Don’t brag about it
“Draw near to me so you can post it on Facebook.” Nope, God never said that – so don’t do it! It’s a little infuriating when you see Christians boasting about how much time they’ve spent with God. It’s called the secret place for a reason. Let’s keep it that way. The clue’s in the name.

Nothing’s too big, or too small
Whether you’re praying for world peace or for your toothache to disappear, it’s all on God’s agenda. Remember, we’re talking here about someone who created the universe. Is he really going to be daunted by your ‘big’ problem. He’s your Father – don’t forget that – and if it matters to you, it matters to him.

Pray with others
Sometimes it’s hard to pray on your own, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that. Personal one-on-one time with God is crucial for any Christian, but gathering with one or two trusted friends could lift your faith too. And when prayers are answered in someone else’s life, it’ll lift the faith of the entire group. Try it!

Be specific
Specific prayers receive specific answers. Don’t be vague with God, tell him what you need – he’ll appreciate your honesty. If you want a pay-rise, ask him for one. If one of your family members doesn’t know Christ, name them. If you’re believing for 50 new people in your church, tell him. There’s no point skirting the issue when it comes to prayer. Say it as it is.

God’s not deaf
Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to shout at the top of your voice in order to get an answer from God. It’s simply not true. There’s nothing wrong with showing some passion and by all means scream at the top of your lungs (it won’t offend God), but he hears the faintest whisper as well as the loudest shout.

Expect answers
Prayer is the most magnificent, delightful and supernatural tool in a Christian’s life. It helps conquer sin, it resolves hurt, it heals pain and it opens doors for all that God has planned for us. Think big, think impossible and expect God to do great and mighty things in your life. Your miracle is on its way.

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