Last Christmas I needed some gift ideas for my brother-in-law. He just started hitting the gym, so, picturing Rocky Balboa’s training scene, I thought: weight-lifting gloves? Gym clothes? Maybe a jump rope?
I asked my husband what he thought, and he said, “Maybe pray about it.”
Can you pray about gym equipment?
Even though I probably pursed my lips and raised an eyebrow at this suggestion, he was right. We can pray about everything. In fact, we’re encouraged to do it, and it’s awesome to know why.
This post discusses prayer as an individual, but if you want to send a prayer to someone else, look here: prayer text messages.
How to Pray to God
Jesus instructs us clearly in the Bible how to pray. In Matthew 6:5-8 he tells us that praying is not about speaking words out loud in public so we’ll be noticed by people and applauded. It’s also not about saying mindless words over and over again.
Not sure if you’re praying for the right reason? Find out if you have one of these secret prayer intentions.
God already knows our heart; He already knows what we want to ask or say or confess. The act of moving into a quiet place in our heart where we can just talk to Him and — more important — listen to Him, is when prayer takes place.
We can also pray with others. There are countless testimonies about the power of prayer.
When we pray to God, we are having a conversation with Him. We can ask Him anything, whether the matter is big or small. He wants to help us make the best decisions according to His will (who else knows what’s best for our life?).
How Long to Pray
The bible tells us to pray without ceasing, or to pray continually.
Some prayers go long. In the bible we read about how devastated Nehemiah felt by the news that Jerusalem sat in ruins years after his people returned to rebuild it. He prayed to the Lord day and night for four months before he received God’s direction to go himself and rebuild.
Some prayers go short. Nehemiah also held a powerful position at that time as cupbearer to the king of Persia. When the king saw he was sad and asked what he needed, before answering, he “prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4)
When we enter difficult conversations, hear bad news, hear good news or find an unexpected open door, sometimes we just need that short prayer:
What Words to Pray
Praying is a communication between you and your father. It is about whatever you want to discuss with Him. In some cases, we come to ask the Lord to bless us.
Using the example of Nehemiah, we see a four-part prayer. First, he acknowledges God.
“Lord, God of heaven, you are the great God who is to be respected. You are loyal, and you keep your agreement with those who love you and obey your commands.” – Nehemiah 1:5
Next, he confesses what is in his heart.
“I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. My father’s family and I have sinned against you. We have been wicked toward you and have not obeyed the commands, rules, and laws you gave your servant Moses.” – Nehemiah 1:6-7
Then he reminds God of His word. Note: This doesn’t mean that God forgot His word. It serves as another form of asking the Lord for His mercy, even when we have forgotten Him.
“Remember what you taught your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands, I will gather your people from the far ends of the earth. And I will bring them from captivity to where I have chosen to be worshipped.” – Nehemiah 1:8-9
Finally, he makes his request.
“Lord, listen carefully to the prayer of your servant and the prayers of your servants who love to honor you. Give me, your servant, success today; allow this king to show kindness to me.” – Nehemiah 1:10
We can also pray to God for guidance. Jesus himself gave us that prayer in Matthew 6:9-13:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
And when the right words are hard to find, we are told that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). The simple act of opening to God allows the Spirit to enter.
Ultimately, if we pray without ceasing, we get to enjoy the love and guidance of God our father all of the time! And yes, this even includes gift ideas.