Do you ever feel a bit intimidated when you hear other people pray? Do they sound very “spiritual” to you? Do you ever wonder, how you could possibly come up with that many things to say? Truthfully, I have been a Christian for years, and I sometimes have these feelings. So I can imagine how it must feel for someone new to the Christian faith. I want to take some of the mystery out of prayer for beginners.
How should a beginner pray?
If you are new to the Christian faith, you may be wondering about the mechanics of prayer. What should you “do”? So this is a good place to start in prayer for beginners.
There are several ways to pray, depending on where you are and what you are doing.
Some people close their eyes. Some lift their hands and others sing. There are probably many more ways to pray, but these are the ones that I use.
Closing your eyes in prayer for beginners
Many people close their eyes when they pray, but it is not required. Nowhere in Scripture does it say you need to do this. I think it has come about to avoid distractions.
When we pray with our eyes open, we tend to see all the things around us that need to be done. If you are like me, I want to get up and put these things on my to-do list, or just “do this one thing before I pray”. Closing our eyes helps many people stay on track.
But when you are driving, obviously you aren’t going to be closing your eyes. The same is true if you are taking a walk. And sometimes the things we see along the way will inspire us to either thank God or ask Him for His intervention.
Lifting your hands in prayer for beginners
There have been many times when I was alone praying and was so overwhelmed with the need to let go of things in my life, that I would lift my open hands to symbolically give it to God. This lifting of my hands was not planned. It just came naturally.
People also lift their hands for other reasons. Some use it to acknowledge that they are dependent on God. Others use it to indicate they are willing to obey God. It can also be a sign of gratitude for all that God is or has done.
Singing in prayer for beginners
For people who love music, the words to some songs will elicit a sense of wonder and awe for our God. I can be exercising to music when a song will draw me in. In those moments, I can’t help but sing along, sometimes in a quiet voice, and sometimes just belting it out at the top of my lungs.
What do you say when you pray?
Knowing what to say when praying can be intimidating to many Christians. It can make them hesitant to pray in front of others. My best friend prays these beautiful prayers from the heart and I often feel like my prayers are so simple.
We need to remember that we are not in competition for God’s attention. He is not going to hand back our prayer with red marks all over it as an English teacher would do. We are not going to get a passing or a failing score for our simple or eloquent words. Why? This verse explains.
“The LORD does not hear as people do; people hear a person’s words, but the LORD hears our heart.” (adapted from 1 Samuel 16:7b)
The words to use in prayer for beginners
Many people have used the “Lord’s Prayer” as an example of what words to pray. Truthfully, when you use your own vocabulary, it takes a lot of the mystery out of prayer for beginners.
The Lord’s Prayer in the King James translation uses words that we no longer speak today. For instance,
- thy or thine
- debt and debtors
The word “Art” is not something you hang on a wall but an old term for “is”.
“Hallowed” has nothing to do with Halloween. It means “holy or consecrated”.
“Thy” or “Thine”- Today we would say “your”.
“Debt” and “debtors” have to do with our faults and the faults of others.
God does not expect us to speak to him using the old King James’ English. In fact, we don’t always need to use words, because God already knows our thoughts, feelings, intentions, and motives.
When we pray we need to use words that have meaning to us, words that communicate our heart. And when we can’t find words to express ourselves, God’s spirit steps in and prays on our behalf. (Romans 8:26)
The topics to cover in formal prayer for beginners
So what should we pray about? Literally everything. Prayer is not always asking for something. Prayer is simply a conversation with God.
Just like we would talk with our best friend, we do the same with God. We say some things and then we listen as He speaks to our thoughts and hearts.
This is where the Lord’s Prayer can be a good model.
- Stating who we are talking to (Our Father who art in heaven)
- Acknowledging God’s character (Hallowed be your name)
- Thinking about the great future we will have with Him (Thy Kingdom come)
- Asking for His will in our lives and our situations (Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven)
- Making requests for our needs or the needs of others (Give us this day our daily bread)
- Asking for forgiveness (Forgive us our debts)
- Desiring to grow spiritually (As we forgive our debtors)
- Asking for protection from the evil one (Lead us not into temptation)
- Acknowledging our need for God’s intervention (But deliver us from evil)
- Praising God for all He is and all He does (For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever)
Sample prayer for begginers
So then using the Lord’s prayer as our model, we could say something like this:
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that you are holy and I am not, and so I am grateful for your love and care in my life. I am so looking forward to the day when I will be with you forever. In the meantime, help me to be the person you created me to be.
Lord, I need your help with ____________ (our needs are more than daily bread so tell God about it, how you feel, what you long for, etc.)
Forgive me Lord for _____________ (what you did, said, or thought). Likewise, help me to forgive _______ (name of person) for doing _______ (what they did or said).
I ask you to guard my heart against the evil one. And when I am tempted to _______, help me to rely on you to overcome it.
Thank you that you are in control and have power over all things, even the things that seem so scary right now in my life.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
The Lord’s prayer shows us that our prayers should be more than a list of things we want.
When we focus less on ourselves, our prayer life becomes rich and beautiful.
What is the most effective prayer?
When we pray we always hope that God will see eye to eye with us regarding our requests. We ask for specific outcomes, but God doesn’t always operate that way.
So what is the most effective prayer? How should beginners and experienced Christians pray?
First of all, God will answer “no” to prayers that are contrary to the word of God.
In contrast, God wants to answer “yes” when we pray according to His will. These are the kinds of prayers God will answer affirmatively:
- A request to be more like Jesus, which is growing in the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
- To be more loving towards others as well as more forgiving. (Matthew 22:39)
- For greater understanding of who God is and how He wants us to live. (Psalm 46:10)
- That our thoughts would become more and more like God’s thoughts. (Romans 12:1-2)
- To learn to love God more. (Matthew 22:37)
- To have a deeper love for God’s Word, the Bible. (Joshua 1:8)
- For a chance to share God’s comfort with others. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
- Any request prefaced with, “If it is your will“. Even Jesus in His human body didn’t want to endure suffering on the cross. Nonetheless, He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
When we pray according to God’s will, our prayers become powerful and effective.
How do I connect with God when I pray?
There are so many ways to connect with God throughout our day.
Sometimes prayer is a quick “thank you” for something, or a brief, “God I can’t do this without your help.”
Prayer can also be a sense of awe and wonder for the beauty of God’s creation. Or it can be a brief request when we happen to think about a friend or co-worker.
The more we practice talking to God throughout our day, the more we will feel connected to God.
How can I hear God speak to me?
The primary way that God speaks to us is through Scripture. Therefore, we need to read the Bible daily. He will bring to mind Bible verses or phrases when we need them.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, … He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 ESV
The more Scripture we memorize, the more we become aware of God speaking to us throughout our day.
Some people find prayer a bit mysterious and intimidating, especially if they are new to the Christian Faith.
It helps to remember that prayer is much like talking to a friend. Prayer for beginners is a two-way conversation, not a monologue. We talk to God, and we listen in our spirit for His responses.
With just a little practice, we all can be praying effectively and with confidence!
If you like to color, check out the “Prayer – Hotline To Heaven” coloring collection. It will give you hours of enjoyment as well as reminders of the importance to pray about everything.
You might also like to read: