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How to Pray

When I first became a Christian, I had trouble praying. I had been taught from an early age "Don't talk to yourself". To me, it seemed as if I was talking to myself - there wasn't a physical person in the room with me. But gradually I learned. Let me give you an analogy.

When many people first access the Internet, it is at a public library. To access the Internet, you have to visit a special place. This takes considerable preparation: take a notebook, pen, write down details about what you are planning to check out, get the passwords right, and use the proper procedure. You may get someone else to do the access for you while you watch. That's how many people begin to pray: you visit a special place with considerable preparation, and get another person to pray for you.

As you get more involved, you don't need the help, but you still need to be at that special place. Some people begin to pray while at church.

Later, as people get more comfortable with the Internet, they get a dial-up connection at home. Access takes some time and preparation, and there is considerable attention to the details of getting connected. Access is slow and may stop suddenly. This is the second step for many people. They pray at home, but still require considerable attention to form and require considerable preparation. They start and stop.

Later, people who are serious about the Internet get an always-on, high-speed DSL or cable connection. The Internet can be accessed at any time, instantly, like picking up a book and reading. And this is how prayer is meant to be. Prayer is supposed to be like talking to a member of your family. You realize He is always there, and doesn't require special passwords or a special procedure. Just start talking.

Remember to listen. Prayer is a conversation. And He will answer -- maybe not at once, but you should be polite enough to listen for that answer.

Jesus tells us that we should say "Abba, Father...", when we pray. A good translation of this is to say "Dad, ...." Remember, in 1st Century Palestine, a man was often refered to by his family name. Only a close friend would use a given name. Even a child of the man would probably call him "Sir". Only a man who encouraged a close, tender relationship would have his children call him "Father". Before Christ, men did not use the name of God in conversation, for they did not wish to profane it. Thus, Jesus was creating a revolution when He said to pray to God using "Father". Over the years, this has become another formal title. Our equivalent word culturally is "Dad".

"Abba" is the equivalent today of "Da-da", or "Daddy", a word used by a young child to greet his father. Those of us that have earthly fathers should remember that feeling of warmth and safety we felt when we were in our father's lap when we address God. "Dad...." is a good way to talk to our loving Father.

In formal prayer, use the Lord's Prayer as an outline. Praise the Lord, Thank Him, Ask for Forgiveness, Ask your request.

During the day, however, just talk with Him as you walk together, drive together, eat, sing, play, and rest together. Whenever you see something beautiful, thank Him. Whenever you see evil, ask Him to deal with it. Whenever you have a need, ask Him to help you with it. Whenever you are hurt, ask Him to kiss the boo-boo. Whenever you see someone that needs help, ask Him to help them and help you help them. Just keep talking. Read Ephesians 6 for more ideas.

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