How to Get Started Praying
For many of us prayer is an uncomfortable activity. I know many strong Christians who are uncertain about how to pray. We know it is an important part of our walk, but, except in moments of distress, we often struggle to know how to even get started.
Today’s reading provides us with a few helpful insights into how we should pray. First, we should begin with the knowledge that God does hear our prayers (7:12). Despite how we may feel at the time, our prayers are not empty words going to an empty void. The God of the Universe and our Heavenly Father hears. When God declares to His people in scripture, “I have heard your prayers” it means that he hears them effectually — or He hears in such a way that He acts on them.
We also see the attitude we should have as we enter into prayer. 2 Chronicles 7:14 identifies this attitude as a condition for God’s action on their behalf. It says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…” In prayer we are entering into the throne room of God and making our requests and petitions known. We must enter into prayer with a proper humility, never with an attitude of challenging God or telling Him what we think He should do or should’ve done. We can cry out declaring that we don’t understand or asking Him for what we do not have, indeed we should do these things, but we should never in our prayers act as though God were on trial or being instructed by us.
The same verse also tells us that we should “seek His face.” This means that in our prayer we should seek to know God; to know His ways; and to commune with Him. At the end of a long day, I want to seek the faces of my wife and children. I want to connect with them and to know what they think and feel. In the same way, in prayer we are seeking to communicate with God and know Him more intimately. Not merely for Him to know us (He already does know us in a deeper way than we know ourselves) but for us to know Him.
When we come to know God more intimately there will always be an identification of some kind of sin in our lives, because He is holy and we are not. 1 John 1:8 tells us that if we think we are without sin at any time we are liars, deceiving ourselves. We must be prepared in our prayer to confront sin and to turn from it. We must “turn from our wicked ways.” One of the greatest hindrances to the prayers of Christians in unrepentant sin. When, in our prayers, we find sin exposed in our hearts, and we do not turn from it, we shut the doors of heaven to our prayers. Exposed sin must be repented of for our communion with God to remain unhindered.
A final lesson we might learn from Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6 relates to the content of our prayer. Solomon’s beautiful prayer is a wonderful model for us. Notice that the content is a wonderful summary of all that scripture has taught us to this point in our reading. In other words, Solomon is praying scripture back to God. We see this practice throughout scripture, where God’s people, even Jesus, the Son of God Himself, prays back to the Father His words and His will. The reason this is a particularly fruitful way to pray relates to the nature of prayer itself. Prayer is not our tool to affect God’s actions but for us to agree with God’s will. Again, this does not mean that we do not make our requests known to God, but that we do so submitting our request to His will and knowing that our His will is always for our good and joy.
Pray confidently, humbly, intimately, repentantly, and biblically. Apply these five principles to your prayer life and grow.