How Should We Pray?

Linda W Living as Anabaptists

The topic of prayer preoccupies me. I feel inadequate coming before God since I don’t know how to pray. Is there a best way? If so, how do I learn it other than saying The Lord’s Prayer?

When someone prays out loud on behalf of a group, I often think some prayers are better than others. But does God think that? And what of my own, silent prayers? How might God judge their quality? And does that determine what requests God grants?

I’ve been taught that we should first give praise and glory to God, next give thanks, and only then ask for what we want. I can do that, and I often do. Fortunately I have lots to be grateful for.

I’ve also read in the bible, Jesus’ reminders that anything we request in the right spirit, we will get; and that God already knows before we ask, what we need. The words “in the right spirit” and “need” (rather than “want”) are probably critical.

And then I’ve been told that listening to God is more important than talking. I find that very hard. They tell me that quieting myself, maybe through meditation, helps toward listening. That seems hard too. But I have often found that after praying for something that is really preoccupying me, sometime later I have an idea for how to proceed, or an event happens that changes the situation, and I recognize an answer to my prayer. It isn’t always the answer I hoped for and it may not solve the whole problem, but I know it’s an answer. So, did I listen? Not deliberately, but God often seems to overlook my ineptness.

On reflection, I think that methods don’t much matter, but we should pray in humility and confidence. Humility, because God is so much greater than we are, and our preconceived notion of the answer may not be what should happen. And confidence, because God is love, compassion, empathy. God knows what is in our best interest. God cares for and about every one of us.