Do you ever think prayer feels awkward? I did. I stumbled over words, tripped out phrasing that feels forced. While most Christian leaders encourage you to simply “talk” to God, have a conversation the way you would with a friend, that’s easier said than done.
As I worked to develop my own personal relationship with Jesus, prayer time was, without question, the hardest thing for me to do. I WANTED to pray. Desperately wanted to have that kind of communication system with my Savior and Heavenly Father! However, I felt like my words weren’t good enough. Moreover, I feared my prayers were nothing more than a checklist of wishes and wants…that even those would become scripted…. I wanted my prayers to be prayed TO God, not AT Him. And there’s a huge difference!
I have finally learned to pray, and it’s a skill I will continue to learn and perfect for the rest of my life. I simply had to make my prayers 3D. We all know what three-dimensional (or 3D) is. Something that has length, breadth, and depth. We have the ability to give our prayers length, breadth, and depth. Here’s how:
- LENGTH: Pray without ceasing.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Prayers that never stop” feels a bit impossible at times, but it’s really not that hard. When Paul wrote this verse, what he was essentially saying is “Don’t put God on the shelf after you finish your daily worship.” He was encouraging us to let God be a part of our daily lives, even the things we consider to be too mundane for God to care about…. Remember, Luke 12:7 tells us that God knows the number of hairs on your head, so of course, it’s okay to pray to Him before a big meeting!
God wants to be so much more to us if we’ll let Him. He wants to be our best friend, our confidant, our source for joy and comfort. When we stop limiting prayers to a morning or evening ritual, that emotional and spiritual closeness that God wants us to have with Him will happen!
An easy way to learn prayer without ceasing is as simple as changing your passwords. My phone, iPad, computer, even software programs have all been changed to relevant prayer prompts. Every time I log into a device or program, I have a personal reminder to offer up a prayer to God. I may use that prayer prompt to thank Him for a great day or to ask God to help me through a difficult situation. Whatever it is, I use these small nuggets of time to pray without ceasing. I have found that the more I involve God with random moments in my day, the more often I think to pray without even needing a reminder.
I also love the prayer app, Echo. It’s free on iTunes. I created a prayer list and have prayer reminders set for various times of the day. Best of all, at the end of the day, I can open the app and click “Pray Now.” My prayer list is never in order—forcing me to go through each prayer in a new way. I can never fall into a script, because I don’t know in what order my prayers are going to come up on the screen. You can even mark prayers as answered! What a great way to go back and reflect on the good God does in your life!
- BREADTH: What is breadth? I thought of it as width, but it also means “comprehensive quality.” Comprehensive is defined as “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. ~1 John 5:14-15
When we pray, we can’t only bring our wish lists to God; He’s not a genie, there to do our bidding. We have to make sure our prayers are comprehensive. I once read that prayer should be inclusive of five elements: 1) Praise, 2) Confession, 3) Thanks, 4) Prayers for Others, and 5) Prayers for ourselves.
I’ve found that not every prayer is inclusive of all five, but if the balance is there—I think we’re on the right path.
Prayers of praise can be done as we read the Bible! A Psalm is a great place to start doing this. David is credited with writing 73 of the 150 Psalms found in the Bible and his words have inspired millions of believers to praise God, even during challenging times.
Prayers of confession should be a part of praying without ceasing. For example, as part of my decision to re-commit to Christ, I was conflicted about my language. My language has gone through a major overhaul in the last several months. However, I’m still human. In the moments where I’ve slipped, I have stopped and confessed then and there. The moment we know we’ve done something that goes against God’s will for our lives, we need to confess immediately. Don’t wait until designated prayer time. With a humble heart of contrition, tell God you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness.
Prayers of thanks are another type of prayer that can be done as we read the Bible or as we go about our day! Look at the world around you! Changes in seasons as a reflection of God’s consistency, the originality of God’s creations, a home and a backyard to enjoy, the sunshine that helps the trees to grow! The possibilities for showing God our gratitude are endless, and when we begin praying without ceasing, those opportunities present themselves even more frequently!
Prayers for others should include our family and friends, but should also be broad enough to include our government leaders, ministry leaders, military, and others we don’t know. This has been a challenge to me personally, and it’s something that I’m working to grow…. Our world is far bigger than our individual social circles!
Prayers for ourselves should start first with a desire for God’s will in our lives. Ask God to help you listen to His will for you and His purpose. Ask Him to guide and direct you; to close opportunities that aren’t good for you and open up ones that are. For myself, I like to ask God specifically for opportunities to make Him proud of me; for opportunities to bring Him joy.
When we pray, we need to ensure that the requests we make of God line up with His law. Obviously, asking God for something that doesn’t line up with His teachings isn’t going to happen! However, if we go to God with confidence, God hears us. Every. Single. Time.
- DEPTH: There’s more to prayer than just talking!
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “superficial,” meaning without substance or depth. Our prayers must have that added depth.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore! ~1 Chronicles 16:11
Prayers aren’t a one-sided form of communication. We are talking to God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. Imagine having a friend who comes to you and talks, but never lets you get a word into the conversation. When we don’t let God have an opportunity to ‘talk back,’ our prayers have lost that third dimension.
We listen when we make Bible reading a part of our day. It’s God’s written word to us, and through it, we can know Him better. We can understand who He is, and what His plans are. And if we get to know God through His word, we’ll begin to hear the whispers on our heart.
When prayer feels one-sided, it’s time to stop talking and let God in on the conversation.
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ ~ Jeremiah 33:3
So…3D prayers are entirely possible and are the foundation of your relationship with Christ. To sum up:
- Pray without ceasing
- Make your prayers comprehensive
- Give your prayers depth by taking time to listen