Prayer is one of those things you learn by doing. I can give you Bible promises on prayer and share with you some of my own experiences with prayer, but I can’t do your praying for you. Until you begin to pray yourself, you will never understand prayer.
Martin Luther said, “Just as the business of the tailor is to make clothing, and that of the shoemaker to mend shoes, so the business of the Christian is to pray.”
The secret of Luther’s revolutionary life was his commitment to spend time alone with God every day. I encourage you to take time every day to talk with God. Don’t just give Him 30 seconds while you’re rushing around in the morning: “O Lord, bless this day, especially since it is Monday.” Set aside a specific time each day for personal prayer.
As you pray, strive for order (see “An Exercise in Prayer”) and faithfulness. It helps to establish a set time to pray, but avoid legalism. Don’t feel guilty if you miss your intended time or even an entire day. Keep trying. On certain occasions you may need to adapt your schedule to talk to the Father. Nothing is wrong with that. Aim for consistency. Don’t look at prayer as a duty to be “checked off” your list. Prayer is simply an honest conversation with our heavenly Father who loves us.
I find the early hours of the day are the best to pray. Evangelist D. L. Moody said, “We ought to see the face of God every morning before we see the face of man. If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it that you have more business on hand than God ever intended.” Make room in your schedule to begin each day alone with God in prayer.
On the other hand, prayer is something that should take place during the entire day. The Bible says, “Pray continually” (1 thessalonians 5:17). At any moment, whatever the occasion, we are free to speak with our Father. We enjoy communion with the living God, who lives within us, through prayer.
It’s always surprising to see how much time Jesus dedicated to prayer. He never considered himself too busy to pray. As the obligations increased and He faced big decisions, He went away alone to pray (luke 5:15–16). Will you form a similar habit?
Confidence in Prayer
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him” (1 john 5:14–15).
Look at that! God has gone on record as saying that whatever we ask for according to His will, He will give it to us! But what do we do if we don’t know God’s will? Helpfully, God has revealed much of His will in the Bible. By becoming better acquainted with God’s Word, you will learn many things about His will for your life.
Read 1 John 5:14–15 again. If you are not sure a prayer request is according to God’s will, ask Him about it; He can tell you. And don’t worry about making mistakes when you pray. Do you think the sovereignty of God will be shattered because one of His children makes a mistake while praying? Isn’t it a bigger mistake not to pray at all?
If the answer to your request is “no,” the Lord will communicate with you by the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. But the answer may not be immediate. God may be developing your patient trust in His perfect will. A consistent prayer life in your walk with God will help a sensitivity develop between you and your heavenly Father.
When God says “no” to a request you make, trust His goodness. Jesus made the point that parents do not give their children worthless or bad gifts when they request something. How much more can we trust our heavenly Father, who always gives us what is good (matthew 7:7–11). But we need to ask according to His will.
An Exercise in Prayer: Keep a Prayer Notebook