How to Pray to God Effectively: 2 Ways
By Liu Lan
Hello, brothers and sisters! Today I’d like to share a topic with you—how should we make effective prayers? Everyone who comes before God knows to pray to Him, but some brothers and sisters are usually unable to feel the presence of God or grasp His will when praying. As a result, although we pray to God when encountering things, we still have no path to practice after that. If we don’t know how to pray effectively, then our prayers may not be heard by God and we are unable to establish a normal relationship with Him. Therefore, it is particularly important for every Christian to find out how to make effective prayers.
1. We should sincerely speak the words within our hearts to God when we pray.
The Lord Jesus said, “But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24).
From the Lord’s words, we can know that praying to God requires us to open our hearts to Him and honestly say the words in our hearts. As Christians, we may make a lot of prayers every day, but if we self-reflect on how many times we have honestly shared our hearts with God, we will find that most of the time when we make prayers in the morning, evening, or after meals, though our lips move and we speak fluently, we are actually not speaking from the heart but are merely repeating the same old things. For example, in the morning we pray like this, “God, I commit this entire day to You. May You keep my heart from leaving You.” And in the evening, we pray, “God, thank You for Your protection throughout the day, so that I haven’t fallen into temptations and passed the day safe and sound.” Sometimes, we only focus on saying a bunch of nice-sounding or flowery words to ingratiate ourselves to the Lord. For example, we pray like this, “Lord, thank You for shedding Your precious blood and sacrificing Yourself for us. I’m willing to bear the cross and forsake everything to follow You,” yet actually we don’t have such great resolution. This kind of prayer then is not sincere and is not made with heart and honesty, and so, no matter how many times we pray in this way, we won’t feel touched or enjoyment in our spirits, nor will we sense the presence of God, much less will our life grow.
As we recognize these reasons for which our prayers are not effective, we will find out how to make effective ones. That is, instead of caring about how many times we pray or how much we speak, we should pay attention to praying to God sincerely and touching God’s Spirit with our hearts. In our prayers, we shouldn’t speak nice-sounding words to deceive God, but should honestly speak the words of our hearts, telling God our actual situation, difficulties, or things we don’t understand in our life and work, and seeking to Him with a sincere heart. When we realize we have done something that is not after the Lord’s heart, we should open ourselves to God and honestly acknowledge our mistakes rather than speak something pleasant to deceive God. Take the publican’s prayer in the parable told by the Lord Jesus for example. The publican honestly prayed to God to be merciful to him a sinner. He didn’t pray like the Pharisees, who only spoke about their good deeds without any mention of their own filth and uncleanness. By telling this parable, the Lord showed us that He approved of the publican’s prayer made from his true heart and detested the Pharisee’s hypocritical prayer which was an attempt to deceive God and people. From this we can see that only prayers in which we commune with God with heart and spirit are approved by God. After we pray like this, we will feel especially enriched and have enjoyment in our spirits. And if we frequently practice praying this way, we will feel the presence of God and enjoy the peace and joy bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Praying like this can bring us closer to God and also allow us to obtain His guidance and leadership in our actual difficulties in life.
2. We should be reasonable and not make demands of God when we pray.
God is the Creator and we are created beings, so when we pray to God we should have reason and a God-fearing heart, and not make requests or demands of God, or trade with Him. Actually, the reason why our prayer is ineffective is often because we take prayer as a way to ask for grace and blessings from God, in which we always demand Him to bless us with this or bestow us with that. For example, we pray for everything to go smoothly in our family, pray for the Lord to cure our illnesses, pray to get a good job and, when we encounter trials or refinement or other unpleasant situations, we pray for the Lord to remove them. When we pray like this, we have already predetermined things ourselves and are just asking God to fulfill what we have planned and demanded. This kind of prayer is actually unreasonable and lacking in the obedience and reverence a created being should have to God. By contrast, Job prayed in a very rational way during trials, who has set an example for us.
When Job lost all his wealth and children, he prayed to God, saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). In Job’s prayer, there was no transaction or demand. Rather, he was very rational and recognized his identity and status as a created being. He thought he was born with nothing and certainly should leave the world with nothing, so whether God blessed or took away, he didn’t make any requests or complaints, but instead just praised the name of God in his prayer. Because Job obeyed and revered God without making any requirements or demands of God, he stood firm in his testimony during the trials, and was approved and doubly blessed by God. From this we can know that no matter what situations we are in or how many unfavorable things we are experiencing, we should only pray to God and worship the Creator in the position of a created being, and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. We shouldn’t make requests of God or trade with Him in things we encounter, but should pay attention to seeking His will. If we act this way, God will definitely lead us and allow us to know how to face what’s in front of us and how to walk the path ahead.
Brothers and sisters, I believe that through the fellowship above, we have found the way to make effective prayers. That is, that we must pray to God in spirit and in truth and stand in the place of a created being to pray reasonably and submissively. Only in this way will God hear our prayers. Thanks be to God’s guidance. Glory be to the one true God who loves us!
Read more on our Sermons on Prayer page, or click on the related articles below.