I am a new Christian having accepted the Lord at the age of 25. I’ve been studying my Bible, beginning with the Gospel of John, and I have specifically wanted to learn how to pray. I have used the concordance in my Bible to look up passages on prayer, and have learned the Lord’s Prayer, which I pray every night before going to bed. I want to learn more of how to prayer, and would like to know what a prayer should include?
Praise the Lord that you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You have made a great start by beginning in the Gospel of John, and I am excited that you want to learn how to pray. The disciples wanted to learn how to pray, and Jesus taught them “The Lord’s Prayer” which includes all of the elements of an effective prayer. Prayer should include the following: (After reading this, go through the “Lord’s Prayer” and pick out each part. Matthew 6:9-15)
- Adoration: Showing love and praise for God not only for all the things that He has done for us, but simply for Himself. For example, read Psalms 100, 146-150, as good examples of adoration. The end result of adoration is not that God’s ego is satisfied, but that we perceive more clearly the fullness of His love and mercy.
- Confession: Even though we have received Jesus as our Savior and Lord, and He has forgiven our sin, we continue to sin on a daily basis for we are not perfect and never will be until Jesus returns. We, therefore, must, on a daily basis, confess our sins as I John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Perhaps we have had a bad attitude during the day, said something we shouldn’t have, left undone something we should have done, hurt someone’s feelings, and the list could go on. It is important that we confess, seek forgiveness, and repent of anything that might be contrary to God’s desire for our lives.
- Thanksgiving: Usually we are more conscious of what we want than what we have. A clear sign of Christian immaturity is when a person forever looks to God to do something for him or her and never recognizes what God has already done for us. Prayer should stimulate real gratitude; we need to consider the rich blessings poured out on us as individuals and as a world. Read Psalm 103; 111; 118; 136; 138; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18 as examples of thanksgiving.
- Intercession: We talk with God about others. We pray for loved ones and our enemies; for the church, the different levels of our government, and any needs that they might have (obviously the list could go on and on!). You also can pray for your own needs, as well, for Paul says in Philippians 4:19 that our God “shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Finally, it’s important that you pray your prayer “in the name of Jesus.” Jesus says in John 14:13—”And whatever you ask in My name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In all of your praying you are seeking the Lord’s perfect will in each situation.
You must also pray in faith believing that God will accomplish His perfect will. From Matthew 21:21 & 22, we hear these words of our Lord: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to the mountain, “‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” Again, in all of your praying, you are seeking the Lord’s perfect will.
Give this outline a try and watch your prayer life grow!
Rev. Sam Harris studied theology at the Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA. He was a contributing guest author to The John Ankerberg Show in the late 1990's and early 2000's. His ability to concisely and clearly present the Gospel in a easy to understand, relatable manner has continued to be an asset to the ministry. Sam is currently retired in Lookout Mountain, Georgia and lives with his wife of 50 years, Sandy Lee.
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