I’m really excited about today’s topic and have had it on my heart this week. I have heard it often where people are not sure how to pray or if God even hears their prayers. Though, there are books on prayer, preachings on prayer.. one simple verse has changed HOW I view and go to God in prayer.
The only thing I really, really want to say before we get into it is honestly and truly, the only way you could be doing prayer “wrong” is if your prayers are not sincere. God is happy beyond belief to be in communication with you. He is happy beyond belief that you go to Him asking for help and council in your life and that you are seeking His will. If you’re beating yourself up that you are doing something wrong, let me relieve you of that right now. God is pleased that you are turning to Him. God hears your prayers… the timing and how He answers is always completely up to Him.
Let’s start.. shall we?
One day while reading the Bible, I stumbled upon the below bible verse. I felt like the Holy Spirit was guiding me towards this verse showing me how I should structure my prayers.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
This verse gives me peace and direction. Jesus tells us that we can have peace, despite our circumstances. But how do we experience God’s peace? Well, He actually tells us in the form of providing us direction in our prayer life:
- Don’t worry about anything
- Pray about everything
- Tell God what you need
- Thank him for all that he has done
These four points should be the foundations of our prayer life. Let’s look at each one
1. Don’t Worry About Anything
Worrying has often been a strong part of my life that I’m going to start by sharing what Jesus himself tells us about worrying.
“This is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
Every time I read this verse it builds me up. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we truly do not need to worry.I incorporate this into my prayer life by telling God exactly what I’m worried about. I tell God everything. I just let it all out. I tell Him what worries me in every area of my life. My relationships, my finances, my career, my health…I hold nothing back. If it is on my mind that day, that week, or that season, I tell God about it.
I even tell God when I’m worried He hasn’t been more present in my life. Yes, I tell Him about my spiritual concerns. I tell Him how I’m worried He hasn’t heard my prayer, or how I feel like He doesn’t care, or why hasn’t my prayer been answered.
Trust me when I say, tell God anything that worries you. If it gives you anxiety or concern, tell God. The purpose of prayer is to communicate with God, but also allow Him to communicate with us.
2. Pray About Everything
When I say everything I mean just that. We can communicate with God all day and not just in a designated time.
I used to wonder what was “okay” to pray about. In my head it was clearly okay to pray for the poor and the sick, but what about everything else? Was it “right” for me to pray for myself? Was I being selfish? I have a roof over my head, plenty of food to eat and an awesome family.
Is it really “right” for me to continually pray for myself?
I don’t know about you, but this was a real struggle for me. But Philippians 4:6 says to pray about everything. Actually James 4:2 even says, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it”. Wow, doesn’t that just hit you right between the eyes. It does for me.
One time while I was getting my nails done, I overheard a conversation between and two other women there that stuck with me. From what seemed like one of them was complaining about, the other responded “have you even prayed about it”? Stunned the other woman said, “well, no”. Then her friend responded, “well, how are you expecting something to happen when you haven’t even asked God for it?”.
Those words stuck with me. Taking our problems, concerns, and requests to God through prayer should be our first step, not an afterthought. Just pray. Pray about everything. Don’t worry if it’s a silly prayer, if you deserve it or not, or if you feel you have enough “bonus points” stored up in heaven for God to bless you. Just turn to him. Pray about everything, and as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually”.
3. Tell God What You Need
“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 we have what we ask of Him.”
(1 John 5:14-15)
I mean, we can have whatever we ask for in prayer, by simply believing that we have received it. Wow, that’s game changing. However I do believe it is always according to God’s will.
Now, come on let’s all admit it, we feel like we need a lot, don’t we? (I’m going to pretend you all are virtually nodding your heads yes – me included.)
We need that raise, we need that new car, we need our husbands to stop doing xyz, we need our children to stop doing xyz, we need a house (or we need a bigger house), we need more clothes, we need to get accepted into that school, we need more vacation time, we need, we need, we need.
Now I’m going to do something crazy and not make you feel like the things you need are trivial. If you feel like you need it, then darn it go ahead and pray for it! You give that request to God… and according to His will and time you will get it… sometimes we communicate with God our desires and though they can be put there by Him not everything we want is what He wants. However, we can always confidently go to Him and talk to him.. whenever.
Only you and God know what your motives are during prayer. I encourage you to search your heart and ask yourself, what is my motive for this request? There’s nothing wrong with asking God for help financially so you can afford a nicer car. However, is your motive because you want to appear wealthy, you want to impress others, or are you wanting to keep up with your co-workers or friends? These are the things you need to ask yourself, and God will also reveal to you.
4. Thank Him for All that He Has Done
Now (finally!) we have come to my favorite part of the 4 foundations of prayer that I think will truly create breakthrough in your prayer life, giving thanks.
During a low season, I started to journal. I honestly have never been much of a journaler, if that’s even a word. I could never stick to a diary, and the idea of keeping a journal just seemed daunting. But I knew journaling was important and giving thanks was important, so I would force myself to write down everything God had done in my life. Even when (literally!) there were days that all I could come up with was that I was thankful for my cat. You better believe I wrote it down.
What’s truly incredible is that by writing down what you’re thankful for, it does a number of things:
- Helps you to maintain a spirit of gratitude
- Helps you to see the positive and good things in your life (Philippians 4:8)
- Helps you realize your circumstances may not be as bad as they seem
- Helps you to see the progress of a prayer request
I believe that when we are thankful to God despite the negatives that are going on in our lives, doors open in heaven. It is totally okay to talk to God about things that you are unhappy with, these are called lamentations and there’s an entire book of the Bible devoted to them. However, you should always end your prayers with praise. Thank God for what He has done in your life, what He is doing in your life, and what He’s going to do in your life.
Circling back to the bible verse that changed my prayer life, Philippians 4:6-7, it says that after we tell God our concerns, pray about everything, tell God what we need, and GIVE THANKS, it is then that we experience the peace of God that exceeds anything we can understand.
This is what I have personally gained by implementing these 4 fundamentals of prayer into my prayer life, God’s peace. I feel more at peace about the issues in my life and the things I am seeking for in prayer. I feel like a weight has been lifted by telling God my concerns. I feel freedom in knowing I can pray about anything and everything, and share my life with God. I feel confident that God not only cares but He will provide for me when I ask for something (in His timing and if it aligns with His will). And finally, I feel more positive and grateful when I find something to be thankful for, no matter how big or small.