Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Teach Me How to Pray - part 1

UPDATE NOTE: welcome if you're stopping by from my devotion. I've been talking about prayer, lust and clothes here lately ... no, they're not related, though I guess they could be! You can follow the links or hit the "home" tab at top-left and scroll down to read more if you want. Feel free to leave a comment anywhere, and/or a prayer request on this post and I will gladly pray for you today.

Hey Gals. One of my anonymous bloggy friends recently asked this question in her comment: "How do you organize your prayers? I find praying overwhelming because I have so many needs to pray about and I struggle with praying the right things for others. Do you have any prayers you generally use? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks."

I'm so glad she asked.

Hum ... reading between the lines of this question, I get the impression she views prayer - at least truly spiritual, effective, worthwhile prayer - as a lengthy, elaborate process that others seem to naturally understand and do, but for some reason she can't pinpoint or achieve.

Maybe I'm just assuming that because I used to have those kind of thoughts about prayer. I saw it as some mystical-like process that I never felt I was doing quite right. I felt inadequate as a pray-er, and therefore, inadequate as a Christan.

Can anyone else out there relate?

I also felt guilty because people would frequently ask me to pray for them, or I would volunteer to do so when I heard they were going through something difficult. With a heart of compassion, I'd reply, "Oh, I'll pray for you!" And I fully intended to. But then I'd forget ... get busy ... say that to five other people in the meantime ... and often never get around to doing it despite my good intentions.

Can anyone else out there relate?

For awhile, the only prayers I managed on a consistent basis was "saying grace" before dinner and saying bedtime prayers with my kids. Beyond that, I would typically only pray when in crisis mode.

Surely, someone else out there can relate.

I wanted to pray more.

I thought about praying more.

But it didn't happen.

Ed Cole once said, "Wishing will never be a substitute for prayer."

I believed in the power of prayer and knew it was important for a Christian to pray. I would make plans to pray... tomorrow morning... or tonight after the kids are in bed... or once I get a good block of time to focus on that... but in the words of the singer Norah Jones, "I don't know why I didn't come."

Catherine Marshall once said, "One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying."

And Corrie Ten Boom posed the question, "Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" For a long while, it was my spare tire. What about you?

Say tuned and we'll talk more about prayer. We'll even look at some of Jesus' prayers. Feel free to post any confessions, requests, or questions you have about prayer and I'll try to address them as I post.

Casey and Hazel, I've prayed for your requests left on my previous post. And I've prayed that each of you reading this have a great day today!


  1. Guilty... my prayer life has been more and more a spare tire. I am looking forward to the upcoming conversations. I hope you gals all have a wonderful day.

    In Him,
    Amy T

  2. I too am looking forward to the upcoming post! I too am guilty of not being the prayer warrior I want and need to be. Thanks Rachel!

  3. Thank you Rachel.
    I have been trying to improve on this since the new year began. I am better but still not where I want to be. It was only when I needed something or meal time, like you said, that I would pray. I am in need of big prayer. I just found out that my 18 year old son is having a baby with his 16 year old girlfriend. Oh mercy. I'm really struggling with thoughts of if my parenting lacked something for him which I know is related to not knowing Christ earlier as well as other peoples comments. I know in my heart that Gods opinion is all that matters but my mind says something else. I'll take all the prayers I can get. I'm looking forward to your posts.

  4. I can relate. I use to hear my mother pray every morning while she was getting ready to go to work or on the weekends while she was getting ready for the day. She, like me, could not sing, but she always came out singing a song. I've always longed to be able to do that. There have been times in my life that I would spend time praying (when my dad was sick and before I went to stay with him on Sunday mornings) but the rest of the week I admit it was difficult. I still have problems with praying for those I've told I would. Sometimes in my prayer I just say, God you know the people who have asked me to pray for them, will you meet their needs.

    I have learned to take authority over satan and command him to take his hands off me in the name of Jesus. Jesus told us we could do that. I really feel that God is doing a work in me to help me to pray for others. When I had back surgery in 2007 I was on morphine and didn't know where I was or what was going on, but my husband said that he could hear me praying and also using my prayer language. When we pray in the spirit we are praying for God's perfect will. I'm a work in progress, I really believe that and I give God all the glory and thanks Him for using "little old me".
    I look forward to hearing the comments of others.

  5. I truly believe in the power of prayer. I even discovered that one of my spiritual gifts is "intercession". I had to look up what that meant!

    Anyway, just recently, I started praying for people RIGHT AWAY when they ask. If I don't, I do tend to forget or I get too busy... So, if I'm talking on the phone and a friend asks for prayers, I pray with her on the phone. If I read an e-mail with a request, I pray right there before I click onto something else. If someone comes up and asks me to keep a family member in prayer, I ask if I can pray with them right now, and then I do it. I try to do this all the time now, although I have to admit I am a work in progress. I don't always have the courage to ask someone to stop in the middle of whatever we are doing to pray. Most of the time, the people are very appreciative.

    I've also started praying while I'm brushing my teeth. Specific prayers for specific people. Seems a little odd, but it is a good habit I've been working on (the praying part... not brushing my teeth!) My sweet sister-in-law had asked once that we pray for her ill step-mother while we all brushed our teeth and the idea just stuck with me.

    As far as knowing "how" to pray... I just chat with God like I would a friend... no fancy words from me. God knows our hearts... I don't think He expects elaborate language... Just sincerity!

  6. Hi Rachel :)

    Yes mam. I can more than relate. I've had all of the thoughts and issues about prayer that you discussed in this post!

    I'm so happy you will be touching on it.

    Kate :)

  7. Have you been in my head or the fly on my wall? I am guilty of all and feel the spare tire is soo me. My daughter is a prodigal and we will not talk to me. I haven't talked to her since Oct.08...I pray for her all the time..but feel that I am missing something or get to caught up in certain prayers that was sent to me by friends to pray over my daughter.
    I want to be a prayer warrior and have often felt this has a calling...but then to feel inadequate to be one. I am looking forward to learning more on this topic.

  8. Prayer used to be my spare tire...I'm trying to change that...but here's my dilemma: everytime I pray, I get "tongue-tied" & then think, "oh well, He knows what & whom I'm praying for..." so I shorten my prayers to something like, "I pray for all the people on my list, you know who they are & what they need"...that's cheating, isn't it? lol!
    REALLY looking forward to your next post! :)

  9. I'm tuned to your postings the coming days Rachel because prayer never came and come with me easy....

    Some things i learned to do at least is to feel free to talk any moment of the day with good and realize He is always there to listen!

    God proofed to me also that He will always listen and full-fill a prayer prayed accordingly to His word!!
    Almost 5 years ago i felt so lost to know what and how to pray for my marriage and dh's but i heard God saying to me..."Stay.....don't run away and PRAY......."I wanted to obey .and came accros a book from Stormie Omaritian Praying Wife with scriptual prayers in it...........
    I pray those prayers loud even with ,offensiveness and hesitation in my heart and i cried a lot to go on ...praying..
    But now all those prayers who get fulfilled one by one,more than i expected...and even understand i was praying about.........God shows His power....

    That's why He brings me to His WORD and from there He will learn me to pray....
    JESUS THE LIVING WORD !! prayed and is praying already for me and with me so even when i'm quiet and can't find words prayer is going up i realize........
    I love our God who knows our heart!

    Thanks Rachel..i stay tuned

  10. I just hate it that some times it takes me so long before I realize - oh my gosh, I should be praying about this.

  11. I have found that praying immediately after hearing and understanding someones prayer request is the best. Writing it down and taping it somewhere is important too. I have learned to find time by getting up one hour earlier helps me. I get up, get my coffee, turn on the lights (very important not to pray in the dark)sit up, eat something first; if need be, set my alarm so I'm not late for work, read a short scripture, and pray for each family member in order of age. Satan will try and discourage you or interfere in some way. He used to use my cats to interfere. I have a strick talk with the cats that they eat while I pray and they leave me alone. It works, they seem to understand. When the alarm goes off, I stop, ask all in His name, and when the car is warming up, I pray for myself and then the day continues. When someone comes to mind throughout the day, I will pause and pray for that person. Prayer has become my steering wheel and my prayer life has gotten to be a part of my breathing. But it didn't come easy at first. Takes committment. God bless you as you undertake this challenge of getting closer to Him no matter what tries to stand in your way.

  12. I love this subject. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in this world and also the most beautiful connection to our Lord and Savior. I think Satan would have us believe there is the right way to pray, the right things to say, the right way to do it (on your knees of course) LOL. When in reality, (I love what 5SKIS said about it) prayer is just communicating with the lover of your soul. He just wants to hear his children cry out to Him. (In good times and bad). I also loved the praying while brushing teeth. That's great!!! Prayer can be anytime, anyplace, with any words. It looks different for every person. Again, its just us communicating with a God who loves us so very much. I believe it's praising Him for who He is, praying His attributes. (You are Holy, You are worthy, etc) I believe it's confessing where you have fallen short. I believe it is thanking Him for everything in your life....good and bad. And I believe it is intercession for others. But all that sums up to just being real with God. Saying it like it is. He can handle it. He wants to handle it. I love a book I have called, Praying the Psalms. Read the psalms and just say them to God. So many of them speak exactly how I am feeling.
    I also have a puritan prayer book that I absolutely love. One more book I read in college. It's a little book and I don't know who the author is. I think it's called Prayer, the hour that changed the world.
    For all those who are struggling out there with feelings of inadequacy. I don't believe that is from God. He never belittles you or makes you feel worthless. The Holy Spirit convicts but only to help you to change for the positive...never to make you feel guilt-ridden or like a lousy person. (That's all Satan)!
    Just some thoughts, ladies. Hope everyone has a beautiful day, and remember to pray and thank God for that we woke up this morning! (Even if is snowing AGAIN where you live, as it is where I live).

  13. Praying hasn't always come easy for me but I found that if I talk to God often throughout my day it has been easier. The prayers don't have to be long and drawn out, just a quick thank you, praise God, or please help, can be sufficient. I also try to write down when someone asks me to pray that way I won't forget. Another thing I do is during my quiet time, I read my bible and then say prayers of not only requests but of thanksgiving. It helps if you practice this as a habit first and then the more often you go to pray the easier it is. God isn't asking us to pray long elaborate prayers. He wants to connect with us. This is a great subject to talk about. Thanks Rachel

  14. Rachel, I'm on the that page!! So often in my life, I can look back and God has been doing "the steering" but yet in my prayer life, it's like He's the "spare tire". What a great quote from Corrie Ten Boom!! I'm looking forward to being part of this discussion. Debby

  15. OH, I can so relate!!!!!
    Because of various reasons I have been absent from your blog, Rachel, and am so glad I checked in here again tonight because, well, I can relate so well to this and want to learn...

  16. I too was guilty about saying "I'll pray for you." and sometimes forgetting. Thank you for the reminder that we can pray short, right to GOD, right at the moment prayers.

  17. As I read Time To Pray in my email this morning, I thought to myself and said aloud. God you sure know what to send to knock me upside the head, to make me see things. I like you forget and then some time later I remember I was suppose to pray for him or her.So glad for this devotion this morning. I save every one so I can always go back and read again

  18. at a prayer meeting each attending was ask to pray out load about certain subjects that were on the church pray list, I was very nervous about praying out load. When it came my turn I froze, my mind went blank only three words came to mind. I was imbarresed and wished i hadn't gone. Now i'm reluctant to go to anymore. When i'm praying alone i have no problem at all. I know God doesn't want me to feel this way, so i ask for your prayers. Thank you so much.

  19. Rachel, thank you , I also needed to hear that and allowed having a husband an baby and stressful job get in my way of praying or feeling I have to do it later. Pray for me to live out the words you wrote today and that I will pray continually and purposefully. God Bless you.

  20. As soon as I started reading your P31 devo & blog I thought "Arrow Prayers" - growing up in Jr. high & high school, I had one of the best youth ministers around [not to brag], but if I learned nothing from him other than this it was pray without ceasing. He taught us about arrow prayers. A quick thought of "Lord Help me", to "Lord bless them in this moment of..", "give me strength", " help my friend to know I'm thinking of them today", "shower them with love", a scripture...whatever. And you can do it wherever - in your car, work, church, meetings, the shower...whenever it pops in your mind. A thought, a sentence or two whatever. It wasn't how long or the words you used to was communicating to God....and that was most important! Learning to lean on God through prayer. As I've gotten older, even when I wasn't so "in touch" with God...I always remembered arrow prayers, even though I still forget things to pray for - it's one of the best lessons I ever learned - maybe it will help somone else, and helped me to LOVE to pray.
    It's like a quick message tied to an arrow that you send straight to the heart of God!
    Can't wait to learn more!

  21. Rachel,

    Wow! I needed this devo to kick-start my week. Thank you.

    Loved the Scriptures. Loved the thoughts.

    Father, thank you for how Rachel has blessed me today. May her week be full of similar blessings coming her way. In Jesus' Name, Amen

  22. I am guilty of saying "Yes, I'll pray for you" and would forget.
    I bought a beautiful angel notepad, and I put everyone's name on it that needs a prayer. It is a great tool for me. I am a very visual person, and it has helped me tremendously. My children even put their friends names on it. This way we have a visual remember to pray for them. Even if we only pray together at night, it is a great reminder for us all.
    I was terrible at making up my own prayers. But now I know that Jesus knows who I am praying for and knows exactly what he wants for them. I place everything in his hands.
    Thanks for the uplifting posts Rachel.

  23. Rachel,
    I am going through a difficult time, my husband and I are separated and I want to make the right decision and have prayed about it many, many times. We have no children together but he has grown boys, grandsons and I have one daughter and a new grandbaby. There are several issues here that I just can't seem to deal with. He has to drink everyday, it is the first thing he does when he gets home and doesn't stop til he goes to bed, doesn't really get drunk but it is always so much drama, one son is an alcholic.He is very controlling and very jealous of the time I spend with my daughter and granbaby. He also has a problem with pornography to the extent he lost one job because of it but will not accept the fact that was the reason. We have talked recently about what we are going to do and plan to talk soon. We have been separated for over a year, still friends but there are so many factors that keep me from going back. He is 63 and I am 57. Please pray for me to seek the right thing to say and do. Is there any good book you can recommend to help me through this difficult time. I know if I go back, things are going to be the same. I am a Christian and want to do the right thing. Please pray for me as I go through this week that God will put the right words . Thank you.
    May God Bless You.

  24. Thank You Lord for your words and working through Rachel. Rachel I Thank you in advance for prayers for my family. My Father in law is struggling in the hospital it can go either way.
    I need some extra prayers for those family members. Especially the prayer of the family members coming to know Christ as Lord and Savior.
    I struggle with prayer. Especially praying out loud in front of others.
    Thank You and Blessings,
    Debra Z

  25. While reading the P31 devotional today, it was as if you were describing me. It is something I have been trying to improve on in these last few months. I was so thankful to read the words today, for this blog and for the many comments and tips left by others. As someone else commented, I too struggle with praying out loud. Your prayers are appreciated!! Thank you.


  26. OK, I'll post later this week on "praying out loud." It's hard when you feel like your prayers will be evaluated by others, isn't it?!

    :) Rachel

  27. Good morning Rachel!

    I am guilty of a weak prayer life. The Lord gave me a word on Saturday - Stand firm in the faith as you stand firm in the house of God. I am very involved in Church; perhaps too involved. I want to spend time in prayer, but am often too busy or too tired. It is much easier for me to pray in my head than to pray aloud. I am thankful that the Lord knows my heart and my thoughts, so He listens to my paryers even when He does not hear my voice. I am trying to start my day in communion with God. I want to know His heart as He knows mine. Thank you for your suggestions on how to have a strong prayer life. I am excited!


  28. dp.enterprise/K-9AllianceMarch 09, 2009

    Hello to all an Rachel I am new here an I do pray every day an it seems to go un-answered most of the time.I recently 2-17-09 lost my wife of 30yrs to lukemia at home in my arms;I am still very hurt an sad,but I honored her wishes to come home as the medical field an 2 hospitals an specailist could not fix her without something else going wrong with her so she wanted to come home to be with me an our pets lexy angel an k-9 kitty she was an animal acxtivist BIG TIME.They also all 3 of them were by her side when the event took place at 2-50pm on 2-17-09.I have been praying that she is happy an that the funeral home will release her ashes so that I may be able to put closure to her an some to me;but this perticuliart place is attimate about payment first an no ins. an living on a monthly buget makes me very angry that they wont let me or my wife get the closure we both need.I have been praying that they grow a heart an see my predicament an release her so we can put some closure to this(never be closed to me)I offered a payment plan that would strap me to no end just so that I may have my wifes remains close to me then 2hrs away from me but have not had any answer to this either??Now that said here is my question why do MOST prayers go un-answered not asking for anything out of the relm of normalcy except maybe a touch from my wife to know that she is alright an happy.I have been able to pay 500$ toward a 2095$ bill so far.I am not looking for pity or hand outs just some answers why people are the way they are????

  29. Thank you for today's devotional. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Please pray for my brother who has cancer, Larry M.
    thank you & God bless, Kat

  30. I am greatly blessed by reading this.
    I am always planing to get some lenghty time to pray but now I am praying no matter how short it is, i know God hears.
    God bless you.

  31. Rachel, I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say on the topic of praying for others. Many times I end up not praying because I don't know what to say, e.g.:

    > for someone in the hospital who has no hope of recovery - what do you pray for? healing is unlikely, comfort and peace seem so generic
    > for someone in a position like the person above whose wife died - what do you pray for? certainly that he would be able to get his wife's remains back (sounds like that's what his prayer request is), but that seems unlikely.
    > How do you pray for someone when you may only know their name?

    When it seems like prayer goes unanswered, one thing that I learned and try to keep in mind is that when we pray and the situation doesn't change, sometimes WE change....and that is the answer to prayer. (That may not sound right b/c I'm not good at putting things into words, but maybe you know what I mean)

    Reading this devo helps me get back on track just remembering that our prayers don't have to be big drawn-out affairs as long as they're heartfelt.

  32. Thank you Rachel for posting this. I have had the same overwhelming feelings of "so much to pray for" and I desire to pray for everyone, everywhere ALL the time! It's so hard and lately I have been feeling as though prayer is more of a burden than anything. I know that is not how God wants me to feel and so I've been praying to Him to teach me to pray and to pray effectively. This helped a lot! God bless you and this ministry! April

  33. Thank you for reminding us that prayer doesn't have to be for extended periods of time every time we pray. God hears us in our short prayers as loudly as He hears us in the long ones. Thank you for liberating us from the freedom of guilt in this great devo! Loved it!

  34. Thank you for the very appropriate devotional and post. I used to feel similarly, but over the past several years (and my parents' upsetting divorce)I have discovered that I have to maintain a constant open line between my heart and heaven in order to make it through the day. As I've told friends and co-workers, I will mention them in my prayers, for I am almost constantly on my knees in my heart. I don't know how anyone gets through this life without having a loving Heavenly Father to turn to with every single care. I know I couldn't.
    God bless your ministry,

  35. Awesome and very timely for me.

    Thank you!

  36. I can relate! Your devotion today and blog hit home more than I realized. I have had the same misconceptions about prayer and had fallen into the "procrastination trap" without even being aware of it. Thank you for putting it into words so well and bringing it to my attention.

  37. Wow! After I got home from work today I opened my email and I seen your devotional in my inbox... Time to Pray. I sensed that it was God letting me know that it's time to pray and don't give up. I've been in prayer and in faith for God to open a door for me to get another job with a stable work schedule so that I can be available to serve in ministry more faithfully and I went to my functional manager's office today and was told that there were no openings -- a door was shut in my face. Wow, how discouraging. I was fighting back and forth as to whether or not to keep praying about it, or praying at all for that matter, because in the back of my mind I think it doesn't work for me. I know my prayer life "sucks" and I constantly feel guilty about it, and I've tried so hard to make it better but it's really hard to continue doing it when I don't see any results. I want to continue to pray no matter how hard it is and many times I've prayed and asked God to change me and make me better in that area, as well as many other areas in my life, because I know I can't do it without Him. The devotional as well as your blog was very encouraging. I just wanted to say thank you.

  38. I would just like to ask everyone who read Rachel blogs to please pray for my son Josh who is going down the wrong path in life, and is in a lot of legal problems. Please pray that he find his way back to our Lord and savior. Thanks you.

  39. I have found that no matter what is wrong ,such as losing a loved one as has happened to me with my son dying from leukemia and my sister from a brain bleed.I have always maintained my prayer life even if somewhat garbled or that my mind wanders to other things,but I believe that god knows me so well that he still hears my prayers and deals with them according to His Holy will.
    Audrey from England.

  40. I believe prayer is communicating with God and its supposed to be done more often. i believe as christians we need to set a time for prayer and studying the word this wont take five ten or fifteen minutes i mean to be effective it will take more time than that. the bible talks about Asking Seeking and knocking in mathew 7 and in luke 18:1-3 talks about the persistent widow this teaches me that i should pray until i get results. we can pray in a rush with few words yes but we as christians our lives should'nt be based on rush prayers but we neeed to set aside time, more time for prayer like Jesus.

  41. I have been feeling so guilty about praying too and God has been sending me these 'tidbits' to conform my thinking.
    I have always presented "pitiful rags" like yesturday when a firetruck zoomed by, I sent up a prayer for the victims/patients but I have felt that was not good enough.
    Then the other day I began doing something that still feels awkward in the flesh but has been spiritually and mentally benificial. Don't laugh ,but I sit in a recliner in my living room and talk out loud to God, like I was speaking to my best friend/counselor. It has been more productive than all the unaccomplished intention to set aside prayer time.
    I still send up my "pitiful rags" too though!:)

  42. I normally have my prayer time in the morning and i spend a considerable time with God. the only thing i need to learn and find hard to do is to sit still and listen to God i need to figure out how to do that coz normally i pray and my mind starts thinking of all the things i have to do before work. How do i sit still?? Thanks Rachel

  43. Would you mind praying for my sister? She has ovarian cancer and will have a high risk surgery this Wednesday because her cancer returned in only 5 weeks. She just turned 36, is a believer, and has an 18 month old and fabulous husband. Her name is Guenevere. Thank you.

  44. idont have a good prayerlife and i need to have on. Please pray for me and my family especially my dad. thank you and god bless you always.Burnie.

  45. My first time here-- but am very much needing prayer for my dear friend who just had some cancerous polyps remomed from her colon. Please pray for her! and her family-- she has 3 young sons and a husband.
    God Bless

  46. Prayer to me is just talking to our Father in Heaven throughout the day, just like you would your best friend. Prayer need not be complicated, but keep in simple knowing that He already knows our requests.
    I was taught as a teenager to tell God, "I love you", thank Him for who He is and how good He is all the time, pray for others and myself. I hope this is helpful.
    In Christ's love,
    Cheryl K. Douglas


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