Praying for Beginners – How to Teach Someone How to Pray
What is prayer?
Prayer is simply talking with God and affirming what you believe, feel, have, and need. God is the source of all things, so we should of course be reverent when praying. But that does not mean we can not talk to Him like we talk to our spouse, best friend, or loved one. It should feel natural and intimate.
I always remember my kids that the reason we are all here on this Earth to love. It's that basic. That's all we are called to do. And prayer helps us to feel God's love and to be mindful to share that love to others as we go about our daily lives.
When should we pray?
You can talk to God anytime, anywhere. Mealtime is an easy, established time to pray as a family. Or leave your iPod at home during your evening walk or jog and talk to Him then. Do it first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Or even talk aloud to Him on your drive in to work alone in your car. It's best to make prayer a regular part of your daily routine, because life can get hectic and without a regular prayer time, it's easy to forget or put it off until 'later.' Many people even talk to God all day long, acknowledging His presence and thank Him for the good (and also not-so-good) things that come their way as they go about their day.
How should we pray?
In addition to just talking with God on a daily basis, you can pray using established prayers or make up your own. Be as creative as you want to be. You can try making the Bible a part of your prayer time-pick out a favorite passage that's meaningful to you, or read the whole thing in order! You can just be quiet and still and be with God. Or you could find others who want to make prayer a larger part of their lives and form your own prayer group. I had never heard of prayer groups outside of a church until I had a neighbor come by one day to tell me that her lunchtime prayer group at work had prayed for the health of my baby when I was pregnant with my first child. I was deeply touched by that, but also intrigued that such informal groups exist in a workplace.
What should we say?
Whatever format and time you choose to pray, there are a few key elements that are important aspects of prayer. First, prayer helps us recognize and appreciate God's presence in our lives. The most complete and simple prayer you can say is "Thank You." In prayer, we can express gratitude for all the good things in our lives and in the world. We can also ask for God's help for ourselves and for the people who need His help and healing, whether we know those people or not. In addition to asking for help, we should ask God how we can be of help to others. Praying can help remind us that we ourselves can bring His love and healing to others. And finally, we should remember to ask for forgiveness for the things we have done to hurt others or ourselves.
So as you can see, there is no right or wrong way to pray. Do what feels right to you. I've had more than one friend tell me they do not pray that often, because they find themselves only praying when things are going badly in their lives and they need to ask God for help. And consequentially, they feel guilty for only reaching out to God in bad times and forgetting about him in good times. So they just stop praying. And I always tell them that God wants you to go to Him for anything. I believe that going to Him only in bad times is better than not at all. God is always here for us and loves us no matter what.