Ministry Resources

When You Pray

When God made us, He put something in us that reaches out for Him. We realize that we need a power greater than our own to solve our problems, protect us, and meet our needs. Through prayer we learn to reach out to God for help.

Come to God the Right Way When You Pray

Have you ever heard children arguing as they play together?

“Give it to me, now!” one says.

“Why?” asks the other.

“Because I want I!” says the first.

And on they argue, back and forth. They have not yet learned how to approach others when asking for the things they want.

Some people act like these children when they pray. But although God always hears us when we pray, we need to come to Him the right way.

In this lesson, you will learn how to come to God with an attitude that shows Him the respect and honor He deserves. You will study what the Bible teaches about the way, time, and place to pray. The things you learn will give you confidence when you talk to your Heavenly Father.

In This Lesson You Will Study:

  • What Is the Right Way?
  • With What Attitudes?
  • Where?
  • In What Position?
  • In What Pattern?

This Lesson Will Help You:

  • Come to God on the right basis and with the right attitudes.
  • Follow the Bible teaching about how, when, and where to pray.

Objective 1

Explain the importance of coming to God through His Son, Jesus. “Does it really matter how we pray?” some people ask. “Don’t all religions lead to God?” Jesus said:

John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” And so we go to the Father through Jesus, on the basis of what He has done for us. We pray in Jesus’ name, presenting His promises just as we might write a check on the Bank of Heaven. His account is not overdrawn. And Jesus Himself is there to honor the promise, to identify us as authorized to draw on His account. The Bible tells us about this for those who believe in Him:

John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.”

Hebrews 10:19 We have, then, my brothers, complete freedom to go into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus.

Hebrews 4:14-16 We have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God— Jesus, the Son of God. Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us be brave, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.

With What Attitudes

Objective 2: Identify the proper attitudes we should have in approaching God.

Respect, Joy, Thankfulness, Confidence

Thinking about who God is and of His goodness, love, and power makes it easier for us to come to Him with the right attitudes. We come with respect and submission to our Lord and Maker, ready to do whatever He tells us. We come to our Father with joy, thankfulness, and confidence. We know God will hear and answer our prayers because He loves us and because He has promised to give us what we need. Jesus has told us about prayer:

Luke 11:9 “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”

When we have truly prayed and have heard God speak to us or have seen Him answer, we learn from experience that He does hear and answer prayer. This strengthens our faith. Sometimes we have to wait with patience, but we can trust and thank God for the answer that will come.

Remember, too, that God has no favorites. He loves everyone and welcomes us all. The apostle Peter learned this by experience and said:

Acts 10:34-35 “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Whoever fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what race he belongs to.”

Humility and Repentance

Jesus once told about two men to illustrate the right and wrong attitudes in prayer:

Luke 18:10-14 “Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me a sinner!’ I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home.”

Pride and a critical attitude toward others are sins. And sin separates us from the presence and blessing of God. The Pharisee was shutting the door in his own face. But repentance (being sorry for the wrong we have done and wanting to stop doing anything that is wrong) opens the door for us to receive forgiveness and God’s blessing. Humility is the opposite of pride. The tax collector knew he was a sinner and acknowledged it. He knew he didn’t deserve God’s blessing (none of us do!) but he came asking for mercy. And God forgave him.

Forgiving and Loving Others

Hatred, resentment, and unwillingness to forgive those who have wronged us will close the door between us and God in prayer. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.”

If we have done someone else a wrong, Jesus teaches us that we should make it right, ask forgiveness. We should be careful to treat others with love and kindness in our home, at work, or wherever we are. Harsh attitudes hinder prayer.

Matthew 5:23-24 “So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

Estela, a young Peruvian school teacher, was praying for God to fi ll her with the Holy Spirit. As she prayed, God brought to her mind the resentment she felt against a certain person. “Lord,” she prayed, “I forgive her. Please forgive me for holding resentment against her. Tomorrow I will write her a letter and ask her to forgive me.” Immediately a deep joy and peace filled Estela and she praised God as He answered prayer and filled her with His Spirit.

Sincerity and Earnestness

Mean what you say when you pray. Too often we simply say a prayer without really thinking about what we are saying. Jesus had a great deal to say about this.


Objective 3: Discuss what the Bible says about when and where to pray.

First, remember that God is everywhere; so, wherever we are, God will hear us and answer. However, we learn in the Bible that there are special places of prayer. Our churches, like God’s temple in Jerusalem, have been dedicated to God as His house where we go to meet with Him. They are special places of worship.

Mark 11:17 “God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.’”

Jesus let people know that the place was not so important as the attitude, but He also said we should pray privately at home. We follow this principle when we pray silently within ourselves, but it is good to have a place where we can get alone with God regularly. There we can think and listen quietly for the voice of God when we pray.

Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.”

God shows us in His Word that we should pray with others too. You may do this with a friend who is willing to be a prayer partner with you. If possible you should pray with your family. In many places prayer groups meet in homes or in other convenient places. We read about one such group in the book of Acts, a women’s group that met down by the river. And then of course, you will have a special opportunity to worship God as you join together with other believers in His house.

The Bible teaches that there are many times and situations when we can grow through the blessing of prayer. So, friend, pray wherever you are.

In What Position?

Objective 4: Describe what the Bible says about physical positions for prayer.

In the Bible we find that people sometimes stood to pray, showing respect and reverence. Sometimes they knelt, as they might before a king to show their respect, submission, and willingness to obey his orders. The Psalmist spoke of praying in bed during the night. We read that David “sat before the Lord,” and the 120 believers were sitting when the Holy Spirit filled them on the Day of Pentecost. If we are praying for a long time, it is important to be comfortable and relaxed, thinking about God instead of about how uncomfortable we are. Sometimes, though, we may want to stand up and walk about in order to keep wide awake when we pray.

Some pray with closed eyes to shut out any sights that would distract their attention from God. Some lift their eyes toward heaven in prayer as Jesus did. Sometimes we bow our heads and clasp our hands in an attitude of worship and of earnest request. Sometimes we take the hand of the person with whom we are praying, uniting our prayers in agreement. Sometimes, as people did in Bible times, we lift our hands to God in praise or stretch our hands in supplication as if to receive the answer. We may place our hands on the person for whom we are praying, in Jesus’ name, trusting that He will use our hands as His to heal or encourage the person or set him apart for a special work.

Psalm 95:6: Come, let us bow down and worship him; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!

Psalm 134:2: Raise your hands in prayer in the Temple, and praise the Lord!

Matthew 6:9-13: This then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, May your holy name be honored; may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.

You may be used to a different translation of this prayer. I like the ones that include the ending found on some ancient manuscripts: “For thine (yours) is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.” In this way we begin and end our prayer with recognition of who God is and looking forward to the time when He will establish His perfect rule here on earth. Amen means “may it be so.”

In this beautiful model prayer, Jesus tells us to pray “Our Father in heaven.” God is the One to whom we pray. We come with confidence as His children to talk with Him about our needs. We come respectfully, praying that His name may be honored-that we and others may honor Him.

One of the first and most important things for us to pray about in every circumstance is for God’s will to be done—that He may do what He knows is best. As we let Him guide us in prayer, He will impress on our minds what to pray for, what He wants to do. We cooperate with Him as we pray in His will for those things that are best for our family, our nation, and the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our heavenly Father loves us and wants to give us whatever we need for each day—the work to earn our food, the strength and health to work, the wisdom, the right relationships, shelter, clothing—He tells us to ask for it.

We are to pray for God to forgive us for anything that we have done wrong. This includes getting rid of any bad feelings that we may have toward anyone else. It also means that we stop doing what is wrong. We ask for God’s help to do right, along with His forgiveness for our faults and failures.

We pray for God to guide us and help us, that He won’t let us surrender to temptation. And we ask to be kept safe from the power of Satan, the tempter, the evil one, the enemy of God and our souls. This may include deliverance from his attacks: from doubts, fears, wrong attitudes, sickness, discouragement, anything that would hinder us from doing God’s will.

We close by reminding ourselves that God is in control! He will give the victory. His power is sufficient for all our need. And someday we will see Him and live with Him forever in His perfect kingdom. His is the glory forever, Amen!



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