What is Prayer?
There are many questions people have about prayer. People often wonder in what position they should pray. Should they pray standing, sitting, or should the pray lying down? What should we do with our hands when we pray? Do we need to open or close our hands? What about lifting our hands up towards God when we utter a prayer? Can our eyes be open or shut? What about the location or time of our prayers? Should they be in the night or day, and should prayers be in church or outside in nature? What words do we need to say in our prayers to God? How do our prayers start? How do prayers end? These are common questions about prayers. There are others too. What are the correct answers? Do these questions even matter?
How God Views Prayer
Prayer is mistakenly viewed as a special formula. People mistakenly believe if we say the wrong thing in the wrong way, God will not be aware of our prayers. This belief is untrue. Not only is this belief untrue, it is also not biblical. God does not worry about our location, time, body position, or word order in our prayers. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us to be confident in our prayers and know he will hear us. He will grant what we desire as long as it is his will. John 14:13-14 also says, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." This scripture and others like it shows us God answers prayer depending on whether they are in accordance with His will in Jesus' name.
How Should We Pray?
What is the proper way to pray? Philippians 4:6-7 instructs us to not be anxious in our prayers. The scripture tells us to pray about all things, and we need to have gratitude in our hearts when we pray. God will answer all of these types of prayers with peace in out hearts. The correct pattern of prayer is to be honest with God and tell him everything, because he knows us better than we know ourselves. We are supposed to bring our desires to God, remembering He knows what is best and will not give us something that is not in our best interest. We are supposed to show love, gratitude and worship to God while we pray. We should not be wondering in our prayers if we are saying the right words. God has more interest in the substance of our prayers than the eloquence of our words. Fancy words do not make prayers more acceptable to God. Likewise, simple words do not offend God in our prayers either. What matters is the substance and intent of our prayers.
How Does the Bible Teach Prayer?
The closest prayer pattern in the Bible is the Lord's prayer. You can read it in Matthew 6:9-13. We need to remember this is not a prayer we are supposed to commit to memory and recite to God. The Lord's Prayer is only an example of the kinds of things God yearns for us to put in prayers. These things are worship, a firm trust in God, requests for help, confessions of sins, and submission to His will. We are supposed to use these items in the Lord's Prayer personalized for us in our own words. We should express our hearts to God. We can do this sitting, standing, kneeling; in a church or outside in God's beautiful nature; with open eyes or closed eyes; and in the morning when we arise or at night when we retire for bed. These are all personal decisions we make as circumstances determine for our prayers. What is important about prayer is for us to remember God's desire for prayer is for it to be a real and personal connection between Himself and us.
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