How to Pray

Learning how to pray is one of the most important spiritual truths you can learn.  John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  Nothing can be done in God’s work that will count in eternity without Him.  Nothing.  We are also dependent upon Him in every area of our lives.  We live in a sin stained world.  Trouble, trials and temptations abound everywhere we look.  It is a dangerous thing to think that you don’t need prayer or that somehow you are above it.  Jesus was God in the flesh; He was absolutely sinless, and He was a man of prayer.  He would often go apart and pray for long periods.  It was a well-known fact.  Judas knew where to find Jesus because he knew that He would be praying and Judas knew where Jesus would be praying.  If prayer was such an important part of Jesus’ life, it should be an important part of our life.

The disciples walk with Jesus and watched Him.  They saw how He prayed and how often He prayed.  They witnessed firsthand the results of His prayers.  In Luke we will see that on a certain day they were watching Jesus pray.  They realized how far short they fell in the matter of prayer.  By the way that is the first thing in learning how to pray.  You need to realize that you are not there yet; that you need to learn; that your need is great.  You need to see the need and be willing to learn.  After realizing this the disciples did a very wise thing.  They asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Luk 11:1  And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

I have always loved the way He answered.  He did not give them a prayer to repeat over and over.  Instead He gave them some general principals about prayer.  Principals that we can also see else ware in the Word of God.

I.  Take Time to recognize who it is you are talking to.

Luk 11:2  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven,

a. He is your Father. You are His child.

He loves you and wants to hear from you.  Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

This is an amazing thing.  We can cry Abba Father.  That is the same words that Jesus used.  Mark 14:36  And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

b. He is not just a Father. He is the Father that is in Heaven.

He is the Almighty.  He is the creator of all that is.  This means He has all power.  No request is beyond His power.

You can see this principal in many of the prayers that are recorded for us in the Bible.  When Solomon prayed to dedicate the temple, he started the prayer with a recognition of how great God is.

2Ch 6:14  And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:

2Ch 6:15  Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.

After that recognition Solomon’s prayer continues with asking from verse 16 thru verse 42.  His prayer is mostly asking but he does start with a recognition of who he is praying to.  And we see that God is well pleased with his prayer.

2Ch 7:1  Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.

2Ch 7:2  And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house.

It is good to start a prayer remembering that He is our Father who is in heaven.

II.  Take time to reverence God in prayer.

Tell God how worthy He is.  In answer to the question on how to pray Jesus said, Hallowed be thy name.  The word Hallowed means sacred and reverenced.  God needs to be approached with reverence.  It can be very helpful to get your mind in a state of reverence by remembering How Great and Powerful He is.  Hezekiah did this when he prayed in 2 Kings.

a. Hezekiah did it.

2Ki 19:15  And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.  Then Hezekiah continued his prayer by asking.

b. Nehemiah did it.

Neh 1:5  And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:  Then Nehemiah continued in prayer in asking.

c. Jerimiah did it.

Jer 32:16 Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,

Jer 32:17  Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

Jer 32:18  Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name,

Jer 32:19  Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

But you say there are a lot of other prayers in the bible that do not start out that way.  They just start out asking.  That is right.  All prayers do not need to start out this way.  But remember from Abrahams servant, not everything needs to be said with words.  You do not have to start your prayer out with reverence, praise or worship, but to pray correctly we need to have that attitude in our heart when we pray.  When teaching how to pray Jesus told them to pray Hallowed be thy name.

More than one Christian has asked whats wrong, when I pray it is dry and cold.  What should I do?  A good question to ask them is are they spending anytime reverencing God in prayer.  Praying without a reverent attitude is not the only thing that can make prayers dry and cold, but it is a major reason.   Prayer is mainly about asking, but not only about asking.  Prayer is also about reverence, worship, praise, and telling Him Thank you.

III.  Keep your priorities straight.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  I believe it is no accident that Jesus puts praying for God’s work first in the list of things to ask for.  We are to pray for His will to be done; for His kingdom to come.  Many of the things that we pray for pale in importance to God’s work.  Do not misunderstand.  Some of the things we pray for are important, but they do not impact eternity.  God loves lost souls, He delights in showing mercy, He is not willing that any should perish, He is very willing to empower His work.  But He wants to be asked.  In fact He told us to ask.

Luke 10:2  Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

We are to pray that people will be called into the ministry and sent out into His harvest.  The above command would apply to local members going out and witnessing, and it would also apply to men and women being called to be pastors and their wives.  God does the calling and the sending, but we are to be doing the asking.  We greatly need to pray that God would send forth laborers into his harvest.

We are also to pray for those in the ministry.  2 Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

2Th 3:2  And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

You see this many times in the Bible.  Ministers asking for prayer.  Prayer for the work of God is extremely important.  We are totally dependent upon God to empower His work.  Jesus said it this way.  John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Praying for God’s Work is so important that when teaching how to pray Jesus put that first in the section of asking.

IV.  Pray for our physical needs.

Luke 11:3 Give us day by day our daily bread.

Luk 12:27  Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Luk 12:28  If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Luk 12:29  And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

Luk 12:30  For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

God knows what we need.  And you are more valuable than the lilies or the sparrows.  He will provide.  But He does delight in being asked.  He wants to give us the good things that we need.

Mat 7:7  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

Mat 7:8  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Mat 7:9  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Mat 7:10  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

Mat 7:11  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

V.  Pray for our Spiritual Matters.

Luk 11:4  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

We are just as dependent upon God in spiritual matters as we are dependent upon food for our bodies.  We have no strength in and of ourselves.  There is a roaring lion who wants to destroy us.  But we do not have to despair.

2 Sam 22:33  God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.

1Ch_16:11  Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually

God has all the help we need for all things.  But we must ask.

Heb_4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


Learning how to really pray is very important.  Our spiritual wellbeing depends upon it.  Others need to be prayed for, they need the blessings of the answers to our prayers.  And most important the Work of God is dependent upon the prayers of God’s children.  We need to pray reverently, earnestly and fervently.  If we would return to praying like the saints of old, then we would return to seeing the working of God like they did.

See more lessons on prayer