Listen to this devotional
Table of Contents
- Talk to God like a friend
- Believe you’ll receive
- Practice self-control
- Put aside anger and quarrels
- Don’t hide your guilt
- Trust that God has your back
- Never stop praying
- Spell out all your troubles
- Pray for opportunities to make a difference
- Pray simple prayers
- Wrestle for those you can’t reach
- Rely on prayer when you’re tempted
- Tell God what you appreciate about him
- Don’t use prayer as a way to look good
- Find a place to be alone
- Pray instead of taking control
- Pray to solve problems
- Instead of worrying, pray
- When you don’t know what to say, just say something
- Thank God for the people in your life
I was sitting outside a Starbucks one sunny Southern California afternoon, enjoying a Frappuccino with a couple of new friends.
The women who had joined me were really nice people I had met a few weeks earlier when I decided to try going to church.
As we finished our drinks and began packing up our stuff to leave, one of the girls asked me — seemingly out of the blue —
“Would you like to pray?”
I froze. My eyes widened.
Pray? Out loud? In front of other people?
Okay yes, I had visited a church, but praying with other people felt way beyond me.
Thankfully, one of the girls quickly picked up on the terror in my eyes and reassured me with a phrase I’ve never forgotten:
“Don’t worry — there’s no wrong way to pray.”
And so, thanks to her, I did manage to say a prayer that day — out loud, in front of other people.
Since then, prayer has gotten easier, but it’s still challenging for me. Prayer is vulnerable, and I’m not much of a talker.
Take a look at how Jesus prayed:
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.Hebrews 5:7 NLT
Jesus’ prayer life was passionate, emotional, and vulnerable. He pleaded with God for what he needed. He cried. He expressed his feelings. He didn’t hide what he thought or felt. And he had a deep respect for God.
When I look at Jesus’ example, I realize that although I’ve said a lot of prayers in my life, I have a lot to learn.
So recently I decided to do a deep-dive into the Bible to let the Scriptures teach me how to talk to God. I used the Tecarta digital Bible to look up almost every verse I could find on “prayer” and “praying.”
Needless to say, there are a lot of passages in the Bible on prayer. I tried to narrow it down to 20 essential scriptures that I can always read and reread to help me talk to God (though you should be warned, I did throw in a few extra verses. It’s definitely more than 20). These scriptures have been helping me overcome my struggle to pray, and I hope they help you too.
Quick disclaimer: Twenty tips on how to pray may seem like a lot, but try to remember that prayer isn’t about checking off all the things on this list all the time. Praying is a way to get closer to God; just like in any relationship, sometimes we get stuck and need help getting deeper.
Some of these tips may be easier for you than others. Find the ones that speak to you personally today, and revisit this study as often as you need to.
Talk to God like a friend
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.Exodus 33:11 NIV
Of all the scriptures I found on prayer, this was my favorite. Ultimately, God wants us to talk to him like we talk to our closest friend.
How do you talk to your best friend? I often find that I talk to God awkwardly and formally, much like Ben Stiller in the classic scene from Meet the Parents in which his religious in-laws ask him to say grace before a meal:
I’m learning that one of the first decisions I have to make if I want to enjoy my prayer life is to believe what the Scriptures say about God – he is a friend. When I decide to believe that, I will want to actually talk to God.
Pause and reflect
- Who is one of your closest friends?
- How do you talk to that friend? Do you talk to God in the same way? Why or why not?
Believe you’ll receive
Okay, “believe you’ll receive” sounds totally cheesy, but it’s easy to remember and it is actually a really important part of learning how to talk to God:
Have faith that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.Matthew 21:22 GW
See? You have to believe that you’ll receive. Why? Because God cares about you, and believing someone cares about you is an important part of being friends.
Have you ever had a friend mistrust you or assume the worst about you? It hurts. Assuming that God doesn’t care about us will hurt our ability to be vulnerable with him.
“If your child asks you for bread, would any of you give him a stone?  Or if your child asks for a fish, would you give him a snake?  Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?Matthew 7:9-11 GW
God loves giving us good gifts. If you don’t believe that – and I haven’t on many occasions – then you won’t want to pray.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been surrounded by faithful friends who have urged me to pray for the things I want and need — like an effective vaccine, school reopenings, and safe ways to meet together. I’ve found myself wrestling each time to believe God will answer these prayers. Not only have these things seemed impossible, but I also feel insecure that God cares about what matters to me.
And yet, I’ve seen God answer these prayers again and again. Sometimes the answer hasn’t come right away, or perhaps the answer was “Not yet,” for reasons I don’t always understand. But I’ve had to trust that God has good things coming for me even if I can’t see them yet.
Remembering the prayers he has said “yes” to builds my faith that God does care about what I need and what I want.
Learning to talk to God starts with getting to know who he really is as the Scriptures describe him and dropping any negative assumptions we might have about him. The Bible describes God as a loving father who wants to give us good gifts.
So if he says “no” to something we ask for, or “not yet,” we can know that it’s only because he has something better in mind. It’s not because he doesn’t care or doesn’t hear us.
Pause and reflect
- Do you have any negative assumptions about God that affect the way you talk to him?
- How would your prayer life change if you believe God wanted to give you good things?
The end of everything is near. Therefore, practice self-control, and keep your minds clear so that you can pray.1 Peter 4:7 GW
Yes, you can chat with God like a friend. Yes, you can tell him anything. But you do have to practice self-control, and self-control in this context is about keeping your mind “clear.”
If you vent all your feelings and worries to God without letting him influence your heart and mind, you’ll probably end up more emotional, stressed, and wrought up than you began.
Praying without emotional self-control is one of my biggest challenges; I start talking, and then my mind starts running with all the things I’m anxious about. Before I know it, I’m so full of my own emotions that I have no room to think about God. My conversation with him becomes one-sided, and a one-sided conversation is unfulfilling. My prayer time doesn’t produce the peace the Scriptures describe (Philippians 4:6-7).
We need emotional self-control when we pray — so that can listen to and trust God instead of just listing off all our troubles.
Here are a few ways you can practice self-control and keep your mind clear while you pray:
- Pick a scripture and pray about what you learn from the verse about God. Try to believe what the scripture says more than your emotions. As you talk to God about the things that are on your mind and about what you need, always come back to that verse instead of believing the things you feel.
- Make a list of things to pray for before you start praying.
- Meditate on Scriptures. There are lots of great apps that help with learning how to calm our anxious thoughts and it’s helpful to practice this if you feel like your mind is running fast with fear and stress.
Pause and reflect
- How do you think your level of emotional self-control affects your conversations with God?
- What practical way could you choose to have self-control when you pray?
Put aside anger and quarrels
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. ”Mark 11:25 NLT
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!Matthew 5:44 NLT
I want men to offer prayers everywhere. They should raise their hands in prayer after putting aside their anger and any quarrels they have with anyone.1 Timothy 2:8 GW
Here’s something interesting I learned in my study on prayer: if you’re holding on to bitterness or anger toward someone in your life, it’s going to be hard (or maybe impossible) to have a great prayer life.
In fact, this point came up so many times I had to sneak a few extra scriptures into this study.
When you’re praying, the Bible says to first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against. Do you have that standard? That’s a hard one. But it makes sense why it’s hard for me to pray when I’m holding a grudge toward my husband or anyone else in my life. And even when I try to pray about my anger, sometimes I just find myself getting more angry.
The Bible’s solution for how to handle someone who persecutes or hurts you is to pray for them. Maybe that means people who hurt other people need a lot of prayer. I know that’s true for me — when I lash out at someone, I’m usually in pain myself.
Prayer brings understanding, calmness, forgiveness, and patience. Anger doesn’t accomplish any of that.
Anger is a very normal and understandable emotion, especially when we are mistreated. But there’s a difference between getting angry and letting anger control you.
Anger can lead to a lot of harm (James 1:19-20, Psalm 37:8). So learning how to handle our anger in spiritually healthy ways will prevent it from causing destruction in our relationship with God and other people (Ephesians 4:26-27, Proverbs 22:24-25).
Pause and reflect
- Do you have any grudges toward people in your life that could be affecting your ability to pray?
Don’t hide your guilt
Hear my plea for justice, O LORD. Pay attention to my cry. Open your ears to my prayer, which comes from lips free from deceit.Psalm 17:1 GW
Okay here’s something really cool (or really challenging, depending on how you look at it): God wants your conversations with him to be free from deceit.
That means if you messed up, sinned badly, crossed the line, or did something you’re ashamed of … don’t try to hide it. Don’t make excuses, or justify it, or defend yourself. Just own up to it. God wants the real you.
In fact, some of the most powerful prayers by some of the most well-known spiritual leaders and prophets in Scripture were full of confession of sin:
“…listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!”Nehemiah 1:4-6 NLT
“I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the LORD my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain.  As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice.  He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding.  The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.”Daniel 9:20-23 NLT
“At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the LORD my God.  I prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”Ezra 9:5-6 NLT
The tax collector:
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’  I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”Luke 18:13-14 NLT
I don’t know about you, but I feel like if all of these guys all had sin to confess in prayer, I certainly do too.
I spend a lot of time trying to be perfect and wanting to hide my mistakes. So I try to get rid of my guilt by making excuses for myself, like:
- I didn’t mean to do it
- I was just stressed, I couldn’t help it
- I wasn’t trying to
- It’s not a big deal
But these passages teach me that God is not looking for sinlessness; he wants intimacy and honesty. I don’t have to hide or justify my failures. God knows I’m a weak and frail human being (Psalm 103:14). He planned for Jesus to come to earth to take away our sins because he knew we couldn’t get rid of all our sins even if we tried our hardest.
When you talk to God, just own up to any mistakes you’ve made. Treat someone wrong? Said something you wish you hadn’t said? Don’t waste energy trying to excuse yourself or prove yourself. Humble and honest prayers move God.
Pause and reflect
- What are some sins you need to own up to when you talk to God next?
- How do you think owning up to your sins would help your relationship with God?
Trust that God has your back
… They had called out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayers because they trusted him.1 Chronicles 5:20 GW
If you’re saying a bunch of words when you talk to God, but don’t really trust him to have your back, you may find your prayer life empty and unfulfilling.
In this passage, we learn that God answered the people’s prayers because they trusted in him. Trust moves God.
In fact, I think many of the battles I go through in life are actually tests or opportunities for me to trust God. Perhaps the outcome of the situation isn’t even as important as whether or not I prayed with trust in God.
Pause and reflect
- In stressful situations, do you truly trust that God has your back? Have you ever prayed without really trusting?
- Why do you think it’s important to God that we trust him?
Never stop praying
Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually.Romans 12:12 GW
Short, simple scripture. But not always easy to do. It seems like one thing God wants us to know is that we have to keep praying. Do not stop. Even if you feel awkward, or you don’t believe, or you don’t see answers – never stop praying.
I think the Scriptures tell us this because one of our biggest temptations will be to give up on prayer. The inevitable discouragements or difficulties of life can lead us to believe that prayer doesn’t work, that God doesn’t answer, and that God doesn’t care about what we want.
But if we keep praying, we’ll see God work. We’ll begin to understand why things happen the way they do. Our relationship with God will grow closer. We’ll be able to be patient in times of trouble and happy in our spiritual confidence that God has our back.
Pause and reflect
- Is there anything in your life you have stopped praying for?
- How much do you still believe in the power of prayer?
Spell out all your troubles
I call out loudly to the Eternal One; I lift my voice to the Eternal begging for His favor.  I let everything that’s going wrong spill out of my mouth; I spell out all my troubles to Him.  When my spirit buckled under the burdens I bear, You knew my way. They conspired to trip me up and trap me on the path where I was walking.  You are the One I called to, O Eternal One. I said, “You’re the only safe place I know; You’re all I’ve got in this world.Psalm 142:1-3,5 Voice
When you talk to God, do you call out “loudly” to him? Do you beg for his favor? Do you spell out your troubles and admit when you’re buckling?
Each of these things requires a lot of vulnerability. To be “vulnerable” is to be susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. Of course, God won’t actually harm or attack us. He’s a safe place; he knows the way we should go.
But sometimes I’m afraid he’ll reject me, criticize me for being too weak to handle stuff in my life, or ignore my requests. So I hold back from spelling out my weaknesses and needs to him, and subsequently don’t experience the peace and safety God wants to give me.
Even recently, through the pandemic, I hate admitting I’m anxious about getting sick and I’m anxious about making a wrong decision that exposes me or my loved ones to Covid. But I often hide this fear and refuse to humbly plead with God for help. Instead, I’d rather act tough, try to put on a brave face, and pretend things don’t bother me.
Talking to God involves pleading with him for what we need. If there are any areas we don’t want to admit we need help, our conversations with God will stay superficial and we won’t learn how to be devoted to God through our difficulties.
Pause and reflect
- How do you feel about vulnerability?
- Are there any difficulties in your life you need to “plead with God” about with “loud cries and tears”?
Pray for opportunities to make a difference
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.Acts 16:13-15 NIV
The early Christians in the book of Acts were devoted to prayer (Acts 2:42). Many of the miracles and opportunities in this inspiring account of the early church were centered around prayer (there were too many for me to include in this study, but check out Acts 2:47, Acts 3:1-6, Acts 4:23-31, Acts 10, and Acts 12:5-11 for some faith-building examples).
Acts 16 gives us a great story of prayer and opportunity. Paul and his group of missionaries had arrived in the city of Philippi and, as was their custom, looked for a Jewish synagogue where they could preach the good news about Jesus. Apparently, there was no synagogue in Philippi, so they looked for a place where they might find people praying to God.
There they found Lydia, an influential woman. She was an entrepreneur, a merchant of expensive purple cloth. She was head of a household, and in that day, a household was an entire economic, social, and religious unit that including household servants and extended family. As soon as Lydia’s heart opened, her entire household followed suit.
Lydia’s baptism was significant, and gathering to pray was central to it.
For the apostles, prayer wasn’t just about pouring out their own troubles, though I think they certainly did that. Prayer guided them to opportunities to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. They were passionate about helping more people hear the Good News about Jesus and build a personal relationship with God. As they prayed, God led them to opportunities to do that.
Prayer helps us see things from God’s perspective. Paul and the disciples with him saw people around them, including Lydia, as God would. They noticed her spiritual needs. They noticed her soul.
Because of the apostles’ devotion to prayer and passion for their purpose, Lydia’s life and the lives of many other people changed that day.
What might have happened if the apostles didn’t go to that prayer spot that day? What would have happened to Lydia if they had kept to themselves?
As we pray, God will lead us to opportunities to make a difference.
I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt like I can’t make a difference and doubted God will work through me to help anyone. In those moments, when I’ve prayed for God to put someone in my life who is searching for him and promised I would help, God has always answered.
Pause and reflect
- Do you think your prayers can make a difference in someone’s life?
- Do you pray to find people who are searching for God and keep your eyes open for when they come into your life?
Pray simple prayers
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.Matthew 6:6 MSG
Here’s an encouraging tidbit: prayer can be simple. Don’t put pressure on yourself to say all the right fancy words. Just be simple and be as honest as you can manage.
If you’ve been a churchgoer for any length of time, you know it’s easy to turn prayer into a performance and “role-play” before God by trying to sound spiritual or pray extra-long prayers.
But this Scripture tells me I don’t have to perform right when I pray. God just wants me to be simple and honest, and he already knows what I need.
He also wants the focus to shift from me to him. Prayer isn’t just about making genie-like requests of God. It’s also about connecting with him, listening to him, and appreciating how powerful and strong he is.
Wrestle for those you can’t reach
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.Colossians 4:12 NIV
Sometimes, our friends and family members go through struggles and we feel at a loss as to how to help.
Maybe we can’t help because we are physically far away. Maybe they are not open to our help. Or maybe they are going through a loss or a difficulty far beyond our ability to fix.
One thing we can always do is wrestle in prayer for people around us. Epaphras was known for “always wrestling in prayer” for people.
When I decided to become a Christian — which was a very big life change for me — one of my friends who had helped me in my spiritual journey told me she had been praying for me for weeks to make that decision. Another friend told me she had been fasting and praying for me while I was trying to decide what to do.
I felt so loved that these friends had been taking the time to pray on my behalf, completely unbeknownst to me. Their spiritual and emotional sacrifice meant a lot to me; I knew they had moved God for me and as a result, my life changed for the better in ways I never could have imagined.
Pause and reflect:
- Are you known for wrestling in prayer for people?
- Who are some people you need to be wrestling in prayer for?
Rely on prayer when you’re tempted
Stay awake, and pray that you won’t be tempted. You want to do what’s right, but you’re weak.”Matthew 26:41 GW
Have you ever wanted to do what’s right, but just not been able to find the strength to do it? This happens to me all the time. I want to be kind, patient, and understanding at home. But then my anger boils over and I snap.
Perhaps the reason I can’t seem to overcome certain temptations is that I’m just not strong enough, and no human is. What Jesus says in Matthew 26:41 is we need to pray when we’re tempted. Don’t try to muscle through. Some things in life require spiritual power.
Pause and reflect:
- What are some temptations you need more spiritual strength to overcome?
- Try to pray for the strength to do what’s right each day. Practice relying on God for help instead of your own willpower.
Tell God what you appreciate about him
Sometimes I think 100% about myself when I pray. But God is not a vending machine; he wants a relationship. Check out this dagger of a verse:
Surely the prayer of someone who refuses to listen to God’s teachings is disgusting.Proverbs 28:9 GW
But, if you’ve ever been in a relationship where someone refuses to listen to you, you can understand this verse. Prayer isn’t just something we should do when we’re desperate before we go on with our day and do whatever we feel like doing.
Instead of thinking about ourselves, we can take time to tell God what we appreciate about him and reflect on what we’ve learned about him in his Word:
I lift my hands in prayer because of your commandments, which I love. I will reflect on your laws.  Remember the word you gave me. Through it you gave me hope.Psalm 119:48-49 GW
Side note – if you don’t spend much time reading God’s Word, you’ll probably have a hard time thinking and reflecting on what it says. Our relationship with God can become selfish if it doesn’t involve listening to what he says in Scripture.
Pause and reflect:
- Do you “love” God’s commandments? When was the last time you thanked him for something you read in Scripture and how it helped change you?
- How much do you reflect on Scriptures when you pray?
Don’t use prayer as a way to look good
They rob widows by taking their houses and then say long prayers to make themselves look good. The experts in Moses’ Teachings will receive the most severe punishment.”Mark 12:40 GW
This may come as a surprise if you’re not a religious person – but prayer can be something people use to make themselves look good. Jesus was addressing the religious leaders of his day who mistreated people around them and then prayed long prayers to make themselves look good.
I’ve done this many times. I say phrases like “I’ve been praying …” just to sound more righteous. I’ve made sure to pray for a certain number of minutes so that I can look like a good Christian if anyone asks.
My prayers get much better when I stop trying to perform and focus on being myself.
Pause and reflect
- Are there any ways you use prayer to look good?
Find a place to be alone
In the morning, long before sunrise, Jesus went to a place where he could be alone to pray.Mark 1:35 GW
One of the most important ways to have better conversations with God is to get away from distractions to do it.
Sometimes, for me, the biggest distractions are my own thoughts. I think everyone has their own unique battle when it comes to finding quiet time and space with God each day, but we have some helpful practical tips about creating “sacred space” in our comprehensive Quiet Time guide and they are definitely worth checking out.
I think the most important thing is making the effort to follow Jesus’ example of taking our minds off the physical demands of our lives so we can focus on God while we pray.
Pause and reflect:
- What are some practical things you need to do to make sure you get quality alone time with God each day?
Pray instead of taking control
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescending when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.James 1:5-8 MSG
Are there any areas of your life in which you just don’t know what you’re doing? At your job, in your dating life, in your marriage, or parenting maybe?
When I don’t know what I’m doing, I tend to get very controlling. I research, I make Pinterest boards, I read endless blog articles, and I scour Amazon for all the supplies I think I’ll need.
But what I don’t often do is pray. Planning isn’t bad, but sometimes I do it as a way to make my worries go away instead of trusting that God loves to help.
Pause and reflect
- What are some areas of your life in which you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing?
- Make a decision to pray for God and ask boldly and believingly for his help.
Pray to solve problems
But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.Acts 12:5 NLT
The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate.  Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists.  Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”Acts 12:6-7,11 NLT
Peter, one of the main leaders of the church, was imprisoned and things were not looking good. So what did the church do? They prayed very earnestly.
And then, miraculously, an angel came and broke him out of jail. This was a spiritual and miraculous solution for a problem that was humanly impossible to solve.
In our lives, we face a lot of problems that are too hard for us to solve. We can learn here from the early church that instead of feeling hopeless or despairing we can pray very earnestly, and God will answer.
Instead of worrying, pray
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.Philippians 4:6-7 MSG
Here’s another simple yet challenging biblical truth: instead of worrying, pray. That means worrying is a choice I’m making not to pray and trust God with my concerns.
The Scriptures promise that when I make this choice, a sense of God’s wholeness will settle me down.
Pause and reflect
- What does your level of worry say about your prayer life?
When you don’t know what to say, just say something
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.Romans 8:26-27 NLT
The first time I ever said a prayer, I think it was about two sentences long. I even introduced myself.
“God,” I said, a little awkwardly, alone in my room. “It’s me, Amy.”
Then I told God I wasn’t sure where I stood with him. My friend had given me a Bible and I was trying to read it but I told God I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to actually do everything the Bible said because that seemed hard.
I asked him to help me know what to do.
The next day, a friend of mine asked if I’d like to visit her church. I went with her that Sunday and I met some friends who asked if I’d like to get coffee with them and learn more about how to understand the Bible and how to put it into practice.
I was kind of shocked by how clearly and quickly my prayer had been answered. That experience has always built my faith because even though I didn’t have any idea how to pray, God knew what I needed.
So if you don’t know what to say to God, just say something. He knows your heart and knows what you need.
Thank God for the people in your life
First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people,  for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way.  This is good and pleases God our Savior.  He wants all people to be saved and to learn the truth.1 Timothy 2:1-4 GW
I never stop thanking God for you. I always remember you in my prayers.Ephesians 1:16 GW
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our prayers for you.Colossians 1:3 GW
We already covered wrestling in prayer for people, but another important part of our prayer life is praying with gratitude for people.
When was the last time you thanked God for someone in your life? When you stopped and prayed about all the things you appreciate about your spouse, your kids, or your friends?
Gratitude softens our hearts toward people around us. It helps us let go of minor irritations and it also humbles us as we realize other people have strengths we don’t have.
In these times of political divisiveness and enmity, prayers of thanks are all the more important to protect ourselves from the anger and hate that can easily seep into our hearts.
- Tell God something you’re grateful for about your spouse, roommates, kids, or friends the next time you pray about them.
- How does gratitude affect your heart and attitude toward those people?
And there you have it: 20 (okay a little more than 20) essential scriptures for those of us who struggle to pray.
I hope these scriptures can serve as a guide to help encourage you in your prayer life as they continue to help me.