2017-04_LT-StarterGuidetoPrayer

How to Pray/My Prayer

Things to Talk to God About: A Starter Guide for Prayer

What I really want is to go get coffee with Jesus. I’m serious; I wish I could just call Him up see if He wants to run by a coffee shop and catch up like I would with any other friend. When I first started getting into my faith I wasn’t really sure how someone starts having a conversation with an omnipresent, invisible deity.

Learning to pray can be difficult at first but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. If you’re at a loss for words whenever you sit down to pray I hope these suggestions help you to get the conversation going.

Tell Him About Your Burdens

We’ve all had those moments where you know you should have studied more but the test is on your desk and you just need to do well to pass the class.

Sometimes it’s a bit more serious than that. Maybe someone you love is sick and you want their healing more than anything or your life seems to be falling apart and you’re not sure how you’re going to keep going on.

These are all crucial times to turn to Jesus. I’m sure you’ve prayed like this before, “Jesus, please help me” or “God, get me through this.” Asking for the help of God when we need it is a very important part of our spiritual life. He wants to know what you are burdened by so that He can help you to go through it. If you’re having a hard time sharing your burdens with God here a few suggestions to get started:

  • Be honest with God. If you’re angry, upset or confused it’s okay to be angry, upset or confused. When you pray you don’t need to act or talk a certain way for Him to hear you.
  • Ask Him to help you. It’s great to get all your feeling and frustrations off your chest but don’t leave it there. Jesus either wants to take these burdens away from you or give you the strength to endure them. By inviting God into our problems we cooperate with His grace and strengthen our relationship with Him.
  • Share what you are going through with a family member or a trusted friend. God often uses the people in our lives to relay truth or direction to us. Find someone who can help you through these difficult times.

Thank Him for Your Blessings

It is just as important to share with Jesus your blessings as well as your burdens. When I take a minute to reflect on all the good that is in my life it doesn’t take long for me to see that I am incredibly blessed. When we spend time thanking God it becomes very apparent how involved He is in our lives. This is a great practice to pick up if you struggle with feeling that God is distant or doesn’t care about you. Here are a few ways you can begin thanking God for the blessings in your life:

  • Make a list and keep it by your bed. Before you go to sleep add anything from your day that was a blessing to you.
  • Stop and pray when you notice something going great in your day. Just take a moment to say, “thank you Jesus for this blessing.”
  • Be more thankful for the people in your life. After dinner thank your mom or dad for cooking for you or let your best friend know that you’re grateful for their friendship.

Prepare for Temptations

As we continue to pray and grow in our relationship with God we might began to notice sins and struggles that seem to get in the way of us knowing Him more fully. These sins and temptations are a great thing to bring up in prayer. Jesus wants to be in a closer relationship with you so He is more than willing to help you remove anything that stands in the way of your relationship with Him.

Listen, this is not always an easy conversation to have. It’s difficult to admit that we aren’t perfect and that we do a lot of things we regret but turning to God is the first step to overcoming those habits, addictions, and pitfalls. By talking to Jesus about your sins and asking for the grace to overcome them you’ll begin to see how merciful and patient He is. If you’re struggling with sin and want to ask God for help here are a few things to start doing:

  • Go to Confession. Whoa whoa whoa before you say, “I can’t do that. I haven’t been in forever and I wouldn’t know what to do” recognize that if you are holding on to sins and regret then you’re not living your best life. God wants you to live free from guilt, shame and regret. Go to confession, leave those sins in the past and get a clean slate. Trust me you’ll feel incredible! If you are afraid of going to confession or you don’t remember what to do here is a great blog to help you out.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Nobody’s perfect. I’m sure even Pope Francis has had to go to the chapel some days and pray “Lord help me overcome these sins that I’m struggling with.” Trust me that you’ll only lose the battle to sin when you stop showing up to fight. Certainly our temptations may not go away overnight but if we persevere in prayer we will find that we are steadily moving closer to God and His Will. In summary, If you’re praying you’re winning!

Tell Him About Your Dreams

What do you hope to do with your life? What great adventures do you want to go on? How do you hope to make the world a better place? God wants to hear all about your dreams and aspirations! God may already know exactly what you like and what you hope to do with your life but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t want to hear about it.

The heart of God is the heart of a Father who loves his children and there is nothing that he delights in more than see you, His child, aspire and reach for greatness. He believes in you and wants to see you live an incredible life. Invite Him into your dreams and hopes for the future and I promise He will make you more than you can ever imagine. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are praying about your future:

  • Be patient. Everything happens in God’s timing. You may have great plans to be a doctor and travel the world bringing healing to the people who need it most. That is a great dream but that doesn’t mean tomorrow morning you’ll wake up with a degree and enough money to travel the world. Hang tight; God is moving even if He is not moving at the pace we would like Him to.
  • Don’t worry. Maybe you don’t have everything planned out and you have no idea what you’re going to do with your life. That’s totally cool! You don’t have to have it all figured out! A great prayer to pray in those situations is, “Jesus I trust that you have great plans for me help me to do your will.”

Don’t Say Anything at All

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. As you know, conversations are a two-way street so it’s really important that we include time of silence in our prayer life. Sometimes we drive ourselves crazy saying, “I never hear God! He never answers my prayers.” Well, have you ever thought maybe you don’t hear Him because you never listen? Scripture compares God’s voice to a quiet whisper that we must be still in order to hear (1 Kings 19:11-14). If our lives are constantly filled with noise we’ll that “quiet whisper” when it’s trying to speak to us. I really encourage you to add a few minutes of silence every time you pray to listen for God and give Him time to talk to you. If you would like to add some silent time to your prayer life here is what I would suggest:

  • Find a good place to pray where you’re not easily distracted, maybe a quiet chapel or set up a prayer space in your room.
  • Turn off your phone. Nothing can take our attention off God quicker than a ding from a cell.
  • Literally just sit in silence. I know this is going to be really hard. Silence is going to be uncomfortable but just learning how to push through it and focus our attention on our own thoughts and what God might be bring to our attention is a huge step in learning how to talk to God.

I hope that these tips help you in your pursuit of God. Learning how to talk to God and listen to His voice is not always easy but it’s definitely worth it.

Over time I’ve come to learn that as I’ve grown in a relationship with God through a life of prayer… I don’t even need Jesus to show up for a coffee date, the depth prayer is more than enough.

About the Author

Ryan McQuade

First things first, I'm the realest. I love Netflix binging, seasonal lattes, painting, driving with the music too loud, wandering through art galleries (looking for those Jesus paintings... of course), and Goodwill hunting. The best thing in my life though is my relationship with Jesus. He saved me and my life has never been the same since! I'm a graphic designer at Life Teen. Follow me over on Twitter @ LT_RyanM