Imagine never talking to someone who’s important to you. Let’s say your dad in this instance. You know him, you say you have a relationship with him, you even claim to love him and believe that he loves you, but you never, or rarely talk to him. Even if he’s far away or in jail or wherever, as long as you have a relationship with him, you’ll look for ways to keep in touch with him. Without consistent communication over a period of time, the relationship naturally begins to fade. Communication is key in any relationship, and it’s no different when it comes to God. Prayer is how we communicate with God.
So how often should we talk to God? As often as possible. Just as you would a friend or a loved one. It’s important to set a particular time, and sometimes even a particular place, when you can pray. Some people prefer first thing in the morning before they check their social media updates, before breakfast, before whatever it is they do. And in the evening as well before bed. It’s good to begin and end your day by talking with the Lord. But the bottom line is to set a specific time where you can pray without distraction. A time that you’ll automatically know is prayer time.
Study shows that if you do something at the same time every day for a number of days, it becomes a habit. Prayer should be the habit of Christians, after all, it’s one of the key ways that we build a relationship with our heavenly father. If you leave prayer time open to whenever you feel like or whenever you have the time, chances are that it won’t work, something else will almost always get in the way.
Prayer might feel awkward at first. Talking to an invisible entity is about as weird as it gets. I mean, what do you even say to Him? Is there a way to approach Him? Are there particular words I should use, a specific formula? Or do I just go in and read my list of requests? I recall how awkward it felt when I started praying without reading prayers from a prayer book. Before I got used to it, I felt really stupid.
Jesus told His disciples the ideal way to pray in what is universally known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ A lot of people recite this prayer as a prayer in itself – but mindlessly mumbling over memorized word is not really communication. Imagine trying to have a conversation with a loved one and you read for them a pre-written script, and each time you contact them, you read for them the same script. I feel the same way with reciting The Lord’s Prayer and any other prewritten prayer – it’s hardly ever from the heart. But this is a contentious subject as there are those who claim that as long as you meditate on the words and really mean them, then it’s okay. Still, I wouldn’t want a friend or loved one to call me and each time read me the same scripted conversation.
If you want to develop a deep, meaningful relationship with someone, anyone, including God, then conversations should be personal and intentional. They don’t have to be perfect or clever or interesting, but personal. Sure, there are many times we wonder how exactly to pray, how to frame our prayers, what to say… There’s nothing wrong with saying prewritten prayers as long as we make it our own. Read through the prayer and ensure you understand what it’s addressing, and if it applies to you. You can even change some of its content to suit your personal circumstances.
The Lord’s Prayer gives us the best example on how to frame our prayer.
Our Father who is in heaven: Tells us who we should address in prayer; acknowledges that God is our father.
Hallowed be your name: Tells us to exalt/worship God.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven: Tells us that our desires should not be above the desires of God. He is the potter and we are the clay.
Give us this day our daily bread: This is where we make our petitions.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us: Reminds us to seek God’s pardon for our sins, and in the same way to pardon those who wrong us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Here we ask God to give us victory over sin and rescue us from the schemes of the devil.
Amen: Let it be so.