Learning How to Pray to God
For me, having a spiritual mindset involves focusing beyond what is going on in the world, by focusing my mind and my heart, moment-by-moment, on God, not just in a crisis, when convenient, or only on a Sunday. It means talking to God and bringing Him into focus, not just during specific, focused prayer times, but striving to be aware of Him in every moment that I breathe.
Stress, anxiety and depression can all cause the Christian to forget that God is present and that He is sovereign, and reliance on self instead of the mercies of God, can result in a state of overwhelmedness. I was not made to be super-human, but instead, I was made to be a fragile jar of clay, so that I would not rely on myself, but on Him who made me (see 2 Corinthians, chapter 4).
Do Not Be Anxious About Anything….
In Philippians 4, Paul gives away some really valuable secrets to unlocking peace and tranquility in my life, by teaching me that my anxiety is proportionate to my willingness to turn over every detail of my life to God’s loving care. In everything I encounter, I am to focus on The Lord, with thanksgiving in my hearts.
Paul teaches that by focusing on the qualities of God, I will overcome anxiety, and gentleness will flow from me where harshness once poured out. Praying to God effectively does not mean reciting a series of rote (memorized) words without emotion. Jesus taught his disciples to pray by first focusing in on the nature of God. “Our Father, who is in heaven, ” he began (Matt 6). God is my Father. This is not to say he is flawed like all earthly fathers, but that He is my protector, my overseer, and the shepherd of my heart. He laid down His life for me in sending Jesus to die for my sins. That’s the love of my Father. So I begin my prayers by realizing that I am speaking to the one who has the power to walk me away from anxiety, depression and stress.
Everything that is in the world (including us), was created by Jesus, for Jesus, and through Jesus (Colossians 1). Jesus holds everything together by His powerful Word, and indeed, He is the Word of God (John 1). I am not just praying to the cleaning staff in the building; I am praying to the owner, the boss, the C.E.O.; I am praying to the one who runs it all. As such, God expects that I will trust Him, and believe He is there for me.
In your prayers I am purposeful in being real, authentic, and transparent. I am not praying to God to look good, but to lay out before Him the gratitude, fears, and hopes of my heart. I ask Him to mould my heart into the likeness of His. He is not there to be a wish-granter, but to bring peace to my heart. He wants me to have a security and peace that transcends understanding.
Your prayers do not need to be any specific length. Better a 1-minute prayer, than babbling on and on in meaningless rhetoric. God wants your heart and your love.
There is no recipe for prayer, per se. God wants to speak back to His children when we pray to Him, so I try to include The Word of God in my prayer times. There are countless Scriptures that teach me to trust God with my fears and discouragements, and help to lift me out of the pit of depression and outfit me with a positive mindset. Memorizing small passages of Scripture and praying them back to God when in the midst of turmoil can do wonders for bringing about peace in the midst of life’s storms.
The point is to pray moment-by-moment as I live my life, inviting God into my every thought, my every decision, and my every emotion. I cannot hide anything from Him. Letting God and Christ walk alongside me allows me to be closer to people, and I have found repeatedly that God works through people to bless and comfort others. Letting Christ walk alongside me means being mindful of His presence there with me, all the time.
Finally, take on the focus of Christ, by being outward-focused. The inward, self-focused person dwells on life’s issues and problems and hence, magnifies their own self-importance and their own problems. There is a hurting world out there. Find someone who needs your comfort and friendship, and walk with them. Be aware of people around you, so you can be responsive to others in their time of need. You’ll be amazed at how God sees to it that, in serving others, your very needs will be met.
Christians are God’s channels. Christ desires to flow through you to others, and through others to you. Prayer helps to direct and unleash the power of Christ, that same power that raised Him from the dead. The time you spend in mindful prayer will refresh you and strengthen you, so that you will have peace enough to share with those around you.
If you are wanting to find a good, free online Bible resource in numerous modern translations, click on BibleGateway.com.
Peace be with you.