For some of us, it’s easier to talk with God spontaneously during the day: a request here, a thank-you there. To pray anywhere and anytime is an amazing blessing of knowing God. But momentary talks with God are not enough. Imagine a father who comes home and chats for a moment, then leaves. Even if he returns at random, what kind of relationship does he have with his family? Our challenge is to pray faithfully and with focus.
Praying in the Holy Spirit
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God…” (Jude 20-21)
One way you can keep conscious of God’s love is when you pray in the Holy Spirit. This phrase is unique in the New Testament and it means to pray “so that the Holy Spirit is the moving and guiding power.” * He enables you to pray and gives you direction in your talk with God. How does this happen?
The Spirit enables you as you trust in the truths of God’s Word. When the word of Christ dwells richly in you, the Holy Spirit works powerfully in you. (Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:18)
Most Christians tend to come to God with needs such as health, work, safety, children, a reliable car, and so on. These are natural prayer requests — and there are millions of unbelievers who pray sincerely to their gods with these same requests! But when you pray from the Bible, the Holy Spirit shapes your desires into something different. You become more passionate for what God wants overall, for Jesus to be exalted through your health or work or family, and for others to know Him.
Praying with an open Bible
I believe the main method for prayer is to pray the Word: to read the Word and turn it into prayer as you go. Reading the Word in prayer helps you to draw from the Holy Spirit’s power and direction. After ten years of struggling to concentrate in prayer, George Muller was transformed by this practice:
“…the first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching…to get blessing out of it. …The result I have found…that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not…give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.” *
The best way to learn is through the prayers of the Bible. Starting with the Lord’s prayer, there are many prayers in the New Testament you can pray concerning yourself or others. The Psalms are also an excellent text for prayer. Talking with God is not natural communication but by grace, it is communication that you can learn.
* From “The Practice of Prayer in the Fight for Joy,” When I Don’t Desire God (John Piper)