“But when you pray, go to your private room, close your door and pray to your father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. “(Matthew 6: 6)
How do we communicate with God? Ask this question to any believer and the answer will come immediately. We pray. Whether a newbie in the faith, a long-time believer or even an unbeliever, everyone knows the answer. Based on what we know and read in the Bible, prayer is the clearest way people communicate with God. In the past, people prayed and made sacrifices, but after what Jesus did in Gethsemane, the ultimate sacrifice was made. Today there is no longer any animal or blood sacrifice for Christians, but prayer remains a constant. Much like previous believers who prayed in the Bible, we still pray today for the same reasons. Our reasons are: seeking wisdom, saying thank you, complaining, asking questions and more. We speak to God just as we do to another person, albeit with much more awe and availability. Similar to talking to another person, our communication with God is not always clear. Although God certainly understands and knows our hearts, we do not always understand what to pray for or how to pray.
So while everyone can easily answer the question of how we communicate with God, not everyone can define good communication. So one question remains – what are the keys to effective prayer?
We as believers can easily talk about the meaning or power of prayer, but it is not as obvious as to how to pray well. Again, God understands and knows our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve our prayer life.
What does it mean to pray effectively?
“Call me and I’ll answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things that you don’t know.” (Jeremiah 33: 3)
To understand how to pray effectively, we need to understand what constitutes effective communication. There are many examples to choose from, public speaking, working seminars and our daily conversations. Here are some of the things that make or break communication:
Do you enjoy being heard in a conversation or would you rather just let the other person do the talking? When two people get together for a discussion, especially when they are debating, both parties want to be heard. Everyone has beliefs that they want to express. Neither side receives these ideas without listening. We are experiencing the effects of a lack of listening in our current political sphere.
We know someone is listening when they can ask questions about what has been shared. Imagine telling someone about a hard day at work. They know they are listening when they ask for more details, not when they shift the conversation to what they ate that morning.
What is the point of the conversation? Making the intention as clear as possible ensures that both parties can walk away without confusion. When a speaker is speaking to a crowd, he is communicating effectively only if the speech has a purpose. Otherwise he’ll end up wasting everyone’s time.
These points, along with many others, contribute to effective communication. However, prayer is a little different because prayer is more than just two people speaking. Prayer involves the human individual communicating with God. This type of communication requires a lot more awe and trust from us than we give to other people. Because we treat God differently, we can take our knowledge of good communication between two people and examine what the Bible says about good communication with God. There are clear similarities, but also clear differences.
What Does the Bible Tell Us About Effective Prayer?
While we can speculate and discuss what makes prayer effective, the Bible gives many insights. If there is one subject mentioned frequently in the Bible, that subject is prayer. The Bible gives many descriptions of people praying to God, along with an abundance of examples. Jesus, Paul, Abraham, many biblical figures served as models for believers today. By following these examples and what the Bible specifically says about prayer, we can strengthen our communication with God.
Effective Prayer Key # 1 – Pray Honestly
“Lord, you searched and recognized me. You know when I sit down and when I get up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You watch my travels and my rest; you know all my ways. “- Psalm 139: 1-3.
God watches us all our lives. He knows where we are at all times, what we are doing, even why. Nothing we do is hidden from God, nor is anything we pray about. So much in the Bible points to God’s sovereignty (knowledge and control) over our lives. When we apply this to our prayers, we know we can be open and honest. We do not need to hold back when we have committed serious sins. He knows. We don’t need to hold back when someone has wronged us seriously. God knows.
If we approach God with an honest attitude, we will likely pray more often and openly. We will know and believe that God cares.
Key # 2 of Effective Prayer – Pray all the time
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your petitions to God.” – Philippians 4: 6
Scripture encourages believers to always pray. This means that we can and should approach God at any time of life or day. If he knows everything that is going on in our life, there will be no surprises. This also means that God can support and protect us at any time. There’s a reason God tells us not to worry. There is a reason God commands this multiple times. Fear may seem natural to us humans, but so does prayer. We just have to make an effort to make praying a habit. Then all the benefits we get from praying will become much more evident in our lives.
Effective Prayer Key # 3 – Pray with Confidence
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your petitions before God.” – Psalm 56: 3-4
We know how to pray honestly and to pray often. Once we master these two points, we can begin with a heart that trusts God completely. There was never a promise that God did not keep. When we pray with his promises we know that he will no doubt do what he says. Trusting God in our prayers takes away the burden of solving any problem. Trust in God also pays him the due respect that he deserves by recognizing him and not ourselves as God,
Effective communication between people cannot be taken for granted. First we need to know what constitutes good communication, learn the skills, then practice, practice, practice. When we communicate with Almighty God, we have the advantage of being omniscient. He knows our hearts, desires, and desires before we can form words to speak. However, this truth does not excuse us from doing our best to pray effectively.
We can approach God in a similar way as we would other people, but He is much more approachable, much wiser and much more loving. The benefits of prayer are obvious, and the Bible wants us to pray all the time. How comforting to know that we can approach God at any time and with complete transparency and trust. He wants to hear from us every day.
We already know that we should pray. Now we know how to make our prayers much more effective. Let this growth be a guide to a stronger and deeper relationship with Christ.
Photo credit: © iStock / Getty Images Plus / palidachan
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.