How Should We Pray?

Why is it that we can talk to a friend for more than an hour, but only talk to God for a few minutes? It is because we are not using prayer correctly. When we pray, we need to talk to God like we would a friend.

God gave us prayer so we could talk and develop a relationship—a friendship—with Him. God desires to be our friend. Unfortunately, we too often turn prayer into a list of requests. We begin our prayers by thanking God, and we follow with our Santa Claus list: “Please bless Mom and bless so and so, and bless Dad, and help me, and bless my friend and help grandma and be with my neighbor, etc., etc., etc.” We make a list of things for God to do.

Imagine if we did this with our best friend: “Hey Carlos, I want to thank you for being my friend and for always being there for me. Can you give me a ride to work today and then can you pick up my shirt from the cleaners and then can you buy some dog food for my dog and then can you take my grandma to her doctor appointment and then bring her back home and then go to the bakery and buy some bread for me?” Imagine if we did this every day. How would our friend feel? They would feel used, yet that is what we do with God when we pray. We thank Him and then ask Him to help or bless a list of things or people. This is why our prayers only last a couple of minutes.

Prayer was never intended to be a list of requests or a “to do list” for God from us. Prayer is how we communicate with God, and have conversations with Him.

The next time you start to pray, try not asking God for anything. Try talking to Him. Tell Him about your day. Tell Him about your school or family. Talk to Him about your worries. Share with Him your plans for the weekend. Tell God how you are feeling, and why. Talk to Him as if he were your friend. This may be difficult at first because it’s not how you’re used to praying. But don’t give up. Keep trying. Keep talking. Keep praying. God is always listening. Pretty soon you will notice that your prayers are not just thirty seconds any more. The more you talk to God, the more you will enjoy talking to Him. “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17, NIV).