Prayer isn’t a magical formula for getting what we want, and it isn’t reserved for ‘holy’ people, or for special times or places. 

Prayer is talking to God. 

Christians believe that God created everyone to be in relationship with him, and that he loves to hear from each one of us as often as possible. Just like you might talk to a close family member, so we have the privilege of talking to God. You don’t even need to be a Christian. God has made himself known to many who have reached out to him with an open heart.

In the Bible book Psalms, the writer says, ‘You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.’ (The Message Bible). If God knows what we are going to say, then why say it at all? 

‘You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.’

There are several reasons why we might pray. These can include thanking God for what he has given us, praising God for who he is, asking God for help or telling him that we’re sorry and asking for forgiveness. Or we might simply want to tell God what’s on our hearts. 

In the Bible book Philippians, the writer Paul encourages us to ‘Let your requests be made known to God’. And Jesus himself prayed often. As followers of Jesus, Christians also believe it is important to pray often.

There is no set way to pray. But we can look to Jesus for helpful clues. Jesus often took himself away to a quiet place to pray. Many people find it helpful at times to go to a church or room on their own, or to take a walk. Some like to look at a picture of Jesus, or to light a candle. Others close their eyes or put their hands together to remove themselves from any distractions. 

‘For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’

Some people prefer to pray formal pre-written prayers, of which there are many. Prayers, such as The Lord’s Prayer, are used in our services and also special ceremonies such as baptism, weddings, funerals and the sharing of bread and wine.

What we do know is that God does hear our prayers. In the Bible book of John 1 we are told, ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.’

So we can approach God with confidence, knowing that he is our Father who loves to hear from us. In the book of Matthew Jesus put it this way, ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’

There is no set formula for prayer. You can use whatever words you want. You cannot get it wrong. So, who ever you are, and however you pray God will hear you.

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