Nearly every religion has some form of prayer. But, for the Christian, who we pray to, how we pray, why we pray, and what we pray for is unique. In God becoming a person on the earth, Jesus models for us perfect prayer. In John 17, the entire chapter is the transcript of the longest recorded prayer that we have from Jesus that is not recorded anywhere else in the Bible.
To help you understand Christian prayer, the following 8 prayer principles summarizing the Bible’s teaching about prayer might be of assistance:
- Prayer can be old or new. Old prayers are when we pray the Scriptures, the prayer of another godly person, or a prayer that we have prayed in the past and return to now and then.
- Prayer can be aloud or silent. Since God knows your thoughts, even if you are praying silently (e.g. on the job, or while taking a test at school), God is listening.
- Prayer can be written or verbal. Prayer in written form can include things like journaling or keeping a prayer diary where you make note of answered prayers. Prayer in verbal form can be you talking to God aloud in a conversational tone or singing to God alone or with other Christians.
- Prayer can be in words or songs. Some people talk to God with words of prose. Some people talk to God with words of poetry.
- Can be speaking or listening. Like any relationship, it is important to learn both to communicate and also listen in your relationship with God. Prayer includes both speaking to God and listening to God.
- Can be short or long. Short prayers sometimes are the best, like crying out “help” when we are in over our head. Long prayers can be helpful to help us verbally process something, unburden, or save us from gossiping to others when we need to talk something out.
- Can be public or private. Public prayer can be over a meal in public, in church, during a Bible study, as a family, with friends, or simply placing a hand on someone’s shoulder who is hurting and interceding for them in love. Private prayer can be done anytime and anywhere you are alone with God.
- Can be alone or in a group. Because you have a personal relationship with God, it is good to talk to God alone. Because a Christian is adopted into a family, it is good to have personal relationships with others who also have a personal relationship with God.
Which of these do you think you are strongest at having made spiritual progress? Which of these do you think you are weakest and could grow in learning?