Bible Verses on How to Pray

Bible Verses on How to Pray

How do You Pray?

With your eyes closed or open? With your hands clenched so tightly that your knuckles show white? Do you pray long prayers? Short prayers? Rushed-through, breathy prayers?

Are you calm when you pray? Or is it more an outflow of anxiety?

Do you pray to get some sway with the big guy upstairs? To send a ‘letter to Santa’ kind of prayer? Or to build a relationship with Him?

In the last post (which you can find here) we talked about why, even if you’re not into religious ritual, it’s still worth praying. In this post we’re going to talk about how to pray – by looking at Bible verses.


Why Should We Listen to Bible Verses on How to Pray?


Praying is a spiritual discipline. As with any discipline – like say, learning to play the piano – we need some pointers to know how to get better at it.

That’s not to say that God requires you to do or say certain things to approach Him in prayer. If there’s one thing we see about Jesus from the Gospels it’s that He is extremely approachable. Though He was God, little children weren’t afraid of Jesus. Instead, they liked to be around Him and so did the outcasts of society – people such as tax collectors and prostitutes who ‘religious types’ of His day shunned.

So, we should definitely get out of our heads that God is going to measure us on our praying techniques. If for example, you’ve only got three seconds to pray as you dodge a bus hurtling towards you – God isn’t about to mark your request with a big red ‘denied’ stamp for not following the correct prayer format.

That being said,  the way we usually pray can be an indication of where our heart is in our relationship with God – which Jesus demonstrated He is very concerned about.

And the reverse is also true.

By praying according to the Bible, we can cultivate our hearts in the areas it isn’t quite right in our relationship with God.

So let’s begin. As we go through the Bible verses on how to pray I’m going to try and answer three questions:

  • What practical advice can we find in these Bible verses on how to pray?
  • Does this verse show us something about how our heart should be when we approach God?
  • What does this verse say about the kind of relationship God hopes to form with us through prayer?

#1 Bible Verses on How to Pray: Matthew 6:6.


Bible verses on how to pray #1: Matthew 6:6.

Practical advice:

Make a habit of praying in private. Sure, it’s good to pray with other Christians, but make sure you’re getting enough alone time with God.

Heart Implications:

If the usual place for you to pray is in public – that suggests that you’re doing it out of social pressure or to look good. This shouldn’t be your motivation.

The Relationship God wants with us:

God wants a genuine personal relationship with us. He doesn’t want a relationship based on you showing off what great terms you’re on with God in front of all your church-going friends and then forgetting about Him until next Sunday.


#2 Bible Verses on How to Pray: Matthew 6:7.


Bible verses on how to pray: Matthew 6:7.

Practical advice:

If your prayers are full of a lot of fancy words that sound good but you don’t really mean … or if you repeat words you’ve been told to say mechanically, then something’s gone wrong.

Heart Implications:

God wants us to mean what we pray. For God, substance is more important than style – or quantity.

The Relationship God wants with us:

God wants a relationship where you’re transparent with Him and honest. He doesn’t want to hear you say things you don’t really mean.


#3 Bible Verses on How to Pray: James 4:3.


Bible verses on how to pray #3: James 4:3.

Practical Advice:

Don’t always expect God to answer your prayer exactly the way you want.

Heart Implications:

As already discussed, a big part of prayer is about training your heart motivations. If you ask something for a bad reason (e.g. you’re jealous of a friend and want God to help you one-up them) then He isn’t going to encourage that dangerous tendency. He loves you too much for that.

The Relationship God Wants With Us:

Jesus described His father as a ‘vinedresser’ (John 15:1). He wants to help us be the best version of ourselves that we can be. That means that like a gardener with any kind of fruit plant, He will remove ‘every branch’ in you that doesn’t bear fruit and ‘prune’ the branches that do bear fruit so that they can produce even more fruit.

In other words, He wants to stop you from growing in areas that are damaging to you. He wants to encourage you to grow where He can already see good things forming.

One of the ways He does this is through encouraging certain kinds of motivations in prayer, and not others.


#4 Bible Verses on How to Pray: Romans 8:26.


Practical Advice:

God understands what we need – even if we mess up asking for it.

Heart Implications:

Do you ever find yourself in a situation so fraught with emotion that you can’t find the words to express it all when you pray? Does that make you worry that God might get the wrong idea as a result?

Do you ever find yourself so confused by something that happened that you honestly don’t know what to ask for to fix it?

The Holy Spirit’s got you covered. He can translate those incoherent groans or cries for help so that we receive what we may not even have known we needed.

The Relationship God Wants With Us:

God wants us to be secure in the knowledge that He knows us better than anyone. He listens to our prayers and can read into them more deeply than even we can.

Feel free to pray away even if you feel like you’re not getting at exactly what you want to say – God knows what you mean.


Verses from the Lord’s Prayer


Here we’ll take a look at the verses from the model prayer Jesus gave His followers – the Lord’s prayer. There’s so much to take away from this prayer about what a healthy prayer structure can look like and what you should try to include when you pray.


#1 The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9.


‘Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name …

Matthew 6:9.

Practical advice:

Start off your prayers by praising God and putting your focus on Him. Don’t just dive into talking about yourself and the problems you want Him to fix.

Heart Implications:

We all have one of those friends who, when you meet up with them for coffee, goes straight into talking all about themselves and seems to forget that you might have things going on too. It’s kind of self-absorbed to do that with your friends and it’s even more self-absorbed when you do that with God.

By praising and acknowledging how great God is before getting into what you want from Him, you’re training your heart not to be so focused on yourself.

The Relationship God wants with us:

When you pray, you’re not forming a relationship with somebody who is an equal (He is God after all!). So it necessarily has to be a God-centered relationship not a me-centered relationship. Starting your prayers by praising God can remind you of that.


#2 The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:10.


… Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10.

Practical Advice:

When you pray, make sure you express that you want God’s will to come first – even if it means not getting the thing you ask for.

Heart Implications:

As important as any prayer request you might have for Him may seem to you – God knows best. Our hearts often want things that aren’t good for us. It’s important to reconcile ourselves to the fact that God may not fulfil our heart’s longings, for the best of reasons.

The Relationship God wants with us:

If you picture your relationship with God as one where you give Him a list of demands and He quietly and efficiently fulfils them – then you’ve got another thing coming. God figures as a ‘father’ in the Bible. How many fathers do you know who give everything their children ask for? That would be crazy! It would probably result in children who ate way too many sweets, too few vegetables, never got any studying done and had super unhealthy sleeping habits.

If He knows that you need something then sure, He’ll give it to you – like any good father. But He can also see the bigger picture and so He’s not about to do whatever we ask if He knows it will all go horribly wrong.


#3 The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:11.


… Give us this day our daily bread.

Matthew 6: 11.

Practical Advice:

Don’t get too ahead of yourself when asking for what you want. Just ask for what you need today.

Heart Implications:

Jesus taught that worrying isn’t good for our emotional well-being. Jesus said: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Don’t start worrying about things too far down the line. That only leads you to imagining things that may never happen and are all in God’s hands anyway.

The Relationship God Wants With Us:

God wants to build a trust relationship. We need to trust Him with our futures. Letting our thoughts race to months or years ahead is the opposite of trusting Him.


#4 The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:12.


… and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 6: 12.

Practical Advice:

Got anything you’re feeling guilty about? Got any grudges you’re still holding onto? Now’s the time to say sorry and forgive in prayer.

Heart Implications:

A bad conscience and grudges are heavy things to carry around on your heart. Praying is a great way to relieve yourself of those.

Through prayer you can release the guilt of what you’ve done wrong and trust that Jesus’ blood has paid the price.

You can also trust God to recompense all the anger and resentment you feel when it comes to bad things people have done against you – knowing that He will show Grace and justice in perfect proportions.

The Relationship God Wants With Us:

God has washed away the guilt of our sins through the death of His son Jesus. There should now be no sense of guilt keeping us from having a relationship with Him. That thing you feel ashamed of  – He’s already forgiven it. There’s no reason to shy away.

That being said, He wants us to be similarly loving and forgiving to others.


#5 The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:13.


… And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 7:13.

Practical Advice:

Draw on God for the strength and guidance you need for the problems ahead.

Heart Implications:

Are you trying to rely on your own strength to get through the challenges ahead? There’s no way you can do it on your own without falling into trouble, and besides … why would you want to? Praying for help can keep your heart from getting either too proudly self-reliant or too despairing when faced with seemingly impossible challenges.

The Relationship God Wants With Us:

God wants to come along with us through all the ups and downs we face. He wants to be invited into all our messy situations and guide us along a safe path.


Prompts for thought:


What does the way you pray say about your relationship with God?

Are you a little too wrapped up in your own concerns and haven’t put enough time into focusing on God?

Do you trust God? Or do you worry so much that you end up asking God for things for months down the line?

What are your motivations for asking for things from God? Are they motivations God is likely to want to encourage?


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