It is great to know that Believers in Christ are privileged to have a relaxed, childlike, conversational dialogue with God like we have with each other here on earth with our friends and family. However, there are a few notes, a few pointers that God emphasizes that should lead the Christian to a more structured prayer life.
Let us start before we even get into prayer. Matthew 7:7 says - "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you." The first step is to ask God. However, what would make this step even better is to harmonize your request with God's Word and everybody involved (call it step 1a). James 4:3 warns us of our true intentions in praying, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives." So, ask yourself some questions, check your motives then consider your thanksgivings before heading into prayer.
A grateful, thankful heart and mind is a another wonderful pre-prayer meditation to bring into your prayer life every time. It properly sets the atmosphere of the room and attitude of our heart to communicate with God. In Other Words, do not go into prayer with The Lord empty handed. Just like bringing tribute to a king, the King of Kings deserves our praise up front. In the Old Testament, God in Exodus 23:15; 34:20, and Deuteronomy 16:16 comes flat out and says - "No one is to appear before me empty-handed."
How much more should we capitalize on Paul's encouragement in the New Testament when in Hebrews 13:15 he states - "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."
Re-focusing on Matthew 7:7, seeking requires that you actively participate in the journey toward God's solution. I would venture to say that most of the time we pray, the answers don't just come to us wrapped in a bow for us to unwrap like a Christmas morning present. No. In fact we have to daily pursue God's plan for our lives or "knock" so that He will answer us like the judge answered the persistent woman in Luke 18:1-8.
Something that both you and God are going to appreciate in prayer is brevity. Matthew records Jesus saying, And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8) I should know about this I can get long-winded with the best of them. The advantage of being specific with God is He will be specific with you. Ask a specific question, receive a specific answer. This leaves no shadow of doubt that God heard you and has informed you when He responds. Ask a broad, generic question to God and don't complain when the answer does not suit your liking. Be short, to the point and specific with your words/request.
Other teachings on how we should pray, given by The Lord, are found in Matthew 6:5-6, 9-13. They include instruction not to broadcast your prayers for the sake of vanity but make prayer a more private matter.
- And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (verses 5-6)
- This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' "