OUTREACH
   
Overview

Charismatic Prayer Meetings

What Goes On in a Prayer Meeting?

Word of Life Ministry

Heart Cards Ministry

 
   
Praising GOD is Biblical

How to Pray Effectively?

Subscribe Word of Life!

   
   
HOME


 

 

 

 


HOW TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY?
 


What does it mean to "pray effectively?" To know how to pray, we must know the meaning of the word "praying." The dictionary defines praying as addressing God, making a fervent request, beseeching and imploring. The Roget's Thesaurus defines praying as invoking, supplicating, communicating with God, worshipping, begging, adjuring and pleading. It further associates prayer with devotions, services, chapel, entreaty, supplication and petition.

The purpose of this short paper is to explain to Catholics how to pray. Greater details on specific areas may be obtained by reading other related spiritual material, by consulting your priest or by participating in group discussions during Bible studies.



First of all, when we pray to the Heavenly Father, there are guidelines that we should follow. Jesus blessed the world with a prayer that is most pleasing to the Heavenly Father, the "Lord's Prayer." Jesus said, pray then in this way:

Our Father in Heaven,
hallowed be Your Name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one. [Matt. 6:9-13]
The Lord's prayer is rich and complete in itself. It teaches us how to praise the Heavenly Father. It teaches submission to the Will of God. It shines in Divine love that is reflected by the soul's forgiveness of others and God's mercy for such a soul. It asks God for His protection against temptations.

Other ancient texts of the Bible conclude by saying:

"For the Kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen."

In this conclusion, the Lord's Prayer ends by glorifying the Almighty Father. No prayer is greater than this perfect prayer that was taught by Jesus.



WHY PRAY?

Why should we pray? There are five important reasons to do so:

  - God is the Creator and giver of all things.
  - God is worthy of prayer.
  - Prayer is the means by which the soul communicates with God.
  - Jesus taught the necessity to pray.
  - God answers prayers.
 

THE KINDS OF PRAYER

Praying comes in many forms. While some believe that praying only means to honor and love God, there is more to a prayer life. Praying may consist of any of the following methods of approaching God. They can be done privately or with others. We can combine one or some of the following ways of praying.

  • By adoring God. "O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" [Ps. 95:6]



  • By calling upon God. "Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray." [Ps. 5:2]

  • and "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" [Rom 10:11]  
     
  • By praying and singing to God. "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." [Acts 16:25]



  • By singing to God. The Blessed Virgin Mary sang the Magnificat to God. [Lk. 1:46-55]



  • By singing and playing music. "Your solemn processions are seen, O God, the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary - the singers in front, the musicians last, between them girls playing tambourines." [Ps. 68:24-5]



  • By meditating on God's ways. "I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways." [Ps. 119:15]



  • By revering God. "A God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and awesome above all that are around Him." [Ps. 89:7]



  • By glorifying God. "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork." [Ps. 19:1]



  • By thanking God for received blessings. "When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God." [Phlm. 1:4] All Christians should thank God for the blessings that some often take for granted. The Lord should be thanked for the blessing of a new day. He is the provider of clothing, food, shelter, the family, friends, employment, assets, and the list continues...



  • By worshipping God. Prayer worship is entirely different from all other forms of prayers. Its purpose is to glorify the Heavenly Father for His goodness. During this form of prayer, you do not make any requests or give thanks to the Lord for blessings that have been received. This form of prayer is strictly to praise God in recognition for His love in the world, His glory, His greatness, His power and all the titles He rightfully deserves.

  • By showing love towards others, this being prayer in action. "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common." [Acts 4:32]



  • By showing hospitality towards others, this being another form of prayer in action. "When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.'" [Acts 16:15]



  • By making supplications to God for the needs of individuals and those of the Church. "The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer." [Ps. 6:9] Supplication is synonym to appealing to God, petitioning God or requesting from God. Supplication includes two categories, asking favors from God for oneself as the petitioner and asking God for others as the intercessor.

    "Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord." [Jas. 5:14] When doing supplication to God for the needs of others, you should join your prayers with those of other Catholics. "For where two or three are gathered in the name, I am there among them." [Mt. 18:20]



  • By being devout towards God. "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there." [Acts 22:12]



  • By sharing with others. "Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." [2 Cor. 9:7]



  • By reading the Word of God daily. "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near."[Rev. 1:3]



  • By teaching the Word of God to others. "Then Philip began to speak and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed the good news about Jesus." [Acts 8:35]

All of the above reflect a life of prayer, being God minded in all things. The Christian who has God on his mind in all his action can be said to be walking in the likeness of Jesus.


HOW TO APPROACH GOD

When approaching God in prayer, it is necessary to have the right disposition. As such, one should begin by humbly confessing his sins. "Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the guilt of my sin." Ps. 32:5]


PRAYING ACCORDING TO GOD'S WILL

For a prayer to be answered, it must be in accordance to God's Will. Otherwise, you may receive what you asked for, not being happy with the end results. God has answered undesirable prayers, providing thinly for the soul. "He gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them.." [Ps. 106:15] What is most important is not the obtaining of worldly needs, but rather the spiritual needs of your soul that is eternal. As a general rule, do not ask for what you can do without. That way, you can have the assurance that if you ask according to the will of God, He will hear you. [1 Jn. 5:14]


WHEN SHOULD YOU PRAY?

The Holy Bible teaches that you should pray without ceasing, always giving thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. [1 Thes. 5:17-8]


WHERE SHOULD YOU PRAY?

The Holy Bible teaches that you should pray everywhere, lifting up your hands in holiness, without doubting or insincere thoughts. [1 Tim. 2:8]

Does praying require that you attend a church? Not necessarily. God is everywhere and there are sanctifying benefits to worshipping in different locations. When you pray in the Church, you pray in the physical presence of Jesus who is in the Holy Tabernacle. During the celebration of the Mass, you have the opportunity to receive the physical presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When you pray outside the Church, you are in the spiritual presence of Jesus who dwells within you.


HOW SHOULD YOU PRAY?

Sincere prayer is offered with a humble heart in complete obedience to God. "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." [2 Chr. 7:14]

What posture should you take when you pray? Praying on one's knees is an established Christian practice. "Then Jesus withdrew from them about stone's thrown, knelt down, and prayed." [Lk. 22:41] In the Old Testament, Nehemiah prayed before the King while standing up. [Neh. 2:4]

The posture that should be taken at the moment of prayer will vary depending on how your heart feels, how it has been called by God to pray. If you are laying in bed while preparing to retire for the night and feels a need to talk to God, you can do so while laying down. The importance of the posture is secondary in comparison to the importance of maintaining a daily communication with God, be it while taking a walk, sitting down, relaxing or reflecting upon God during work. As your relationship grows in God, the Holy Spirit will teach you, telling you what posture you should take in reverence for God's almightiness.


HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU PRAY?

"You should pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints." [Eph. 6:18]

When one has God in his heart, he uses every opportunity to pray to God in order to maintain ongoing spiritual strength. "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." [1 Chr. 16:11]

The proper number of times per day to converse with Jesus cannot be measured. This would be like asking, "How many times should I speak to my spouse during the day?" There will be moments when God will inspire you to pray (God speaking to you) and moments when God's burning love within your own heart will move you to pray on your own. Praying then becomes an ongoing sharing of love. The frequency of praying can then be compared to the amount of time spouses speak to each other during the day.

Considering the fact that not all souls have achieved this level of sanctification, the Bible provides guidelines as to how often a soul should pray. David prayed three times a day. Dan. 6:10 One Bible passage mentions praying in the morning. "O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch." [Ps. 5:3]

Another Bible passages mentions praying three times a day. "Evening and morning and at noon, I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice." [Ps. 55:17]

When prayer is only done twice a day, it is recommended that it be done in the morning and in the evening. The morning prayer is an opportunity to thank God for the new day and ask for the needs of the day. The evening prayer is an opportunity to thank God for the needs that were received during the day, taking a few moments to reflect upon the day and finally asking God for protection during the night.


FASTING

Numerous passages in the Bible teach the importance of fasting while praying. Jesus fasted while He prayed. This was to teach that there is strength that comes with fasting. It strengthens the soul and spirit to resist temptations.

Fasting may include avoiding certain foods as a sacrifice or to control disordered desires. Whenever fasting is performed, you are reminded that it should be done in privacy since this form of personal prayer should remain between God and you. One should never fast to receive attention from others.


PERSEVERANCE

When you pray to God, you must persevere in your prayers. Your perseverance reflects the importance of what your heart desires from God. It should never be assumed that God does not hear your prayer because He does. In fact, God has been known at times to provide something before the person even had the opportunity to ask for it. Also, God hears the request while it is being asked. [Is. 65:24]


QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN ASKING GOD FOR SOMETHING

1. Will this answered prayer glorify God if obtained?

2. Will this answered prayer lead to my sanctification?

3. Will others be hurt by this answered prayer?

4. Will I be mastered by this answered prayer? Will the answered prayer master the soul such as when winning a million dollar and becoming under the control of money?

5. Do I really need this answered prayer?

6. Can I do without this answered prayer?

If you can answer "YES" to # 1, 2, 5 and answer "NO" to # 3, 4, 6, then you should persevere with your request until God answers the prayer.


THE FULLNESS OF THE PRAYER LIFE

First, by the grace of God, you receive the Word "of" God. God speaks to you in your heart.

Secondly, you walk "with" God. You converse daily with God in the same way that you would maintain a conversation with another person.

Thirdly, you walk "for" God. This involves sharing with others the joy that you have found in Jesus for the glory of God.

These three actions represent the fullness of the prayer life. You receive God's love through the Word. You grow in love through your conversation with God. And you flourish by sharing the Word of God with others.


PRAYER HINDRANCES

Some asks why prayers are not answered although perseverance has been present. There are many obstacles to overcome when praying.

  • Prayers asked without faith are not answered. "But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. " [Jas. 1:6-7]

  • Before asking God for a blessing, you must have forgiven others. "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses." [Mk. 11:25]

  • If there is any form of iniquity in your heart, the requested prayer will not be granted. "If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." [Ps. 66:18]

  • When a requested prayer is made with the wrong motive, it will not be answered. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures." You should make requests for things that will glorify God, increase your holiness and not injure someone else.

  • The words that come from your mouth during prayer must be sincere, coming from the heart. "Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few." [Ecc. 5:2]

  • When it is said that the words should be few, this is not meant to imply that God does not have time to hear your prayers. Rather, it means that the words should have meanings, having being considered before they are said. Repetition of the same words over and over is viewed as having no purpose. These are not personal words from the heart. "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words." [Mt. 6:7]

  • If the commandments of God are not kept, God will not answer your prayer. If you cannot show your love towards God by obeying His commandments, God may withhold His love by denying answered prayers. "Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we obey His commandments and do what pleases Him." [1 Jn. 3:21-2]


SUMMARIZING EFFECTIVE PRAYING

  1. Have a righteous heart. Obey God's commandments. Forgive your enemies and ask to be forgiven of your trespasses. Receive the Church Sacrament of Reconciliation.



  2. Receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to embellish your soul before the eyes of God.


  3. Humble yourself before God. Approach God in a pious manner.


  4. Praise God for all He has done, His creation, your life, all the goodness around you.


  5. Thank God for answered prayers and all the other good things you enjoy.


  6. Pray for others before you pray for yourself.


  7. Last of all, ask God for your needs according to His Divine will. Thank Him for his decision, whatever it may be.


CONCLUSION

By following these basic steps, you should grow in your spiritual life. Accordingly, you will begin to see the hand of God at work in your life. You will see some prayers answered according to your spiritual needs as God determines what is best for you.


May the Holy Spirit guide you from here on in your spiritual growth in the Most Holy Name of Jesus for the glory of the Heavenly Father.


 

 

Copyright 2005-2008, The Burning Bush, Singapore