Prayer written on a paper kept on the ground

How to Pray

The Church tells us we must pray. Our friends tell us we must pray. The saints and the Scriptures tell us we must pray. Every believer wants to pray. We just don’t always know how to pray. Don’t feel bad. Some of the earliest followers of Christ had the same problem.

At that time, Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.'” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Luke 11.1-10

The answer to the question of how to pray isn’t always what we modern Christians think. We are told that prayer is conversation with God. It is. We are told that we only need to share our feelings with Him ‘in prayer’ and He will listen. He will. But, when Christ was asked to teach them how to pray, He didn’t talk about conversation and feelings. He taught them the words to use.

Many people today think that ‘good prayer’ is the sort of prayer that ‘comes from the heart’ spontaneously. You can tell because when people pray in groups, the prayer sounds random and without any thought. This is not what Christ taught.

The early followers of Christ had a prayer book. The Book of Psalms is a book of prayer. From the earliest time the people of God would gather and pray the Psalms. Christ did this Himself. While He was on the Cross, He prayed “My God, My God why have Your forsaken Me.” (Psalm 21/22)

A popular morning prayer in the Orthodox Church, written by Saint Philaret the Metropolitan of Moscow in the 19th Century ends with the words, “Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.”

It is prideful and dangerous to think we know better than those who have come before us. When we ‘pray for our heart’ we tend to pray for things that we either do not need, or what we think God wants to hear. Neither should be our goal in prayer. With our fallen ego, spontaneous prayer ‘tends’ to be selfish rather than focused on God.

Yes, we have needs. Our needs are rarely what we think they are. If we pray the Lord’s Prayer and those prayers given to us by our spiritual father in the prayers of the Church, we will have a better chance to ‘pray for’ what we really need. We need God’s forgiveness and mercy and love.

How should we pray? Step one, make an appointment with your spiritual father to discuss a ‘prayer rule’ designed for your spiritual growth. Step two, be obedient to your spiritual father.


3 Comments

  1. Gregory M on October 25, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    Father, because of the abundance of deception and misinformation in our world today…I must ask the following question:

    What was our Lord Jesus’ real name?
    Yeshua?
    Yeshua HaMashiach?
    Or something else?

    More than wanting to be “Correct”, I desire to be respectful.

    • Be Transfigured Ministries on October 26, 2023 at 8:34 am

      The Gospel calls Him Jesus (in English) Ιησούς in Greek which is a transliteration of Joshua/Yeshua in Hebrew

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