Prayer is extremely important in the life of a Christian, but many people never learned how to pray effectively. The rote memorization of prayers we may have learned as children is simply the repetition of empty words. True prayer is a conversation with God, and it doesn’t necessarily fit into a pre-defined mold. When we are praying, remembering all the good things He has done and continues to do infuses a thankful, grateful attitude into our prayers.
It’s easy to focus on all the bad things happening around us, but that way of thinking isn’t uplifting or beneficial to our frame of mind. It may take some effort on our part initially, but we can reject negative thoughts that try to invade our minds and welcome positive thoughts. “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]” (Philippians 4:8, AMPC). As believers, we have the authority as gatekeepers to allow only thoughts that agree with the Word of God to reside in our minds.
This way of thinking empowers our prayer life. We may remember our parents telling us as children, “Count your blessings.” We need to do just that when we go to God in prayer. When we reflect long enough on all the good things God is responsible for in our lives and all the ways He blesses us, we feel our spirits wanting to thank Him. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7, NKJV).
When we’re in God’s presence, we’ll feel it. All anxiety and worry disappears, and all that’s left is His peace. We can be ourselves in His presence, and there are no limits on what we can pray about. As our heavenly Father, He always welcomes an opportunity to hear from His children.
Sometimes we feel led to pray about particular individuals or certain circumstances. This is a prompting from the Holy Spirit that goes beyond our intellectual understanding, because it comes directly from the mind of God. When we feel the need to pray but we can’t think of the right words, we can depend on the Spirit to pray the perfect prayer for us. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26, 27, NKJV).
God loves to get involved in every aspect of our lives, and He takes great delight in blessing us. We don’t have to look very far to see His goodness. “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psalm 126:3). Prayer that’s pleasing to Him not only asks Him for things, but also thanks Him for what He does.