Have you ever wanted something so much that you prayed and prayed like a child pleading to a parent for a new toy? I know I have. Being raised as a Catholic, I was taught to pray early on in life. I attended Catholic grade school where every school day began with prayer and the pledge of allegiance. Oddly, I don’t recall being taught the components of effective prayer. We simply memorized prayers and repeated them daily.
Like most who were alive at that time, I remember with great clarity the day President Kennedy was assassinated. One of the older boys came into the classroom and whispered the news to Sister Mary Terence. The boy left, and Sister Terrence immediately had us on our knees praying. I remember thinking to myself, “What am I praying for?” I found this to be very confusing.
A few years ago, I read one of Gregg Braden’s books, The Isaiah Effect, Decoding the Lost Science of Prayer and Prophecy, and it gave me an entirely new perspective on prayer. I was astonished, that for most of my life, I was praying incorrectly. I highly recommend reading this powerful book, though you don’t have to read it to learn how to start praying effectively right now. Here’s what you should know.
When there is a sense of urgency, it is either caused by fear of the unknown or a perceived lack of control – sometimes both. If prayer is to be an effective way to address your fears and concerns, your prayers must be powerful in their intention and clear in their delivery. To achieve that, your prayer must be more than mere words repeated endlessly.
Prayer is defined as spiritual communication with a divine supreme being. Sometimes that being is God, and sometimes it’s a saint, Jesus, Buddha, etc. Regardless of how you direct your prayer, there are a few necessary elements to making it more effective.
- Prayers should be specific, with the emphasis on the outcome you desire. Have you ever heard the expression, “Watch what you ask for, you just might get it”? Be very specific when you pray.
- While focused on the desired outcome, visualize it as if it has already occurred.
- Prayers must come from the heart and have “feeling” – raw, emotional feeling. And that feeling should be one of gratitude, faith, or another positive emotion.
- All prayers should include a statement of gratitude for blessings, gifts, or otherwise, already received. And yes, there is always plenty to be grateful for if you look.
- Prayer works best when it comes from a position of confidence that the prayer will be answered. The person praying must feel worthy of receiving their request.
- Prayers should end with “Amen” or similar conclusive language. Amen means, “and so it is.” It’s a beautiful and positive way to wrap up a prayer.
If you are praying and suddenly realize that you have forgotten what you just said, chances are you are just repeating words. There is no power behind your prayer if you are only repeating words.
It is not necessary to be in a church or synagogue to pray effectively. You can pray anywhere, from the comfort of your own home to outside amongst the beauty of nature. You may be alone or with others while you pray, and may pray standing, kneeling, lying down or whatever makes you comfortable. There are countless ways to pray. You can pray silently or by speaking out loud, singing, or dancing. You can be in physical gatherings or spiritual groups (world-wide prayer sessions). A prayer can be a conversation (albeit one way) or you can read a prayer. You can even write your own prayer. There are no limits on how to pray so long as you follow the basic guidelines above.
Only one prayer is necessary as long as it is sincere and has clear intent. Once you have prayed, be sure to watch for answers! Don’t be surprised if your prayers are met in mysterious ways. Remember, you are praying for an outcome. How that happens is not up to you. Whenever necessary, be sure to promise to do your part. God helps those who help themselves. If you’re praying for a job so that you can feed your family, be sure to go job hunting and stay active. If you’re praying for recovery from a chronic condition, be sure to do everything you can to promote your recovery. There are many articles on my site to help you with self-care.
You are greater and more powerful than you realize!
“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathens do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”Matthew 6:7