Prayer is an important part of many people’s spiritual lives. It allows us to connect with God, give thanks, ask for guidance, and request blessings. While prayer can be spontaneous, taking some time to prepare our hearts and minds can help deepen the experience.
Examine your conscience
Before praying, it can be helpful to take a few minutes for an examination of conscience. This means reviewing your thoughts, words, and actions since your last prayer time. Consider times you may have fallen short, missed opportunities to serve, or neglected your relationship with God. Don’t beat yourself up, but acknowledge shortcomings and ask God for forgiveness and the grace to do better.
Set your intention
Set an intention for your prayer time. This might be adoration, giving thanks, asking for guidance on a decision, praying for others, or simply opening your heart to God. Setting an intention can help focus your thoughts and make your prayer more meaningful.
Find a quiet space
Do your best to find a quiet, distraction-free place to pray. This might be a church, chapel, quiet corner, or spot in nature. If you can’t find an ideal spot, try to limit distractions and turn your focus inward.
Get physically comfortable before you begin praying. This might mean kneeling, bowing, standing, sitting, or lying down. Choose whatever posture helps you focus and connects you to God.
Open your heart
Open your heart to God. Put aside any anger, fear, anxiety, or distractions you may be carrying. Offer God your honest emotions. Renew your spirit of humility, trust, and gratitude.
Invoke the Holy Spirit
Invoking the Holy Spirit as you begin praying invites God into the experience and asks the Spirit to guide your heart and mind. Even just praying, “Come Holy Spirit” can help center you in God’s presence.
Praise and thank God
Start your prayer with praise and thanksgiving for God. Thank Him for the blessings in your life – your health, loved ones, provisions. Praise Him for His goodness, mercy, and love for you.
Read inspirational verses
Reading a few encouraging Bible verses can help focus your mind on God’s truth. Choose verses about God’s love, promises, or character. Or read psalms of praise and trust in God.
Forgiving others before praying clears your heart of bitterness and makes room for God’s grace. Even if you can’t forget major offenses, making an effort to forgive will free you spiritually.
Have an attitude of gratitude
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude helps us recognize just how much God has blessed our lives. Make thankfulness for both big and small gifts from God part of your daily prayers.
Come willing to listen
Come to your prayer time willing to listen to God’s voice and promptings. Be open to the subtle impressions He may make on your heart as you pray.
Avoid consumerist prayer
Prayer is not meant to be a time of merely listing requests or presenting God with a shopping list of desires. While it’s fine to pray for things for yourself or others, focus first on relationship over requests.
Let God’s word inspire your prayers. Choose verses to pray or reflect on how passages illuminate your current needs. The Holy Spirit can use scripture to guide your prayer time.
Have expectant faith
Pray with expectant faith, believing God hears you and can respond. Avoid just going through habitual motions. Pray with trust in God’s power and will.
For deep concerns, pray persistently over days or weeks if needed. Just as we cultivate relationships by spending time together regularly, our relationship with God grows through consistent prayer.
Visualize God’s presence
Imagining sitting with Jesus or walking with God can help you feel His presence during prayer. Picture where you meet and the expressions on His face.
Use prayer tools
Items like prayer beads, candles, and sacred images can engage your senses and focus your mind for prayer. Use whatever helps direct your thoughts to God.
Pray with a friend
Praying with another person can be powerful. When gathering to pray as a couple, family, or group, start by preparing your hearts together in a few minutes of silence.
Recited prayers like the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and rosary can keep us grounded in the faith. But balance pre-composed prayers with speaking to God spontaneously from your heart.
Journal your reflections
Writing down thoughts, feelings, and inspirations during or after prayer can help you process the experience. Journaling clarifies insights received.
Sing hymns of praise
Singing spiritual songs creates space to worship God through music. Let melodies lift your praise, gratitude, and petitions to Him.
Meditate on God’s names
Contemplating the many names for God like Comforter, Shepherd, Rock, and Fortress can expand your understanding of His qualities and provision.
Give God your full attention
Entering prayer fully attentive may mean putting aside your phone, turning off the TV, closing your eyes, or centering your thoughts on God. Minimize distractions.
Confess your sins
Honestly confessing your sins to God is cleansing for the soul. Unburden your heart so you can be fully open to God’s presence in prayer.
Spend time in silence
Being still and silent before God for even just a few minutes can nurture intimacy with Him. Let go of talking to listen to God’s Spirit.
Pray with variety
Varying your prayer postures, locations, times, and methods keeps prayer fresh. Let prayer be an evolving conversation with God, not just monologue.
Fasting for a period before prayer can help deepen your focus and create space to meet with God. Drink water, but skip a meal or activity.
Pray for others
Praying for the needs and blessings of others gets our focus off ourselves. Interceding for friends, leaders, strangers, and ministries pleases God.
Pray through Scripture
Meditating on Bible verses line by line and making each phrase personal allows God to speak through His word. This transforms verse to prayer.
Keep a prayer list
Listing people and intentions you regularly pray for helps ensure you cover meaningful topics. Review your list before each prayer session.
Allow changes of plans
Stay open to God shifting the focus of your prayer time. Follow His lead if He presses a different direction than you intended.
Pray for government leaders
Praying for those in authority over us, even if we disagree with them, is wise and biblical. Ask God to guide their leadership.
Pray through art
Engaging in visual art, dance, or playing music with awareness of God’s presence activates creative ways of connecting with Him.
Go for a prayer walk
Combining prayer with a walk instantly shifts your perspective. Let creation inspire awe and remind you of God’s majesty.
Kneel in humility
Kneeling positions us with humility before our Creator. Bending our knees focuses the body in line with the humble heart attitude God desires.
Lay down your cares
Symbolically lay your worries and heavy burdens before God, surrendering them to Him. Visualize giving Him your anxiety and stress.
Confess Christ’s Lordship
Affirming Jesus as Lord recenters us on His sacrifice for our salvation and grace. Proclaiming His authority focuses our prayers.
Claim God’s promises
Reminding God in prayer of His promises reassures us of His faithfulness. When we struggle, claim truths like “Never will I leave you.”
Ask the Holy Spirit for help
Since we do not know how to pray well on our own, sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Yield to His leading and prompting.
Pray with upraised hands
Raising open hands to God is a biblical posture showing receptivity, surrender, and engagement with Him. Your body mirrors your spirit.
Take a prayer retreat
Stepping away for a half-day or more on a prayer retreat frees you from routine distractions. Create space to seek God.
Pray for spiritual growth
Asking God to develop spiritual fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control invites His sanctifying work.
Cast your cares on God
Release anxious thoughts and concerns to God, trusting Him with situations beyond your control. Exchange worry for His peace.
Pray through colors
Using a rainbow as a guide, pray through the colors, allowing each to spark unique prayers of gratitude, joy, intercession, or lament.
Follow biblical models
Studying and emulating prayers in the Bible like the Lord’s Prayer, David’s psalms, and Paul’s letters shapes our own prayers.
Prayers That Are Lined Up With Scripture
Here are some sample prayers aligned with biblical truths:
“Father, thank you for your amazing love and grace. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for your Word which guides my steps. Help me walk more closely with you each day.” (Psalm 107:1)
“Lord, you promise to provide all I need. Today I claim your promise over my situation. I look to you as my source, trusting that you will care for me. Help me seek you first.” (Matthew 6:33)
“Lord, your Word says by your stripes I am healed. I ask you now to bring healing in my body, mind, soul, and relationships. Restore me to full health. Renew my strength.” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)
“God, you have promised to guide me and lead me along right paths. I turn to you for direction in this decision I’m facing. Make your will clear. Give me discernment.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Lord, I believe in you, but help me overcome my unbelief! Increase my faith. Help me trust you more fully. Remind me of your goodness and power.” (Mark 9:24)
Aligning our prayers with scriptural truth and promises from God builds our faith as we are reminded of His character and past faithfulness.
Avoid Selfish Motives
|Selfish Motive||Better Motive|
|Praying for fame||Praying to glorify God|
|Praying for revenge||Praying for justice|
|Praying for selfish gain||Praying for provision for others|
Checking our motives keeps our prayers centered on loving God and people, rather than pursuing selfish ends.
Avoid Presumption and Pridefulness
Avoid praying with arrogance or entitlement, as if we can bend God’s will to our own purposes. Pray humbly, seeking God’s desires.
Preparing our hearts rightly positions us to commune with God in prayer. Seeking Him first, confessing sins, forgiving others, centering our thoughts on Him, and surrendering self-interest helps prayer become a humble offering of love and devotion to our Creator.