Prayer Guide
An Introduction to prayer




















Your God Direction:
Starting point: Where you are

Destination: Connection to God

Direction: Go through the On Your Knees Valley by way of the Stillness Pathway. Walk up the Stairway to Heaven and across the Will of God Bridge. There you will find Connection to God.

It sounds easy, if only. It is a journey of a life time. I didn’t mention the valley of trials and tribulation and oh yes the mountain range of struggles that seem to go on and on. You think you have reached the end but there is more. This is the journey called Life. But you’re in luck, to reach the destination Connection to God there is a short cut. This doesn’t mean you will bypass the mountain range of struggles but it will equip you with the right gear to pass through them. Where is this “short cut?” Take the road less traveled. This is a road that is hard to see. It is often missed by those who are quickly passing by. All you need to do is slow down. This small path way is in the On Your Knees Valley and along the Stillness Pathway. It is the Trail of Prayer.

When I say Prayer what comes to mind? Many will say the Lord’s Prayer or maybe they will think of praying for help and still others will say I don’t know how to pray. Prayer is intimidating for many because we are approaching God and what if we say something wrong. Along that thinking is the fear of God because of our sinfulness no matter how big or small. This fear is common and we need a healthy respect for God but it isn’t a good excuse not to pray.

This leads to the question what is prayer? Webster offers a general definition. Prayer is the spiritual communion with God. Other definitions include a devout petition to God including supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, and or confession. The Bible is full of prayer; in fact the entire Book of Psalms is a book of prayer. But the idea of prayer in the Bible is assumed that we all know how to pray. There are few instructions as to the proper way to pray. We are instructed by Jesus to pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13). Jesus introduces the prayer by saying:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:5-8)1

The question should be asked if God already knows what we need why do we need to pray? The answer: because prayer is not about the proper words, it is about a relationship with God. As Jesus says about the Sabbath

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”1 (Mark 2:27-28)

This can also be applied to Prayer. God doesn’t need us to pray but we need to pray to God. The need to have a personal relationship with God was built in us by God at the time of Creation. Before the fall God walked with Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:8) But sin separated man from God. We need a personal relationship with God in order to lead a fulfilling life. Without it we are empty and we continually try to fill that void with something. Prayer is one way we fill that void.

There are many forms and levels of prayer. In the Book Armchair Mystic, Mark E. Thibodeaux makes the point that prayer can be split in four levels: 1) talking at God, 2) talking to God, 3) listening to God, and 4) being with God. Each level builds upon the other but each level does not replace the previous ones.

The first level is like teaching a child good manners. You tell them to say thank you and please. They repeat what you say but they don’t mean it or understand what they are doing at first. Talking at God is reading a prayer or saying memorized prayer without really thinking about and/or understanding what you’re praying. This is the simplest form of prayer and is important. This level is used to get kids or people new or young in faith to pray. It is your first connection with God. Like any good relationship, you start with the pleasantries, Hello, how are you, the weather is great, in other words small talk. Like when you pass someone along the side walk you say “How are you” not really wanting an answer, it is just pleasantries to acknowledge someone. Talking at God is acknowledging He is there and listening.

Then we usually move to the next level, talking to God. This is when we acknowledge God is not only listening but can and will answer our prayer. For example, we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness knowing God will forgive us. We ask for help in doing things or we pray for someone who is sick. We acknowledge God can and does answer prayer. But this is often the level we stop at. We ask the questions but we don’t listen for the answers. If we stop at this level we only have a one-sided relationship with God.

The third level, listening to God, is when we acknowledge God is active in our personal life. We understand that God has purpose for me, the individual, that he can and will guide us, give us direction in our daily life.

The forth level, being with God, is the time in our relationship in which we no longer need actions to prove the relationship. We can sit in stillness and be satisfied with just being with God. It is that deep connection that you have when words and actions are no longer necessary to enjoy being with Him.

If you have never prayed before that is ok, now is your chance to learn and develop the habit. If you don’t pray daily now’s the chance to pray daily. If you already have a daily habit of prayer now is the opportunity to pray more deeply. Prayer is not something that comes easy. It is a discipline that requires sacrifice and a conscious decision. It will at times seem like work but the rewards far out way the sacrifice though at times you may not recognize it.
1The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.)Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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