How to Teach Someone to Pray

Teaching someone to pray isn’t the same as coaching my kid’s soccer team where I can tell the kids to run over there, stay in-between the lines, pass the ball this way, and follow these rules. Sure, there are some helpful tips to improve your prayer life, but it’s not like God is concerned about our technique, and making sure we are saying the right words!

Teaching on prayer is interesting, because I personally pray differently than I did 10 years ago, and I expect I will pray differently 10 years from now. And I know I pray differently than my wife prays or many of you might pray. I’m assuming God doesn’t look at us and think to Himself, “those guys keep doing it wrong!”

It seems to me that prayer is a process that is molding and shaping me. It’s about a relationship, which means it’s going to look different from person to person, and it’s going to look different with time and as the relationship grows.

Teaching about prayer to me feels like I’m teaching someone how to fall in love. You don’t really teach about love as much as one needs to experience love.

Over 18 years ago, when Liz and I met I did all sorts of things to pursue her. We texted and emailed each other a hundred times a day, we used to go to the movies all the time, we were young and we sought out experiences together. It was a really important time in our relationship. But our relationship now looks very different. Connection, intimacy, vulnerability, the fun that we have…look very different now than they did 18 years ago.

Through both joyful and challenging times, we have learned to trust one another, practice forgiveness, and have been blessed with unexpected surprises. These moments and experiences have molded our relationship into one that is characterized by depth, intimacy and a love that is difficult to put into words. However, it is important to acknowledge that this journey began on an awkward and uncomfortable blind date where we struggled to find common ground.

It has also only been possible because in the hard times, in the annoying times, in the angry and frustrating times, we have committed to turn towards each other, to talk it out, to listen to one another, and to try to understand.

And so, while love, like prayer, is difficult to teach, a starting point and foundational piece of prayer is just starting, going for it, and then sticking with it. And then when you do, it is believing and living out these following scriptures:

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:12-13.)
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10.)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matt 6:33.)

As we study the Scriptures, we see that the starting point of prayer is that we seek God. Just like with love, you have to start somewhere. And as you continue to seek God, you will find Him, and with time, experiences, and trust, you will grow into a relationship with depth, intimacy, and love that is hard to explain.

This coming Sunday we will be starting off our New Year with a call to prayer. I hope you will make the time and effort to join us.