“The Lord sees the good people and listens to their prayers” (1 Peter 3:12).
Recently I received an email from a new Christian. She had read my devotional on the elements of effective prayer and asked an interesting question: “What words would I use?”
I have given that some thought. How do you teach a new Christian the words to use to begin to talk to God? When a mature Christian has walked and talked with God for a long time, they forget what it was like at the beginning of their walk with Christ.
She would need to be told that prayer is simply talking to God. He isn’t as interested in our words as He is with the attitude of our heart. Because more mature Christians often pray long prayers (whole paragraphs – even a whole book) in one sitting, new Christians are intimidated. They know they can’t pray like that - nor do they need to.
Using the acrostic, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Asking, I would teach her to pray in short, simple sentences - something like this:
“Father God, I love You.”
“I was (name a bad attitude or action) today.”
“Thank You for cleansing my heart from these sins.”
“Please fill my heart with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to please You and get to know You better.”
When she begins to feel comfortable praying one short sentence prayers, she could begin praying several sentences for each element.
Too simple? For some people it would be. Others will welcome a very simple, “how to pray” outline. Regardless of how few or how many words we use, we can be sure that God listens to us – and to our hearts.
Jesus, Your disciples asked You to teach them how to pray. We also ask You to teach us to pray. Amen.