How to Pray

The Basics of Prayer

What is Prayer?

  • Spending time with God – seeking His face by getting to know Him and His ways
  • Communicating with God – communicating by both speaking and listening to Him
  • Communing with God – having intimate fellowship and building a relationship with Him

Why Should We Pray?

  • The Lord has told us to pray – prayer is an act of obedience
  • To praise God
  • To seek to know Him
  • To worship Him
  • To give thanks to Him
  • To confess sin and repent of sin
  • To petition God for something
  • To intercede on another’s behalf
  • To make supplication or to plead with God – most commonly a cry for God’s mercy
  • To wait on the Lord

What Should Prayer Accomplish?

  • God is glorified • God’s kingdom is built up
  • God’s power is released
  • Satan is bound
  • We get to know God and His ways
  • We grow in oneness with Him
  • We are transformed into His likeness as we seek Him
  • We gain deeper understanding of His will for our lives

Praying Together

Jesus tells us that there is great power in our prayers when we pray together with other believers. From the very beginning of the early church, we see the believers “all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Throughout the book of Acts we read vivid stories of how these prayers impacted the ministry of the disciples, leading to “many wonders and miraculous signs” and to “adding to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47). What would happen in our church, our community, if the people of Taylors FBC joined together constantly in prayer?

How Can You Become More Involved in "Corporate Prayer"

Below are some options to consider in order to begin praying regularly with others in our church body:

  • Use the beginning of this guide to develop your personal prayer life – ask God to “teach you to pray”
  • Sign up to receive the Prayer Update at
  • Sign up to pray in our Intercessory Prayer Room on a regular basis. Our Intercessors regularly pray over specific needs in our church and community (contact David Nelson at
  • Find a prayer partner to meet with regularly to pray for one another and for our church, community, and world.
  • Form a prayer group (possibly from your Life Group) to meet together for prayer on a regular basis.

Why Are My Prayers Not Answered at Times?

  • Realize that God is God and we are not – there are just some things we cannot understand. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…”

  • Consider when praying for other people that their wills and decisions will factor in. Where the will of man and the sovereignty of God meet, we may never know or understand.  The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.Deuteronomy 29:29

  • Consider whether or not you have disobedience, unconfessed sin, or an unforgiving spirit that can hinder your prayers (Mark 11:25; Psalm 66:18).

  • Check to be sure you are praying in accord with God’s Word – He reveals both Himself and His will to us in His Word, and we cannot separate prayer from the Word. To pray effectively for His kingdom purposes, we must incorporate the Word of God in our prayers, listening carefully for His voice.

How Can I Learn to Hear God Speak?

  • God says in John 10:27 that His sheep hear His voice. This means He speaks to us, most often, through His Word. Sometimes it will be very plain – the Word of God will seem to jump off the page at you.

    • It may take several days or even weeks for the Lord to sink a truth into your spirit. Keep searching His Word for confirmation. The Word of God is always in agreement with itself. Hearing from the Lord is not about a quick emotional high that leaves as quickly as it came. If you are not sure you are hearing correctly, ask the Lord to continue to reveal to you what is His desire. Be willing to wait.

    • He may speak to you through other people, articles, sermons, messages, etc.; but always check these things with His Word to see if what they say is in line with the Scriptures. This is what we are told the Bereans did in Acts 17:11…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

    • Listen as you read God’s Word.  Jesus said in Luke 8:18, …consider carefully how you listen…

    • Develop an attitude of hearing. Psalm 50:7 says, Hear, O my people, and I will speak… Be an active listener. Position yourself to hear.

    In 1 Samuel 3, God called his name, but he was not ready to hear. He did not recognize the Lord’s voice and kept running to Eli until finally Eli instructed him to be still and tell the Lord that he was listening. It was only then that the Lord spoke His message to Samuel.

Personal Prayer

Lord, teach us to pray…  Luke 11:1b

Establish a habit of regular prayer every day – you may begin with 5 or 10 minutes a day and increase your time as you begin to experience God’s presence.  A.C.T.S is an acronym that points us to the Lord’s Prayer and other basic elements of prayer throughout scripture.  You may find this method helpful as you grow in your understanding of how to pray, but remember no formula can completely capture the heart of effective prayer – the key is the heart condition of the one praying. 


Hebrews 13:15

Begin your prayer time by praising God for who He is. Call to mind specific characteristics – He is slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Praise and worship HIM. This is a time for telling God what He means to you and how much you love Him. Read the Psalms for great examples of adoration: O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1


1 John 1:9

Unconfessed sin creates a barrier between you and God and can hinder your prayers.  Pray Psalm 139:23: Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Wait and listen to see if God brings specific sin to mind, and then confess that sin to Him with a repentant heart (to repent is to stop and turn 180 degrees).  Often the feeling of a weight lifting will follow this step.


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thank God for His all-consuming love for you, for the glory of His handiwork, for His promises to you (if you don’t know them, start looking them up). When life is especially hard and you aren’t feeling thankful, thank Him for simple things such as family, friends, food, shelter, safety, jobs, health – counting your blessings, thanking and praising God for all He has given you and done in your life, can turn a negative spirit into a positive one.


Supplication, also known as intercession or petition, is where we come to the Father asking God to supply needs for ourselves and others.  Be specific in your prayers.  For example, instead of asking for God to bless your family, ask Him to draw your child’s heart to him, to give him or her a hunger and thirst for God.   If you feel led to pray for a certain person but don’t know exactly what that person needs, ask God to lead you in prayer. He will.

Remember,  the condition of your heart as you seek God is far more important than special words or a method of prayer!

Guidelines For Prayer

Devote Yourself To Prayer


To “devote” yourself means to “commit to wholly or chiefly – to set yourself apart for a special purpose” 



We often deny ourselves things that God wishes us to have because we fail to ask Him for them.  

Approach God in Reverent Submission


The Scripture tells us that Jesus’ attitude of reverent submission to His Father is why He was heard. We should come to God the same way.  

Pray in the Name of Jesus

JOHN 16:23

Apart from Jesus and the cross we have no basis on which to approach God at all. We come because of who He is, not who we are. To pray in His name includes being mindful of His character and what He Himself would pray.

Check Your Motives


Even a good prayer asked with the wrong motive behind it is not acceptable to God – we are to serve the Lord’s purpose in prayer, not our own.

Identify and Remove Hindrances to Prayer In Your Life

Prayer Continually

Always Pray (Don't Give Up)

Pray in the Spirit

Pray on All Occasions

Pray Using Many Kinds of Prayers and Requests

Pray For God's People

Be Clear Minded and Self-Controlled

Love Other Believers Deeply

1 Peter 4:8

Peter follows his words about prayer in 1 Peter 4:7 with this passage, implying that our love for one another affects our prayers also.

Live a Righteous Life (Stay in Right Standing with God)

Pray in Faith (Believe God is Who He Says and Will Do What He Has Promised)

Pray According to God's Will

Pray According to God's Word

John 15:7

Stay in right standing with God through a life of obedience and learn to pray His word back to Him.

Seek God With All of Your Heart

— Next Steps —

Resources for Further Study

Praying the Bible by Donald Whiney

Prayer by Tim Keller

Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson