How I Learned to Pray Like Jesus Taught Us

Published Apr 29, 2024
How I Learned to Pray Like Jesus Taught Us

Not only did Christ’s death on the cross save me from my sins, but it allowed me the ability to ask for the big things. 

When we are little, our parents teach us to ask God for our prayer requests while we pray for our family and friends. As children, we pray this way because it matches our level of comprehension. But when we get older, we read the Bible and discover Jesus gave us a formula for how he wants us to pray. As we learn to pray the way Jesus taught us, not only will we experience intimacy with him but also God’s miraculous work in our lives. 

Here’s how I learned to pray like Jesus taught us: 

I Start with Praise

When I start any prayer time, I begin with praising God. If I'm having difficulty focusing on praise, I think of all the things he's done for me in the past. When I'm in tune with the Spirit, it is easy to recall all the ways God has been there for me. Whether it's been through financial provision, healing my body, forgiving my sin, or another blessing, I take the time to focus on praising God for those things. 

For many years through my spiritual life, I focused solely on giving him my prayer requests. But it wasn't until I got older and more mature that I realized I needed to praise him simply because he is God. God simply wants to be with us. He does not love us based on our performance. However, he does delight when we do the right thing, confess our sins, treat others the way we want to be treated, and love others above ourselves. God does these things out of his own nature. Therefore, I need to praise him for the ways in which he has modeled this for me. Above all, I praise him for sending his Son so that I may learn how to be more like him and allow him access to my life to have fellowship with him. 

I Confess My Sins

Once I'm done praising God, it always leads me to a time of confession. These are the things that I know are hindering me from having a completely intimate relationship with him. Sometimes I'm aware of my sin; other times he needs to reveal it. Although there are things I'll always struggle with, I know that when I confess my sin, the Holy Spirit will help me overcome these struggles. When I'm done confessing every sin, I praise him again for being faithful to forgive my sin and allowing his grace to cover all my unrighteousness. 

I Practice Thanksgiving

My time of confession always leads me into a time of thanksgiving. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for all the ways God has saved me. The mere fact that he sent his Son to die just for me so that I may have intimacy with the Father is enough for me to be thankful. However, when I get into the attitude of thanksgiving, it is easier for me to focus on all the things that he currently is doing for which I can be grateful. Even when I get into a pattern of negative thinking and it's difficult to find gratitude in my circumstances, by re-focusing my attention on the things God has done, and all the ways he is currently working in my life, there is an undeniable reason for me to give praise and thanks to God.

I Present My Requests

Last, I present him with my prayer requests. These are the things that weigh heavily on my soul. I start off with personal prayer requests, then I pray for others. Over time, God has taught me to ask for the merely impossible things in addition to the small things. For example, I may have hopes and dreams that I have not verbalized to God. These may be the things that are in my soul that I want to have happen but I'm afraid to ask. God has taught me I should be asking for those things in his name. If it is his will, those things will come to fruition. 

Not only did Christ’s death on the cross save me from my sins, but it allowed me the ability to ask for the big things. The things in my life that seem impossible are things that God may do when he chooses to do so. I should not limit him and think he cannot move or work simply because the request seems too big for me to handle alone. God formed the earth in seven days, he made dead bones rise again, and he raised his Son from the dead. Surely, the things I ask of him are mere tiny requests compared to all the things of which he is capable. 

I Practice Disciplines

One way that keeps me able to pray the way Jesus taught us in his Word is for me to practice spiritual discipline. For example, I recently attended a silent retreat. This gave me forty-eight hours of pure silence with God. Although my husband was with me, I sat alone outside at a retreat center and just focused on God. To get my mind to stop racing with the burdens I was carrying, sometimes it took me several hours to simply just stare at the water and observe my surroundings. By allowing my mind to focus solely on where I am and my present moment, it helps me to be able to go through this process of prayer. Although I make every effort to pray every morning with the same process, the distractions of life sometimes hinder me from doing so. However, when I take myself away from my environment, get alone, and rid myself of all distractions, it is then that I see God at work the most.

I Hear from God

Growing up, I believed prayer was merely talking to God. But as I have grown, I realized prayer is not only talking to God but also listening for God. God wants to talk to us. He wants to reveal things to our souls that only he knows. This increases our intimate relationship together. However, if I don't make the space or room for him to speak, I will rob myself of the opportunity to have intimacy with God. When I'm done confessing, giving him his praise and gratitude, and asking for my requests, I sit in silence and allow God to speak to me. There are times when God speaks, though other times he does not. The goal of sitting in silence is not to get something out of it. Rather, it is to spend time with God. When I pray, I tell God he can speak in any way he wishes. This allows me to get rid of my own expectations of the situation but also allows my relationship with God to simply be transactional. 

When I sit in silence with the Lord, our relationship is no longer of him being a genie in a bottle. I don't merely make a wish and hope that my wish comes true. Rather, the Holy Spirit lives inside of me, and he, in tandem with his Son, is able to guide my life. However, it is difficult to yield my life to God when I don't hear from him. When I take intentional time away to just sit and listen to God, I always get something out of it. I'm grateful for those times, and they increase my intimacy with God. This also is an incentive for me to continue in that spiritual practice. 

Jesus taught us how to pray. He wanted us to pray beginning with adoration, then confession, then thanksgiving, then prayer requests. He does this to not make prayer a regimented, rote exercise devoid of meaning. Rather, he places my priorities where they belong. Although God is gracious and will listen to my prayer requests, if I'm especially burdened with something, he deserves all praise. When I begin my prayer time giving him the praise and adoration he deserves, he always blesses me with a special word that speaks straight to my heart.  

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Anastasiia Stiahailo

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website