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Forget the life jacket and pray

I heard a story of a ship that was sinking in the middle of a storm, and the captain called out to the crew and said, “Does anyone here know how to pray?”

One man stepped forward and said, “Yes sir, I know how to pray.”

The captain said, “Wonderful, you pray while the rest of us put on life jackets — we’re one short.”

Do you ever feel like something is missing from your walk with the Lord? Do you ever feel like the only person on a sinking ship without a life jacket?

There is power in prayer; it has no boundaries or borders, but many of us aren’t sure how to get started or what to say. 

Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. This sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Having the right ingredients or elements in your prayers are much more important than whether they sound fancy or elegant. 

In fact, you can talk to God just like you would talk to a parent or best friend. So forget about how you say it, and focus on what you want and need to say.

The Bible talks about “petitioning” God in prayer – this means to earnestly plea or implore.  To “present your requests” to God is simply to tell Him specifically what you need. 

Praying about each worry or need in your life shuts out worry because it invites God to be involved in every area of your life, and when He is engaged in each aspect of your life, there is nothing to fear.

Here are seven steps that can help you pray more effectively and deepen the relationship you have with your Lord:

1. Acknowledge your personal relationship with God as His child. Recognize that God is holy and powerful and give Him the reverence that He deserves. Having a loving relationship with God is like that between a parent and child.

2. Acknowledge your respect for who God is. Commit your life to God each day, promising to live according to His will. Praise God during prayer and throughout your day, becoming absorbed in Him.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”- John 15:7

3. Confess your sins. It is so important to ask God to forgive your sins and ask Him to continue to love and care for you. Repentance is a sign of your understanding that you have – like all of us have – broken God’s commands, and are sorry for what you have done. By acknowledging that our sins have separated us temporarily from God, we are once again brought closer to Him.

4. Ask God in prayer. Many of us feel guilty if we ask God for anything, fearing that we aren’t worthy and that we are being demanding, or that we might anger God. It is just the opposite – by asking God, we are acknowledging that we can’t do it alone; we are recognizing our need for His divine intervention and showing that we trust in Him to help us. Nothing could make God happier.

5. Be Specific. Prayers can be quite general, asking for blessings from the Lord, but it is okay to be specific, too. When we ask the Lord to help us find a better job, resolve a problem with our spouse or anything else that is personal to us, we are opening our innermost hearts to Him. This personal, private kind of prayer asking for specific help tells God that we have faith in Him to watch over us in small ways as well as big ones.  He wants to be the Lord of our lives in all things large and small, so it is fine to pray to find a way to get a new dryer if yours breaks down.

6. Have an attitude of expectancy and faith. Trust that God can answer any prayer.  Have faith that god will hear you when you pray according to His will.  Do not pray in fear or out of desperation because “nothing else has worked.” Pray confidently, with the faith that God will fulfill your expectations in the best way possible for you, born out of His divine wisdom.

“Listen to me!  You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.”– Mark 11:24

7. Pray in Jesus’ name. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s own son. We are able to take full advantage of Jesus’ death on the cross as a payment for our sins by acknowledging His sacrifice in our prayers. It also ties us to the new life of Christ’s resurrection. The secret of our Christian life is also the secret of praying – doing all in Jesus’ name.

“Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do.” -  John 14:13

Every prayer is important. Every prayer counts. Our prayers exalts God for who He is. There is power in prayer. In His presence is where we will find our greatest blessings.

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