I am going to be straightforward here, and freely admit that when I see articles about praying, I tend to find myself almost automatically tuning out. This is likely due to many of the prayer posts and articles I've read in the past. They seemed light on Scriptures, and heavy on lovey feely. As I am blessed by being an Aspie, I'm more interested in logic and facts, rather than fuzzies and feelings. Lovey Fuzzies have their place, but they are not as important as facts, and the Scriptures contain the most potent facts in existence.
"Pray" means to ask, as is evident from the following Scriptures:
Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. -Genesis 12:3
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. -Genesis 13:8
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. -Genesis 18:3-5
If praying is asking, then how to do we pray to God? Certainly, we don't only speak to God just when we want something, or there would be no relationship. God says that we need to know him, and he needs to know us, or we have no eternal life abiding in us. This is a deep, intimate knowing. A husband and wife know each other intimately in the marriage bed:
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth -Genesis 4:25a
In the below, a woman was raped. They "knew her" very intimately, but she didn't know them, because the feelings were not mutual:
But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. -Judges 19:25
The Roman Catholicism cult teaches the perpetual virginity of Mary, yet this isn't the case, as we see in the following:
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. -Matthew 1:24-25
This intimate knowing in the marriage is a close, God ordained thing. It is not dirty, like rape, adultery, or fornication:
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. -Hebrews 13:4
In Ephesians chapter five, we learn that a godly marriage is a picture, or type of lesson, teaching us about our relationship with Christ:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it -Ephesians 5:22-25
The wife is like the church, and the husband is like Christ, in this picture lesson. The husband and wife are to intimately know each other, and in the Christian's relationship with Christ, the Christian and Christ are to know each other, they are to have a deep, spiritual relationship. Prayer is a big part of this close relationship.
If you know Christ, but he doesn't know you, then the relationship was one sided:
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. -Matthew 7:19-23
Staying with our Roman Catholic cult example, a good percentage of Roman Catholics are going to hell. They have a one-way relationship with God. They are not coming to the Father on HIS terms, but on the "church's" terms. They are not producing Christian fruits, but instead are doing these seemingly great works, which count for nothing towards a relationship with Christ, because there is none.
When you are close to someone, you tell them everything. They are there for you, and you are there for them. You trust them explicitly, and I hope they may trust you, as well. Prayer is such an important aspect of the Christian's relationship with Christ, that we are told to pray without stopping:
Pray without ceasing. -1 Thessalonians 5:17
The above Scripture is one of the reasons why I head cover. 1 Corinthians 11 is clear that Christian woman are to have their heads covered while praying and prophesying, and if I am to pray without stopping, then I'd better stay covered.
1 Thessalonians chapter five has a lot more information about our relationship with God, besides just praying without ceasing, and we will look at those in a moment. But first....
How many of us do pray without ceasing? How is that possible? I believe the only way to do this is to have a constant, always-open dialogue with God. He should be foremost in our thoughts, above everything and everybody else. Obviously, it would then be impossible for a Christian woman to always have a covering on her head while praying. Certainly she can't have a covering on her head while she is washing her hair, for example. However, I believe when a Christian woman follows the covering command in 1 Corinthians 11, then she is still under the spirit of that, even when she is praying when not covered, such as right before going to sleep, just at waking up, while showering, etc.
I mentioned a moment ago about other relationship wisdom in 1 Thessalonians chapter five, for our Christian relationship with the Heavenly Father. Let's look at some more of those:
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. -1 Thessalonians 5:15
The flesh wants to get revenge on other people, or to hurt someone in some way, because they hurt you. This is NOT God's way for the Christian. A good reference Bible will point you to more Scriptures teaching us not to return evil for evil. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
Rejoice evermore. -1 Thessalonians 5:16
When should the Christian rejoice? The above says always! Where's your smile? Where's your joy, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)? As a billboard I saw once said - "Christians, notify your faces."
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18
What should we be thankful for? The above says EVERYTHING! Are we thankful for our homes? Are we thankful for our clothes, our food, our family, our church, our neighbors, our looks, our everything? Or are we ungrateful, selfish, and spoiled? Do we thank God in our prayers on a daily basis?
Quench not the Spirit. -1 Thessalonians 5:19
When you are thirsty, you drink some water, and then your thirst is quenched. You did something to make your thirst go away. God's Holy Spirit isn't following you into sin. Invite God's Holy Spirit with you everywhere. If you are doing something that would be embarrassing if God were watching, then you are doing something wrong. Words are powerful - often more powerful than most things. How are you using them? Are you gossiping, tale bearing, and backbiting? That's certainly one way, of many, to quench the Holy Spirit.
Abstain from all appearance of evil. -1 Thessalonians 5:22
Notice the keyword - "appearance." If you are doing nothing wrong, but it looks like you are, then that can be a bad witness to new Christians, or possible future converts. Appearance in action, countenance, and clothing do count for something in furthering the Kingdom of God.
There is so much more meat in this chapter, so I urge you to take the time to study it. It is both convicting and edifying.
So far, we see that the word "pray" means to ask, that we are to have a relationship with God that works both ways, and that we should have an ongoing, open communication with Him, therefore praying without ceasing, in praise, supplications, thankfulness, and listening. Jesus teaches us how to pray in His Holy Word:
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. -Matthew 6:4-5
When Christians do good works, they are not to tout it, or be obvious about it. Really, who cares if anyone knows? God knows, and He will reward us for it. Intead of receiving the praise of men, wouldn't you much rather receive gifts and blessings from the Heavenly Father? I know I would. Along that same line of thought, Jesus then goes on to say that we should also not pray in such a way that it is meant to draw people's attention to our "holiness." You know, there are some big, fancy shmancy churches out there, that have an ostentatious, world-interpretation of being "holy." Look at their tall steeples (pagan symbol), their fancy stained glass windows (idolatry), and their gothic or modern architecture. Hmmmm.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. -verse 6
Where is your prayer closet? Don't tell me, just think about it.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. verse 7
Could you imagine if someone were going to ask you something, but instead of asking you, they asked your mother, and asked her to ask you, but they asked your mother by saying "hail," and her name, and repeating it over and over again? Yet, the biggest pagan cult in the world does this every single day. They pray to a dead woman (necromancy - condemned in the Bible) and ask her to pray to Jesus for them, and they do these prayers to this dead woman, or some to God, in vain repetitions.
I think in taking this verse further, it is a reminder to all of us to pray from the heart. Personally, I think prayer books and memorized prayers that some people say are ridiculous. Would you like it, if your child wanted to ask you something, but he opened a book of requests written by someone else, and read it to you, instead of sharing his heart with you? If you are a child of God, then remember - Abba Father - he is your Heavenly Father - not some old-looking, bearded guy, waiting to throw lightening at you.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. -Verses 9-13
Some people and churches vainly repeat this prayer from memory, a prayer book, or the Bible. Vain repetitions, anyone? The above prayer was an example, not a specific prayer we are supposed to say, word for word. This is why Jesus said "after this MANNER therefore pray ye." Prayer is supposed to be from the heart, not the recitation of someone else's words.
Sisters in Christ, there are so many more Scriptures in the Holy Bible about prayer. Volumes could be written about them all. They are so rich and deep, and we can learn so much. That is how the Bible is, though. It is the book written by God, and its efficiency is astounding. Just one verse, or even a few words can change a person forever.
The Bible says to pray without ceasing, to love others as we love ourselves, to pray for our enemies, to pray for those in need, etc. If we don't have the automatic reflex to pray for someone we see in need, or in hurt, or an enemy, then we need to fall on our spiritual knees, in our spiritual prayer closets, and beseech our Father to give us a heart of prayer. Prayer avails so much - the spiritual world is more real than our own, and we can barely fathom a speck of it. Don't underestimate the power of prayer - that is, prayer from a heart that truly loves, and yearns for the Father's will.
The gay man you saw in the ice cream aisle in the store - did you pray for him? The person whose car stalled out at the traffic light on the other side of the intersection - did you pray for them? The bum on the side of the street with the drug addiction, scamming for money - did you pray for him? The person who wronged you - did you pray for them?
On the other side, don't use prayer as an excuse to do nothing, when it is in your power to do something, especially if you feel led to. See the Bible story about the Good Samaritan.
What do you need to pray about right now? What's stopping you? Go ahead. No one need even know you are praying, but you and God.