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How to Pray: A Beginners Guide with Examples

Whether you are learning how to pray for the first time or struggling to find the words in a hard season you’ll find tips and examples for growing your faith through prayer. Prayer is such a powerful way to know God and experience Him in your daily life. Simply put– Christian prayer changes things!

If you want your life to change in a big way– start praying. God always hears, always welcomes you talking to Him through prayer.

Prayer is an important thing in the spiritual life of a follower of God. Jesus modeled prayer as a way of life often leaving behind the crowds of his ministry for a quiet place to pray.

woman with brown hair outdoors with head bowed and hands folded in prayer with text how to pray a beginners guide with examples.

What is prayer?

At its core, prayer is simply communicating with God. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or use super-spiritual words or sound how anyone else talks to God.

Sometimes when I pray I speak out loud to God. Other times I speak to Him inaudibly– using mental prayer. I love to write out my prayers as well. Taking the time to slow down and write out my feelings, requests, and worries is one of my favorite spiritual practices.

While it can feel like you need special words or “churchy” language–just the opposite is true. Speak to God in prayer like you would talk to a friend. Effective prayer doesn’t need to sound a certain way.

child with blonde hair and white shirt prays with folded hands

I love listening to my children pray and I’ve learned a lot by listening to their unpretentious prayers. When they pray they go on long, rambling prayers thanking God for anything from dinosaurs to Grandma’s cookies and asking for help for anyone from the mailman to their mama. It’s so tender and innocent and without shame or worry about saying the right things.

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What to say when you pray

Even though prayer is just talking to God many people can feel self-conscious, especially when praying out loud.

How to begin a prayer

Most prayers being by addressing God in some way.

  • “Dear God,”
  • “Father,”
  • Almighty God”
  • “God of the Universe”
  • “Dear Jesus,”

These are common ways to start prayers. Jesus started His prayers by addressing God as “Father”.

This is also the way He instructed his disciples to pray in the Lord’s prayer. You can also use other names of God found in the Bible as you learn them and they resonate with you or the situation you are praying over.

What do you say when you pray?

I’m not going to tell you exactly what to say when you pray… it’s a private conversation between you and God. In my post, How to Study the Bible, I used this everyday language prayer as an example of what you could pray as a response to reading the Bible.

“Hi Jesus, I read today about you healing a man that was blind. That’s kind of crazy to think about. Some people that are Christians seem to be all about healing and it seems fake, but it didn’t seem fake when you did it. I don’t know. I’m still not sure if it’s real, but you seemed really kind and like you noticed people and I like that about you. I’d like to be like that too….a person that helps others. Thanks for listening. -Amen”

It really can be that simple! Pray the way you talk!

What to say at the end of a prayer

“Amen” is the traditional way to end a prayer. Amen means “let it be so” or “so be it”. Some people add ” in the name of Jesus ” or “in Jesus’ name” before they they say Amen.

Amen has been used as a closing to prayers for centuries and is an affirmation of your faith for God to hear and act at the end of your own prayer.

Prayer infographic

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Why Is Prayer Important?

Prayer is communicating with God. Prayer draws us into God’s presence.

Without prayer our relationship with God loses it’s personal nature. We don’t just use prayer to ask for things, but as a way to connect with God, pouring out our worship, fears, needs, and feelings before Him.

Prayer also gives power to our spiritual lives. Our petitions before God changes things in this world.

Jesus modeled using the power of prayer for healing and miracles, as well as personal connection with God.

  • When Joshua prayed the sun stood still so he could win his battle. (Joshua 10)
  • When Elijah prayed the land of Israel entered a drought. (1 Kings 17)
  • When the disciples couldn’t drive out a demon, Jesus did, telling them that this kind could only be driven out by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29)
  • James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Prayer in the Bible

God’s Word is filled with wonderful examples of prayer for us to pray for ourselves and learn from. If you ever feel like you don’t have the words to pray the good news is the Bible is filled with prayers for you to pray to God.

The Lord’s prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 is the most well known prayer in the Bible. It is a great place to begin praying if you never have before.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘ Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

The prayer of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked” (1 Chronicles 4:10)

The apostle Paul prayer for the church in Ephesus is a great example of prayer for those who are following the Lord Jesus Christ in difficult times.  Ephesians 3:16-19 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Four Types of Prayers to Pray Regularly

1. Worshipping Prayers

These prayers are all about God. Where you declare Him good, holy, just, kind and adore or bring recognition to WHO HE IS outside of what He does. A simple way to think of them is as “Wow, God” prayers.

“Wow, God, I’m so struck by your justice. I know one day you will judge every person, every action and you will judge it RIGHTLY. You have never done anything wrong and you never will. You understand justice in a way that is eternal and cosmic and so much bigger than I can comprehend. I honor and marvel at how just you are. Amen”

woman praying in sunshine with Bible in front of her

2. Confessing Prayers

Confession prayers are just like they sound like–you confess your sins to God. God already knows your sins, yes, but in confessing our sins we find the faithful forgiveness of God. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them find mercy.”

“God I have been so bitter today. Forgive me for my bitterness. I know you love me no matter what, but I want to be made new in your image. Replace my bitterness with compassion. Give me wisdom to understand why I’m continuing to choose a bitter reaction and how I can seek peace and healthy communication with those I love. Amen. “

3. Thanking Prayers

Thanking prayers are where we get to recount all the ways we are thankful and so blessed by God in our everyday life. Similar to worshipping prayers, but the focus is more on thanking God what He’s done versus celebrating His character.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for the warm sunshine today. Thank you for this hot cup of coffee and the magical Christmas lights. Thank you for never leaving me or forsaking me–I’ve felt lonely this week, but I know I am never truly alone. Thank you for your grace which you’re pouring out on me everyday. Amen.”

4. Asking Prayers

Often called “prayers of supplication”, these prayers are when we ask God for our daily needs, desires, and physical needs. Often they fill up our prayer life quickly as we ask for God to intervene for sick friends, family members who are hurting, and for our own needs to be met.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us come boldly to the throne of grace

Never fear of God tiring of you asking and remember if you are God’s child you can have BOLDNESS as you ask! God’s answers may not always be what you hope for, but never doubt He will come through for you.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” -Hebrews 4:16

“God please heal little Levi’s body. Bring life back to his brain and body. You are the great physician, the one who called “little girl, rise up” and you can call him to life again. Grant his parents wisdom, strength and peace during this season. May they feel your loving arms wrapped around them today. Amen.”

4 <span style='background-color:none;'>types of prayers</span><span style='background-color:none;'> </span>to pray when you're learning how to pray regularly infographic

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How to Grow Your Prayer Life

  1. Write out prayers — This is a great way to get comfortable praying aloud as well. I love writing down my prayers and have been doing so for years. I have a space for writing out your prayers in my Bible Study Worksheet as well!
  2. Use a prayer book to guide you — Sometimes we struggle to find the words to pray, in those moments I find it helpful to pray the words of someone else to God. This is called “liturgical prayer” and has been used by the church for centuries. The Book of Common Prayer and Prayers for Ash and Sunlight are two prayer books I recommend.
  3. Keep a prayer list — Use the notes section on your phone or a classic style journal to record your Asking Prayer List. Date requests and leave space for the answer that God will provide. I love looking back at these lists as a testament to God’s constant working in my life.
  4. Create a prayer closet — Prayer closets have existed for years, but have recently become popular due to the popular Christian movie, War Room. Prayer closets are private spaced with purposeful, written out prayers you are praying specifically for yourself, your family, your marriage, your government, etc. There are some great tips for creating a prayer closet here, but remember you can pray anywhere at anytime and it is just as effective!
  5. Make a prayer journal — More than a prayer list, this journal is a place to pour out your heart before God. You can simply write out prayers, have a section for thanksgivings and requests, and have room for artistic prayer journaling.
  6. Pray with other people — Praying corporately with God’s people in worship services or in a small group can majorly grow your prayer life. Look for a community of believers to connect with, grow your faith, and pray together and for each other.
  7. Ask others to pray for you — Ask those you have healthy relationships with to pray for your requests with you.
  8. Creative ways to pray — You may want to engage in prayer times that are more unconventional. I love to take prayer walks outdoors on trails. I also practice breath prayers, where you inhale while mentally praying one or two words and then exhale finishing with another couple words. For example, Inhale: God is… Exhale: my strength.

If you’re looking for a great next step to growing your prayer life I’ve bundled some of my favorite tools together in this Vibrant Quiet Time Bundle!

There is a printable prayer list which is so helpful to see how God brings answers to your faithful prayers. Also it has prayer pages for you to use to regularly pray for important people and situations in your life. Plus, a Bible Study Worksheet to help you process what you read in the Bible and write out prayer responses!

The Vibrant Life Quiet Time Bundle with printable bible study worksheet and printable prayer journal

Prayer Resources to Learn More

Learning to Pray by Billy Graham —  “Learn to speak to God through prayer, offer him praise and thanksgiving, and listen for an answer. Talk to God and get to know Him better as you journey on life’s path.”

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer — If you’re ready to really grow your prayer life with specific and powerful prayers this is a great study! It will help grow the intentionality of your prayer life for sure!

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado — Discover the heart of prayer with Lucado’s trademark grace and wisdom in this great book for beginners or experienced.

Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore — 10 Weeks of devotional prayer. I like this book because it is set up with Scripture reading, teaching on prayer, and pages to write out prayers each day.

Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel — This book is on my to-read list! Looks like an amazing and encouraging read to challenge your prayer walk!

How to Pray by C.S. Lewis — This is another book I am looking forward to picking up soon. It’s collected essays and exerts of C.S. Lewis on prayer.

More Tools to Grow Your Faith

What are devotions? 5 Examples to Grow Your Faith

25 Best Devotional Apps for Christian Moms

15 Best Bible Verses on Prayer

What Book of the Bible Should I Read First

Click here to see more of the best ways to grow your faith!

While there are many prayer methods, tips and strategies in this post, learning how to pray is as simple as speaking to God.

Speak to him often, write out your prayers to him, grow in your relationship with Him and prayer will become as natural as speaking to your best friend.

If this article was informative and uplifting to your faith journey, please save it for later and share it with a friend! 

20 helpful tips for becoming confident in prayer text overlay on photo of black woman praying with hands uplifted

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