(presented by Lauren Stibgen)

Do words get in the way? Is there a right way to pray? One of the things I have found from praying for others and with others is that there are many people who don’t know where to start when it comes to prayer. The good news is God has provided wonderful encouragement throughout the scriptures that can guide us.

So many acronyms are offered to help us “model” our words to the Lord. A dose of praise and reverence, some repentance, and often a request. But does it all need to flow together and be in the same pattern each time? It almost seems like a recipe.

Recently I was joined by a friend and her husband for dinner. We enjoyed the meal, and a few weeks later, she asked me for my recipe because they had enjoyed the meal. I had to stop and think—I had no formal recipe for how I made this dish. Sometimes I weave a few different ideas together from what I find to make my own version. Like a recipe, prayer can be your own version.

Sometimes when I simply don’t know what to pray for, I am encouraged that in Romans 8:26-27 I know that the Spirit helps us in our weakness. When we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit will intercede for us with groanings too deep for words.

God doesn’t expect our prayers to be the same. He knows that the world will be bringing us different joys and different trials. Be encouraged that God wants ALL your requests (Philippians 4:7).

One of the ways I have challenged myself in prayer is to better understand the names of God in the bible. It has opened my prayer life. God is a compassionate God. He is a God with care and kindness. In Exodus 34:6, the Lord passes in front of Moses proclaiming, “the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

God is also my Helper. In both the Psalms and Hebrews 13:6 we see that “the Lord is my helper; I will not fear”.

Thinking of God’s compassion and as my helper shapes my prayers differently. I know God sees my weakness and has mercy on me, and I can pray for his help during the day.

Sometimes, I simply ask God to carry my burden. “Lord, can you carry this for me? I need your help.” In Matthew 6:8, I am reminded, He already knows what I need, and I don’t need to be specific.

But I also know that God is Elohim—Mighty Creator. He is in all things, and I go to him with exceeding humility.