What is the proper way to pray?

Question: "What is the proper way to pray?"

Is it best to pray standing up, sitting down, on your knees, or bowing down? Should my hands be open, closed, or lifted up to God? Do my eyes need to be closed when I pray? Is it better to pray in a church building or out in nature? Should I pray in the morning when I get up or at night before I go to bed? Are there certain words that I need to say in my prayer? How do I begin my prayer? What is the proper way to close a prayer? These questions, and others, are common questions we receive about prayer. What is the proper way to pray? Do any of the above things even matter?

Far too often, prayer is viewed as some form of “magic formula.” If you do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer your prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. First John 5:14-15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of Him.” Similarly, John 14:13-14 declares, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” According to these, and many other, Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the Name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).

So, what is the proper way to pray? Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The proper way to pray is to pour out your heart to God. Be honest and open with God, as He already knows you better than you know yourself. Present your requests to God, but keep in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for you. Express your love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer, but do not worry about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of your heart than the quality of your words.

The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Please understand, though, the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. It is an example of the things that should go into a prayer—worship, trust in God, requests, confession, protection, etc. Pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, but use your own words and “customize” it to your own journey with God. The proper way to pray is by expressing your heart to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; at morning or at night – these are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction and appropriateness. God’s desire is that prayer be a personal and real connection between us and Him.

Recommended Resource: Prayer, The Great Adventure by David Jeremiah.

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What is the proper way to pray?