“Is there a right way to pray?” I heard this question from a new Christian who was struggling to figure out prayer, but it’s one I’ve also wondered myself.
Do you ever wonder if you’re praying the right way? Are you using the right words, the right motions, the right methods? Are your attempts at prayer good enough for God to listen?
So many guides and instructions on how to pray, but which one is “right”?
- Do I close my eyes or open them?
- Do I kneel and bow my head or look up at God?
- Should I be praying the written prayers of the prayer book or making up my own?
- What about some of other methods, like praying through art or movement? Are those really praying?
- What do I need to say in my prayers?
- Do I need to use the big “church-y” words or are my own enough?
- Aren’t there some rules I’m supposed to follow?
- Where do I start?
What about you? Do you ever wonder if you’re getting it “right”? Wonder if you’re praying the “right” way?
Let’s explore prayer and find the “right” prayer methods for your prayers!
Is There a Right Way to Pray?
What are the essentials for prayer? Should we follow certain rules and guidelines? To answer this question, I went in search of what Jesus taught about prayer and examples of prayer captured in scripture.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV)
When Jesus taught about prayer, he was more focused on the state of our heart and our intent for prayer, rather than the form and content of our prayers. He did provide some content structure through the Lord’s Prayer, but his teaching primarily focused on coming to God with a humble and forgiving heart, ready to include God in all our conversations, needs, and decisions.
Jesus taught these essentials about prayer:
- Have an open and moldable heart, aligned with God, and pray in the Spirit
- Pray frequently
- Pray about everything and everyone
- Be humble and forgiving
As long as you approach God in these ways and open your heart to Him, there is no one single “right” way to pray.
Why So Many Methods For Prayer?
Over time, Christians have found numerous ways to approach God through prayer. Some people are great at just sitting down and entering into a prayer conversation with God, while others need more structure and guidance.
We can also find examples throughout scripture of various prayer methods. The Psalms provide examples of corporate prayer and prayer through written words and song. Jesus incorporated scripture in his prayers. Joshua and the Israelites marched around Jericho in an example of a powerful prayer walk. Just to name a few…
God designed us each with different communication and learning styles, so the way I pray best may not be the optimal method for you.
- Perhaps you’re wired for the written word, either to communicate through reading or writing.
- Maybe you’re more wired for oral communication.
- Some of us love silence, while it makes others uncomfortable.
- Others of us are wired more creatively and communicate best through art or music.
- Sometimes we need movement to help us focus and communicate.
- Other times, we need the language of scripture or the words of others to expand and enhance our own prayer language.
Prayer Methods That Match Your Communication Style
The best way to find the prayer methods that work best with how God designed you is to try them. Explore the various prayer methods and see which ones fit best for you and help you connect with God in your prayer time.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. You just might find a new favorite!
Your preferences may even change over time, so periodically try some of the methods again. Variety keeps your prayers fresh and focused.
I have researched and written on a number of prayer methods. Below are links to learn more. For a more convenient, printable format, grab a copy of my new Prayer Toolbox, a reference guide for your prayer time detailing 16 of these prayer methods, including over 50 ideas for how to incorporate these into your daily prayers.
Are you just getting started with prayer?
Not sure what to pray? Want to expand your prayer language?
Try some of these more structured methods, using templates and guides:
- How to Pray The Lord’s Prayer
- How to Use the A.C.T.S. Prayer Template
- How to Pray the 5 Finger Prayer
- How to Use Prayer Prompts to Pray Throughout the Day
- How to Use the Book of Common Prayer in Your Daily Prayers
- How to Pray the P.A.S.T. Prayer for Purification
Praying Scripture is also a fantastic way to get started with prayer.
Do you love the written word?
Try writing your prayers in a prayer journal.
Are you more wired for oral communication (do you love to talk)?
Try speaking your prayers or praying with others.
Do you love the silence and desire to hear God’s whisper into your heart?
Try some of these more contemplative forms of prayer:
- How to Pray a Listening Prayer
- How to Pray the Examen
- How to Begin Your Prayers with a Centering Prayer
- How to Find Stillness with God
- How to Pray with Gospel Contemplation
- How to Pray Through Lectio Divina
Do you express yourself through forms of art?
Are you creative? Do you express yourself best through art?
Try doodling or drawing your prayers Or, pray through works of art.
- How to Pray with Prayer Doodles
- How to Use Art in Your Prayers with Prayer Mandalas
- How to Pray Visio Divina
- Praying with Icons
Or, try praying through music:
Do you need movement to help your mind focus?
Sometimes we focus and listen best when we’re moving, so try forms of prayer that involve walking.
The Prayer Toolbox
Even though I’ve studied and used these various prayer forms, I sometimes still get stuck in my prayer time.
To help refocus my prayer time, I created The Prayer Toolbox as a reference guide to keep near my Bible.
When I’m feeling disconnected or distracted, I can look through these ideas and find one to use in my prayer time. Sometimes a small change or different approach is just what I need to refocus and reinspire my prayer time.
The Prayer Toolbox includes details on many of these prayer methods and includes more than 50 ideas to inspire your prayer life.
Click on the image below to learn more:
What Are Your Best Prayer Methods?
As you explore different methods for prayer, you’ll find a combination of these that work best for your prayer life.
You’ll find one or two methods as your “go-to” for everyday prayer.
You may have another couple that you use when you really need to get quiet to listen for God’s guidance.
You may have another for when you simply want to praise and worship God.
Then, there are the ones you use to shake things up a bit and reignite your prayer life when your prayers begin to feel lackluster.
As an example, these are my personal prayer preferences:
- For everyday prayer: written prayers (prayer journaling) or praying through scripture
- To closely listen for God’s responses: Lectio Divina or listening prayer
- To worship and praise God: prayer through music
- To change things up: prayer doodles or a virtual prayer walk
You’ll develop a different set of preferences as you explore the various prayer methods. Find ones that work best with your communication and learning styles.
God made you unique and wonderful and He will receive you in the prayer forms that work best with how He created you.
I invite you to explore these prayer methods and find your favorites. Write down your favorites and keep them in your journal or Bible as a reference. Note which forms of prayer you like for each of these purposes:
- For everyday prayer: _____________
- To closely listen for God’s responses: _____________
- To worship and praise God: _____________
- To change things up: _____________