Bible Question:

I have problems when I am asked to pray. It is a comfort issue. I do not always have the right words and I feel that I repeat the same prayer when I am asked to pray. What suggestions/ helps do you recommend?

Bible Answer:

What Can I Say In My Prayers?

There is a story that goes something like this. It was a very hot day, and the house was full of guests. Things were not going too well. Finally, the mother got everyone seated for dinner and asked her seven-year-old daughter to say grace. “But mother,” said her daughter, “I do not know what to say.” “Yes you do,” said her mother, “Just pray the last prayer you heard me use.” Obediently, the child bowed her head and hesitantly said, “Oh, Lord, why did I invite these people on such a hot day?” Wow, was that mother surprised! Her daughter only wanted to know what to say. How should we pray? Here are some suggestions.

Follow the “Lord’s Prayer”

Jesus’ disciples wanted to know how to pray too! Jesus helped them by giving them an example of a prayer they should use.

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (NASB) Matt. 6:9-13

You do not need to memorize and repeat this prayer. Jesus gave this prayer as an example of the types of things we should request. Jesus started with a focus on God before we ask for anything for ourselves.

Focus On God

Jesus teaches us to speak to God the Father and to ask that He be recognized as being holy. Many people do not see God as holy but as an old, cosmic kill joy who is out of touch with the world. Or, they have created a god that they want – one who “understands them” and sees them as “good people.” The God of the Bible who loves us, but is also angry at sin and will send sinners to hell, is also called holy. Jesus then tells us to ask that God’s will be done on this earth.

Focus On Yourself

Jesus then encouraged His disciples to ask that God meet their daily needs. This is amazing, since God has promised to meet our daily needs.

But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or With what shall we clothe ourselves? For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (NASB) Matt. 6:30-32

Yet, we are encouraged to ask. We are also encouraged to ask for forgiveness and to be delivered from temptation before we close our prayer. Here is a short prayer that a four-year-old gave in church one Sunday.

And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.

She had confused “trespasses” for “trash baskets.” Yet, the young one was not too far off. Our sins are trash. Did you notice that God is holy and we are not? His name is be “hallowed” or “made holy” and we need forgiveness!

Focus On Others

Later in the New Testament the Holy Spirit encourages us to pray for the needs of others.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints . . . (NASB) Eph. 6:18

Yes, God knows their needs, too, but we are encouraged to ask for them also. Here are some other things for which we can pray.

RequestPassage
For a demon to be removedMark 9:28-29
For escape from troubleMark 13:18
For escape from temptationMark 14:38
For those who curse youLuke 6:28
For help in making a decisionActs 1:24-25
To know more about GodActs 10:1-8
For someone in troubleActs 12:5
For help in ministryActs 13:2-3
For the salvation of othersRom 10:1; 2 Thess. 3:1
For help2 Cor. 1:11
For others to do what is morally right2 Cor. 13:7
For others will love morePhilippians 1:9
Thank GodPhilemon 1:4
For healingJames 5:13

There are all kinds of needs we can pray for: health, joy, thankfulness, forgiveness, spiritual growth, financial needs, and opportunities to share Jesus with others.

Conclusion:

What can we pray for? We can pray for God, ourselves, and others. Holiness is the first thing that came to Jesus’ mind. Then we can pray for ourselves and others.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit . . . (NASB) Jude 1:20

May the Lord bless you as you pray.

Reference Links:

The Lord's Prayer
Lord’s Prayer
What Jesus Taught About Prayer - Sermons
When I pray does crying help?
How can God answer all of our prayers?
Is asking God for things selfish?
Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?
Is prayer without labour meaningless?