How do you say a powerful prayer? How do you pray to someone who you cannot see and cannot hear?
When I pray to God, I visualize that I am talking to another person. Jesus spoke to His father in Heaven. While Jesus had seen His father before, we are not told he interacted with His father in any other way but in prayer.
During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. - Luke 6:12 (CSB)
Sometimes in my mind, I can see Jesus fervently praying to God as one would plead with their parents for something they feel they cannot live without. Other times, I see Jesus praying to His father in everyday conversation, just like how I talk to my dad.
However you visualize God, just pray to Him like you would talk any other person you feel comfortable with. If you aren’t praying at all, it helps if you do have some sort of image in mind of who God is. The main point is, just start praying.
In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. - Romans 8:26 (CSB)
Get personal with God. I mean really personal. The more personal your prayer, the more powerful it becomes. Don’t settle for surface conversation like you have with strangers. Be vulnerable. Talk about your fears, share your happy moments, open up about loneliness or sadness. Whatever you do, open up to God and pray powerful prayers. He’s the one safe being you can do this with.
Praise Him. Sing a praise song if you need to. You were created to worship Him. This is why addictions exist. People were made to worship, and if you don’t choose to worship God, you will worship something. When you are intentional about worshipping God, you form this habit and it makes these steps easier as they go.
Thank Him. No matter whether you think He’s done anything for you or not, thank Him anyway. This method works with any relationship by the way. Any time you choose to purposefully search for positive attributes in any person, it helps you see that relationship in a positive light.
and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14 (CSB)
Humble yourself. I have taken to praying for everyone else first and saving any personal requests for God until the end of my prayer. This ensures that if I get interrupted, I have prioritized other people above myself.
Find A Quiet Place
This brings me to the last point. Get somewhere quiet. Sometimes God speaks in a still, small voice. You want to be able to hear God when He speaks. You also don’t want to risk interruption while talking to God.
Can you imagine asking God to wait on your face-to-face conversation to tell your dog to get off the couch? Me neither, don’t let trivial issues interrupt your prayer.
When I first started offering prayer to God, I was shown the prayer Jesus taught to His disciples. I memorized it to help me remember to cover all of the things that Jesus did in his sample prayer. As my prayer life has expanded, I have continued to include the elements that Jesus did in his example.
Jesus Christ Teaches Us To Pray
Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 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 do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. - Matthew 6:9-13 (CSB).
Most of us who had some experience in church growing up have heard this powerful prayer Jesus Christ prayed. Some people say you have to address God as your heavenly father, and some say you have to say in Jesus name, Amen to close a powerful prayer. If we truly follow the example above, Jesus didn't say any of that while pursuing God.
Let's break down Jesus' prayer to God to see what constitutes powerful prayers:
"Our Father in Heaven, your name be honored as holy.
Humble Yourself Before God
"Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
Humility, it's more than a sheepish or shy posture you take toward someone or something. True humility puts your desire lower than another. In fact, Jesus all but said our desires should be the last thing we seek. He definitely shows us that He was seeking the Father's will and showing a strong desire to have His Father's kingdom setup on Earth.
Make Your Requests Known to God
"Give us today, our daily bread."
If we are following Jesus' example, we should ask God for what we need. Notice Jesus didn't ask for a brand new chariot to move Him from city to city. He didn't request an all you can eat buffet, or an easier path through life. He asked for enough bread to last this day.
Jesus truly showed faith by asking not only for something God already told us he would provide, but he only asked for one day's ration. He wasn't looking for special offers from the Lord. He was asking for enough to last today.
Forgive Others and Seek God's Forgiveness
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Jesus asks God to forgive them as they forgive others. That's a conditional request. He doesn't say forgive us and help us to forgive others. He says forgive us because we have forgiven others. This portion of the prayer I feel is one of the more overlooked parts because it is hard for us to forgive people, especially when we feel they have done us wrong, and our anger is justified.
But Jesus knew that in order to have a strong prayer life, we needed to forgive other people. If we don't, our anger and hostility will boil over into our relationship with God and we will begin to ask the Lord to do harm to our enemies. We are called to love our enemies and pray for them.
Ask the Lord For Guidance
"And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
Jesus asks His Father for guidance. This is also something He says He will send the Holy Spirit for in John 14. Here though, Jesus specifically asks the Lord not to lead them into temptation, but deliver them from the evil one (Satan),
Note that Jesus does not ask the Lord not to tempt them. That is because the Lord does not tempt people. Rather, he allows temptation to come to test our own mettle. It serves as a diagnosis to show us what we need to work on and where we still have weakness in our spiritual lives.
Do I have to pray the Lord's prayer to be heard?
The short answer is no.
That is not to say that it is not good to pray the Lord's prayer. It is a powerful prayer that was given to us by Jesus himself. It is just the beginning of a strong prayer life though. When we take what Jesus gave us to talk to the Lord our God though, we can begin to use it to pray powerful prayers strong enough to move mountains.
While we're on the subject of what you must pray, let me address some other things. I have heard it said that the Holy Spirit won't deliver powerful prayers to the Lord unless they are closed with "in Jesus Name, Amen."
If you want to say "Dear God" or "Dear Lord" instead of "Heavenly Father", then I don't think the Lord our God will hear your prayer any differently. If you finish your prayer "in Jesus name, Amen" or if you just say "Amen", I don't think God will think you were praying to the evil one instead of His son, Jesus.