If you’re reading this, let me start by saying congratulations, you want to grow closer to God, which is an awesome desire to have in this crazy, noisy world. And, let me also encourage you by relating a truth from a pastor named Matt Chandler: “The best way to learn to pray is to just pray.” It might feel odd or possibly fruitless trying to be more intentional in prayer, but keep at it, and the awkwardness goes away over time. Now, let’s talk about how to talk to God.
Psalm 8:4 says “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” This is a statement of praise, which is always a good way to open a prayer. If you’re struggling with finding a statement of praise, do what David did. Just before this, he praises God for the beauty of the moon and stars. Often, the best way to praise Him is to look at nature or the people around you and consider the impact or beauty of those people/things. Then, thank or compliment the Creator of those people/ things in your life.
Now growing closer with God, just like in any human relationship, means growing more intimate with Him, and the key for this goal is to be vulnerable. We often think that we have to dress things up and speak nicely and neatly to God because He’s God. But, as Jefferson Bethke beautifully says, “God desires our rawness and vulnerability.” Again, just like any serious relationship, you gotta share your scars with him. Your hurts, pains, desires, and needs. Sometimes this might mean admitting that you don’t desire Him enough, or that you desire something else more than Him. So here, I just encourage you to be messily honest about brokenness and ask for His help and forgiveness with these things.
Finally, praying for others. I’ve found this to be most difficult, because I either forget others’ problems or put my own above theirs. If you’re having trouble with this part, there are two solutions. One, Try writing others’ problems down in the Notes on your phone. This is a way for holding yourself accountable, and not forgetting others’ problems. And again, don’t hold back on telling Him everything about it, because He already knows about it anyway. Or two, pray with the person right then. There’s no forgetting a problem when you address it right there on the spot. Also, people really do appreciate prayer! It’s a real way to show care in a world full of greeting card clichés.
End with Amen, which means “Let it be so.” This way, you’re expressing your confidence in surrendering your requests to God, and trusting Him to do whatever is best in that situation, AKA “letting His will be done”. So you begin with praise and end with praise through your offering of trust.