Prayer Requests and Learning How to Pray

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One Simple Truth That Will Transform Your Prayer Life

One Simple Truth That Will Transform Your Prayer Life

Prayer is one of the most important disciplines or activities you engage in as a Christian. Yet as much as we may talk about it and hopefully engage in it, I fully believe there is a truth about prayer that many people miss.

We spend a lot of time worrying if we are doing it right, saying the right words, even wondering if we are in the right position. While there is nothing wrong with thinking about these things, there is something greater and far more important when it comes to prayer. That one thing is relationship.

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Open praying hands, hoe to go through hard times

Prayer Is More Than a Transaction

For many people, the time to pray is when there is something they need. It usually goes like this: You don’t pray because there is no pressing need in your life. The need pops up and it moves you to pray. God faithfully meets the need. You revert back to not praying because there is no pressing need in your life. When the need disappears so does prayer.

When people approach prayer like this, prayer is simply no more than a transaction. It is a means to an end. “God I need something. You are the one who can provide it. So do what I need.” In this instance we treat prayer like a recipe book. You want to cook something. You find the recipe. You follow the recipe to cook the meal. You eat the meal. You put the recipe away and you forget about it until you want to make that meal again. When this happens, prayer is nothing more than a transaction. This is not what prayer is all about.

Prayer Is about Relationship

When Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6, the first two words he taught us to say is “Our Father.” This is the way we approach God. I heard a famous preacher say one time in regards to prayer that we are kingdom citizens, and as citizens we have the right to make demands of our king. While it is true we are kingdom citizens, that is not how we should approach God. That is another form of transactional prayer.

When you go to pray, don’t just think I am praying because I need to get something from God. Don’t get me wrong – that is part of prayer. It is right and proper to ask God for what you need. Just don’t make that the only reason for your prayer. When you do, then prayer becomes nothing more than a transaction.

You must remember that God is not just your king, more importantly God is your Father. This is the manner and relational banner that we should approach God with. A king-citizen relationship is not personal. A father-son or father-daughter relationship is. This is what you have.

Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Teach Us to Pray with Christina Patterson. You can find all the episodes at Here's Episode 1:

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Man ordering dinner at a fancy restaurant

Fine Dining vs. the Drive-Thru

If you have ever gone to a drive-thru to get a meal this is how it usually works. You pull up and place your order. You drive around to the first window and pay the cashier and then you drive to the next window to pick up your food. This is very quick and very impersonal. Most of these restaurants have timers to see how fast they can get you through the line. The shorter the time between when you place your order to when you get your food the better. This is how we often treat prayer. Impersonal. Transactional. Get in and get out.

I want to shift your thinking because the experience is far different when you go to a fine dining restaurant. You are usually greeted at the door and escorted to your seat. The server will come and introduce themselves to you. There are at least three courses but some may have as many as seven. The server checks to make sure everything is to your liking and you get to spend a good amount of time with the person you are with. There is usually conversation and the overall experience can last somewhere between 1-2 hours.

This is what prayer is supposed to be. I am not saying you have to spend two hours praying. I am saying that you don’t rush through the process to get to the place where you get what you want. When you do this, prayer moves from being transactional to being relational. This is the true heart of prayer.

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man eyes closed praying with Bible open on lap

The True Prize of Prayer

Some might tell you the true prize of prayer is getting what you want, but they would be wrong. Others might say the true prize of prayer is getting some brand-new revelation from God that no one else has. They would be wrong too. The true prize of prayer is God himself. If you remember when Jesus died on the cross something very interesting happened.

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51).

When this event happened, it signified the one thing we had been denied since Adam sinned. We now had access again to the very presence of God. Fellowship was restored. Communion was restored. Relationship was restored. This is the true prize of prayer.

You now have access to the very presence of God and can sit at his feet. You can sit and commune with your heavenly Father at any point of the day. You can pour your heart out and share your love with him. You can have fellowship with the living God. This same God who made the heavens and the earth. The one who is beautiful, holy, righteous, loving, and pure. This is the same God who wants you to come and spend time with him.

There is no doubt in my mind this is the true prize of prayer. If you miss this, then prayer becomes nothing more than a ritualistic exercise or a transactional experience. This is not what God desires nor what he intended. Yes, it is true God wants to meet your needs. Yes, it is true that God wants you to pour out your requests to him. But even greater than that, God wants you to desire him and his presence more than any of those things. This is what prayer is all about.

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Man bowing head in prayer

How Do You Make the Shift?

I want to make this practical and give you some suggestions to help you make this transformation in your prayer life. For this to work, you must ask yourself some difficult questions but make sure you give honest answers. Here are a few to get you started.

Do you only pray when you need something?

Do you even like praying?

Do you spend most of your time in prayer asking God for stuff?

Do you ever spend time in worship before you pray?

If you are going to transform your prayer life, then honesty to questions like these and others is how it will start. Beyond that here are three other things I would encourage you to do.

1 - Be patient – Remember it is not a drive-thru but fine dining. Set aside enough time where you don’t have to rush through it. I won’t tell you how much time but whatever amount you think is enough add ten minutes to it. It’s ok if you don’t use it all but have it available.

2 - Be praising – In my opinion the best place to begin in prayer is with praise and worship. The Bible says God inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3) which literally means he sits down in the praises of his people. If your desire is to enter God’s presence, praise and worship will get you there.

3 - Be present – By this I mean remove all distractions. You might need to turn off your phone or leave it in another room. You might need to leave the house or get up early when everyone is asleep. Whatever you must do, you want to be fully present because you value God’s presence and the time you are going to spend with him.

I know there are many things God has for you and many blessings he wants to bestow upon you. However, the greatest blessing is God himself. Don’t take that for granted. His heart is to be with you and it meant so much to him that he sent Jesus to die on the cross to make it possible. God desires relationship with you more than anything else and when you understand that simple truth, it will transform your prayer life.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit