What Does Prayer Look Like?
“Prayer can’t be mastered. Prayer always means submission. To pray is to willingly put ourselves in the unguarded, exposed position. There is no climb. There is no control. There is no mastery. There is only humility and hope.”
Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools: An Invitation to the Wonder and Mystery of Prayer
Today is the National Day of Prayer. It’s a time to pray over your community, leaders, friends, and family. It’s also a time to thank God for who he is and how he’s working in your life.
But prayer isn’t just something we should observe one day a year. It should be something we do every day without ceasing—not because we have to, but because we’re seeking God’s guidance in our lives and living in a state of gratitude.
So how should we approach prayer?
1. Prayer isn’t just asking for something. It’s an opportunity to praise and express our gratitude to God.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus starts by saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9).
Jesus opens his prayer with a statement of gratitude. Oftentimes, we find ourselves seeking God because we need something, but we shouldn’t just pray when we need something. We should praise God in our prayers.
Starting our prayers with gratitude reminds us that we are talking to the Creator of the world. He sees all things and yet he still makes time for us. Start with gratitude. Thank him for simply being who he is—our Savior.
2. Prayer is surrendering your desires to God and trusting him with the outcome.
Jesus continues by saying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
When you pray, are you praying for God’s will or your own? So many times, we long for control—whether it’s our schedule, our relationships, or our jobs. But the reality is, God sees the bigger picture, and he knows what is best for us. What’s best for us doesn’t always align with what we want.
Jesus also modeled this idea of surrender in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy. In fact, he pleaded with God for another way. But at the end of the day, Jesus surrendered to God’s will even when it didn’t align with what he wanted at the moment.
It’s okay to plead with God. It’s okay to verbalize your struggles, your hopes, and your dreams. But at the end of the day, surrender those things to God, trusting that his plans are greater than anything you could ask or imagine.
3. Prayer is a time of humility and acknowledging that you can’t rely on your own strength.
“Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
Bread was common in the Israelites’ diet. In the Old Testament, God provided manna each day for the Israelites in the desert. But Jesus’s in prayer, he wasn’t talking about actual bread. He was talking about spiritual bread.
This statement gives us a look into how we should approach God in prayer—with humility and dependence on him. In relying on God for your bread, you recognize that God is the one who sustains you and provides for you.
4. Prayer is a time of honesty.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
When you pray, confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. When you are open and honest with God about what you are struggling with, he will help you. And, most importantly, he will forgive you.
It’s okay to be real with God. He invites you to be honest with him. He is a just God, but he is also a forgiving God.
5. Prayer isn’t just talking to God; it’s also listening to him.
We have a relational God who wants to talk with us. The Bible says that God already knows what we need before we pray to him, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want us to come to him.
Prayer isn’t a one-sided conversation. It’s a time for you to speak, but it’s also a time for you to listen and be sensitive to God’s Spirit at work in your life. When you pray, be still in God’s presence.
Today, take time to pray to God. Praise him. Surrender to him. Approach him with humility. Rely on him to sustain you. Seek forgiveness and pray for others. Most importantly, be still in God’s presence and watch how he works in your life.
Kali Gibson is the editor-in-chief for So We Speak and a copywriter for the Youversion Bible App.