Paul is telling us here that we can pray about everything, especially when we’re anxious. Unless you’re a veteran prayer warrior, prayer might seem like a very mysterious and even frightening undertaking. Maybe you’re accustomed to written, formal prayers. Perhaps you’ve never prayed. You’re not sure how to pray and the last thing you want is to be called on to pray aloud. It’s common to worry that we’re not saying the right words or that the people listening to us pray will think our prayers are strange. Don’t be anxious. Let’s look at the different aspects of prayer and hopefully you will see how prayer will lead you to more intimacy with Christ.
Prayer is both simple and complex. Prayer is simple because it’s just talking to God the same way we talk to each other. We don’t have to say His name over and over or talk loudly and emotionally to get Him to hear us. He is ever-present and wants to communicate with us more than we can imagine. There are no special formulas, no exact patterns or sacred times. We can pray anytime, anywhere, because prayer can be done silently within our minds. We can pray with others, aloud or silently. Jesus wants to hear our concerns. He loves to hear our thanks and our requests. Supplication means we ask humbly.
On the other hand, prayer can seem complex, not only because we worry about how to do it correctly, but we worry that we won’t get the answers for which we hope and desire. God answers every single prayer—He says either, “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.” Our problems arise when we don’t get a quick, “Yes.” We feel like we did not pray correctly—or that God doesn’t care. When we don’t get what we hoped for at the timing we wanted, we have to trust Him and walk by faith in His goodness—regardless of the answer. He is God. He knows best. He knows the whole picture.
Recently I had a short illness that made it hard to stand up or walk. It came on suddenly without warning and I wondered, “What if this happens again, out of the blue, while I’m driving? What if I have a grandchild in the car?” I started to feel anxious. I turned inside to Jesus, and knowing He does not want me to live by fear, I agreed with Him by saying, “I refuse to live by fear! I will not keep stirring this in my mind. You have not given me a spirit of fear.” (Colossians 3:15; II Timothy 1:7; I John 4:18) I took a deep breath, did the chest-tapping exercise, and thanked Jesus that He is in control of all that comes into my life and all my loved ones as well. (Matthew 28:18) Now when the thoughts return, I refuse them again.
Where are you on the topic of prayer? Do you feel comfortable talking to God silently? Are you able to pray aloud in front of others? What are you feeling anxious about these days? Talk to Jesus about anything and everything. Don’t worry whether your words and form are correct. Just talk to Him like you do your best friend. If you know a “veteran prayer warrior,” ask him or her to help you learn to pray aloud.