There are a lot of questions that I get asked every year about this subject, so I thought I would give my Top 10 on the subject:
10. With Confidence. “Boldly I approach the throne” is intended within the context of family. God is overwhelming in every aspect, but he’s my Daddy; So I can talk to him with confidence that he hears my prayers and cares about them.
9. With Humility. Don’t get so caught up in the confidence part that you forget to whom you are speaking! The Ancient of Days whose days are as a thousand years, who creates worlds with words and defeats Satan just by showing up. The Alpha and Omega, the Bright and Morning Star, the Judge and Healer. I could go on, but just remember that you are not His equal.
8. With Respect. This is a natural combination of the previous two. He is worthy of your respect, you are not speaking to a peer. Growing up in the South, we learned to call adults with Mr., Mrs. or Miss; and to say, “Sir” and “Ma’am”. It is a way of stating your respect verbally. Using phrases like, “Lord” are appropriate…
7. With Silence. Repeating “Lord” 82 times in a five minute prayer defeats the purpose of the term. It is no longer a term of respect, it is a filler to give you time to think that has no greater significance than, “um” or “uh”. If you can’t think of the next thing to say, then be quiet for a while. Who knows, maybe He’ll say something to you!
6. With Sincerity. You are literally speaking to the One who knows every thought you have had or will ever have. Faking it is just stupid! Be honest. Be real. Who are you trying to impress anyway? Express yourself, not the self you think you should appear to be.
5. With Simplicity. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, it wasn’t with any flowery phrases or powerful prose. Ask for what you need, thank Him for what you have and seek His will for your life. No redactions necessary.
4. Without “Religionese”. Listening to some people pray you would swear you have to learn a new language. People suddenly start using words and phrases from the year 1611 that they never use any other time. Not only does this come off as fake, but as showy and makes new believers feel even more awkward and inept when it comes to praying.
3. With Brevity. If I take my time and read with meaning the Lord’s Prayer…it consistently takes me 27 seconds. That’s it. If you want to pray a marathon, that’s fine, but our Lord only needed 27 seconds.
2. With God. Even if you are praying aloud with other Christians, you are supposed to be talking to God…not them. Don’t preach at them, don’t teach them, don’t speak to them. Speak to God.
1. With Submission. Remember that “to pray” literally means “to ask”. You are making a request. It is not a demand. God chooses His response. We cannot force Him to do anything. After all, if we could force His hand, how strong could He be?
There are some obvious other entries: With Faith, With Persistence, With Courage, etc.; but these seem to me to be the big ones that get us into trouble.