Learning to Pray
This lesson is available to read online or if you prefer, you may download a notepad file to review and print at your convenience.
To begin this course you
need the following supplies:
A journal (fancy or plain isn’t important, so long as it’s something
you enjoy writing in.)
A pen or pencil that is comfortable for you to use.
If you prefer not to write, use a word processing program on your
computer to journal, or one of the available diary software programs.
An open heart and mind.
A strong desire to please God!
Our first lesson involves making sure your heart is pure, and prepared to pray for yourself and others by confessing sin in our lives. See the following verses from 1 John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (ASV) We all have sins to confess, so don’t be discouraged when you realize there is sin in your life! We all have made mistakes—it’s what we do when we see the sin that is even more important than actually committing the sin. The good news is when we repent for our sins, they are forgiven. They also lose their power when they are confessed.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some examples of what I think of as “sneaky sins.” No, you won't find these on the list of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1—17), but they are sin nonetheless, and need to be addressed:
1 Peter 3:7, “Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with (your wives) according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.” ASV
Mark 7:6, “And he said unto them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, But their heart is far from me.” ASV
Mark 11:25, “And whensoever ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any one; that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” ASV
Matthew 23:12, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.” ASV
Psalm 10:17, “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:” KJV
7:1-5, “1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with
what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's
eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of
thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then
shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
Also see Luke 6:37, “And judge not: and you shall not be judged: and
condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: release, and ye shall be
If none of the above apply to you, and you can’t think of any sins, ask God to reveal any sin in your life. He may remind you of when you “accidentally” forgot to pay for the bag of dog food on the bottom of your grocery cart, or when you constantly cut off other drivers in traffic, or other seemingly insignificant things. Don’t just dismiss them! If He is bringing them to your mind, they must be important to God! There aren’t different levels of sin—sin is sin. Repent for stealing that dog food or thinking you are more important than those other drivers you cut off, or whatever the case is. Do anything the Father may tell you to do to resolve the sin—apologize to someone you have mistreated, pay for the stolen dog food, or whatever! Remember, we are cleaning out your heart to prepare you to be an effective pray—er! This is the first step, and possibly the most important.
The next step is to pray, asking God to give you a spirit prepared and eager to do His will. Read this beautiful prayer of King David in Psalms 51:10-13, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” (ASV) I highly recommend you pray this prayer, if you are at a loss for your own words.
You may decide to journal the experience of confessing your sins, as it is a good way to remind yourself to keep your heart pure. Or, you may not journal the experience. But, I am a firm believer in the benefits of keeping a journal, so I highly recommend it!
download the notepad version here
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