Learn How To Pray

"To God, the most eloquent prayer is the silent, earnest, heart-felt petition that comes from a broken and contrite heart. Such is the language of the soul who feels its destitution and recognizes the merits of Jesus."


In this brief, previously unpublished, manuscript, key concepts are shared that will greatly improve your prayer life.

Learn How To Pray

Ellen G. White
We need to understand how to pray aright. Many do not realize what prayer means. In the family and in the church the true character of prayer should be taught as it was taught by Christ. A careful study of the prayer that Jesus gave His disciples would be of benefit to us. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 1

In our prayers we are not to preach a sermon to the Lord. We need not tell Him the history of our lives. We can tell Him nothing with which He is not acquainted. He knows our inmost thoughts. Every secret is open before Him. Nothing can be hid from Him. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 2

High-flown language is inappropriate in prayer, whether the prayer be offered in the pulpit, in the family circle, or in secret. The one who offers prayer in public should use simple language, that others may understand what he says and unite with his petition. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 3

The effectiveness of prayer is not determined by its length. A prayer indited by the Spirit of God will not be drawn out to a great length by vain repetitions, but will be short, simple, and pointed. To God, the most eloquent prayer is the silent, earnest, heart-felt petition that comes from a broken and contrite heart. Such is the language of the soul who feels its destitution and recognizes the merits of Jesus. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 4

The Pharisees, standing in conspicuous places, made long prayers, but God did not accept these prayers. Christ declared that those who offered them were hypocrites. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 5

Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Matthew 18:20.] God hears the prayers offered in the family circle if they come from devoted hearts. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 6

Do not neglect secret prayer. “Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” [Matthew 6:6.] 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 7

We are not to be so overwhelmed by the thought of our sins and errors that we shall cease to pray. Some realize their great weakness and sin, and become discouraged. Satan casts his dark shadow between them and the Lord Jesus, their atoning Sacrifice. They say, “It is useless for me to pray. My prayers are so mingled with evil thoughts that the Lord will not hear them.” These suggestions are from Satan. In His humanity, Christ met and resisted this temptation, and He knows how to succor those who are thus tempted. In our behalf “He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.” [Hebrews 5:7.] Many, not understanding that their doubts come from Satan, become faint-hearted and are defeated in the conflict. Because your thoughts are evil, do not cease to pray. If we could in our own wisdom and strength pray aright, we could also live aright and would need no atoning sacrifice. But imperfection is upon all humanity. Educate and train the mind, that you may in simplicity tell the Lord what you need. As you offer your petitions to God seeking for forgiveness and pardon, a purer, holier atmosphere will surround your soul. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 8

All prayer is to be addressed to God. Christ has told us distinctly to whom we are to pray. He points us to God, our heavenly Father. We are to ask of Him those things that we need, as a child asks bread of its parents. Jesus says, “If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” [Matthew 7:11.] 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 9

We are not to offer prayer to any human being. Human beings are finite and erring like ourselves. Christ has given nobility and grandeur to the human soul by the infinite price He paid for it. No human being is to interpose between God and the purchase of Christ’s blood. No human being is to pray to any other human being. Christ has brought the souls for whom He has died in close contact with God Himself. Then let the needy soul come to God, addressing Him in the words, Our Father, which art in heaven. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 10

We are to pray in the name of Christ, our Mediator. Our petitions are of value only as they are offered in His name. He has bridged the gulf that sin has made. By His atoning sacrifice, He has bound to Himself and to His Father those who believe in Him. His is the only name given under heaven whereby we must be saved. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 11

Prayer is not an expiation for sin. It is not a penance. We need not come to God as condemned criminals; for Christ has paid the penalty of our transgression. He has made an atonement for us. His blood can cleanse from sin. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 12

The prayers that come from sincere, humble hearts are heard by God, wherever they may be uttered. If placed in the golden censer of the Saviour’s merits and breathed by the Spirit of Christ, they will surely be answered. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 13

Every blessing we enjoy, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the bread we eat to sustain life are as surely purchased for us by the Saviour’s sacrifice as is the crown of life that will be bestowed upon the overcomer. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 14

When you pray for temporal blessings, remember that the Lord may see that it is not for your good or for His glory to give you just what you desire. But He will answer your prayer, giving you just what is best for you. When Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, the Lord answered the prayer, not by removing the thorn, but by giving him strength to bear the trial. “My grace,” said He, “is sufficient for thee.” Paul rejoiced at this answer to his prayer, declaring, “Most gladly therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” [2 Corinthians 12:7-9.] When the sick pray for recovery to health, the Lord does not always answer their prayer in just the way they desire. But even though they may not immediately be healed, He will give them that which is of more value—grace to bear their sickness. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 15

Every promise in the Word of God is for us. In your prayers, present the pledged Word of Jehovah, and by faith claim His promises. His Word is the assurance that if you ask in faith, you will receive all spiritual blessings. God has given you this promise. Continue to ask, and you will receive exceeding abundantly above all that ye ask or think. Educate yourself to have unlimited confidence in God. Cast all your care upon Him. Wait patiently for Him, and He will bring it to pass. 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 16

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” [James 1:5, 6.] 18LtMs, Ms 49, 1903, par. 17—Mrs. Ellen G. White