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Christianity FAQ
How do I pray?
Written by Tom Ehrich
Prayer starts in listening. Listening to yourself—the stirrings of your mind, the aches and joys of your heart, questions not answered, answers not working. And listening to the world around you—loved ones, neighbors, strangers, newspaper headlines.

What you hear changes hour by hour, day by day. So, then, does your prayer. The key, I think, is a discipline: not a schedule, not a posture, not a formula, but an intention, a commitment to take your life and world seriously, and therefore a willingness to be touched and disturbed. That discipline might fall neatly into a routine, like the monastic cycle of “hours,” but probably not.

Having listened, what do you say? In my experience, the language of prayer comes naturally, like a child’s cry or lover’s sigh. The point isn’t eloquence, but honesty. A true word spoken truly will have its own eloquence.

To whom do you speak? God has planted in our hearts a spirit that knows God and cries out to God. We don’t have to learn about God before we pray. We will learn more about God in the course of praying.

What happens next? I believe God listens and responds. The nature of God’s response probably won’t follow a straight line: you pray for X, and God gives X. More likely, the fruits of prayer will be discernible over time in a life transformed.

How do you learn to listen? That may be your first prayer.