wikiHow to Pray Effectively

Three Parts:Making Room for PrayerKnowing What to SayDeveloping Your Prayer Habits

There is no one way to pray, but learning the basics of prayer doesn't need to take a lifetime to master. If you want to make prayer a part of your life, you can learn to make room. Learn how to speak to the god in whom you believe, and how to make prayer a part of your daily life.

Part 1
Making Room for Prayer

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    Find a quiet space. If you want to get started praying effectively, all you need is some time and some peace and quiet. Whether you're at home or in public, find a nice comfortable place to sit quietly for a few minutes and center yourself. That's all you need.
    • Can't find a time-out from your hectic schedule? You don't need a perfectly serene meditation room to pray effectively, though it helps some of us to be centered and calm. But you can pray anywhere, anytime, in any kind of environment. A quick prayer in the middle of a hectic work shift? Make it happen. A shout of praise after you score a touchdown? Good call. Driving down the highway during rush-hour? Just as long as you drive safely.
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    Pray in whatever way feels natural. In some religions, it's common to prostrate yourself and touch your head to the ground during prayer. In others, sitting in the lotus position is essential to meditation and prayer. In others, raising your hand and rejoicing loudly is sometimes common. But there's no one way to pray except the way in which you feel the most comfortable communicating with your god.
    • If it helps to speak out loud, go ahead and do it. If you'd rather keep your prayers to yourself, that's perfectly fine too. It helps some practitioners to bow their heads and close their eyes during prayer, but it's also perfectly fine to leave your eyes open.
    • Speak normally. Prayer doesn't need to involve a lot of "thou" "thee" or "thines." The all-knowing, all-feeling being that you worship is smart enough to understand your language, whatever that language is.
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    Set aside some time each day. Prayer is a practice, a way of life. If you want to start praying effectively, try to set some time aside each day to pray. Even a few minutes each day can make a difference. Some common times for prayer include:
    • Before meals
    • Before sleep
    • After waking
    • During idle time
    • During stressful moments
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    Talk to a religious advisor. Learning more about prayer from a respected elder or experienced member of your religion can be quite helpful in learning the style and the substance that goes into prayer. Pray together and learn more. Learn the traditional prayers used in your religion, as well as ways to incorporate more informal prayers into your daily routine. Make time for prayer with others.

Part 2
Knowing What to Say

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    Confess. A common aspect of many prayer traditions involves confronting your personal transgressions, guilt, and sins to your higher power as a means of atonement. In other words, if you're feeling guilty about something, prayer is an excellent opportunity to get it off your chest.
    • You don't need to make excuses for your actions or try to explain yourself. Just confront the things that you've done that you're feeling guilty about. What would you like to change about yourself? What would you like to change about your life?
    • Ask for forgiveness. Giving up some of yourself to a higher power can be a big challenge, and an emotional experience for many people. It can be humbling to ask for forgiveness, or to admit that you need help, but it's also one of the most important parts of prayer.
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    Express your thanks and gratitude. Another important part of prayer for many believers is to give thanks. Think about the things you have and how fortunate you are to be alive in the world. Even if you're struggling, or feeling down, focusing on the things you're thankful for can be a good way of bringing yourself back up.
    • If it helps, come up with a list and keep it by your bedside, or on your table to reference when you pray. List the things you're thankful for.
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    Ask for protection and guidance. Many people pray to their god for protection, guidance, and wisdom. Many people need help. If you feel that you're struggling in the world and want to lean on your god, do it in prayer.
    • Try to stay focused on your feelings and your emotions, not on the specific details. You're not praying to ask god to strike down your boss, who works you too hard. You're praying for protection, for strength, and for guidance. Your asking for help.
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    Focus only on what is important. Prayer isn't a request line. Praying to ask for a bigger paycheck, a new car, or some rollerblades isn't the purpose of prayer, and might even be considered insulting or blasphemous in some cultures. The purpose of prayer is not to receive material goods. The purpose of prayer is to develop a personal relationship with your god.
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    Recite the traditional prayers in your religion. Many religions have a detailed series of specific prayers to use for specific occasions. A Catholic may recite the "Hail Mary" several times a day, while a Protestant may
    • Learn the traditions of your religion when you pray during formal worship services. Again, there's no one way, but it helps the flow of the service if you understand basically when it's time to participate in a call and response, when it's time to kneel, and other ritualized prayer activities.

Part 3
Developing Your Prayer Habits

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    Develop the correct attitude. Generally, prayer is a way of centering yourself and focusing your attention on communicating with the higher power you believe in. Some religions have very ritualized methods of prayer, while others are more informal. Regardless of your religion, however, the most important aspect of prayer is developing the correct attitude.
    • Be humbled. Again, prayer isn't like writing to an advice column, or making withdrawals from a bank. Remember who you're talking to, and who you're opening yourself up to. Be respectful and speak with humility.
    • Don't try to feel god doing anything while you pray, and don't try to have an "experience." The loudest in the room is not the strongest, and by no means is the quietest the most wise. If you feel emotional, that's fine, but you don't need to be taken in by dramatic displays of "devotion."
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    Know how to listen. Seldom will the clouds part and a booming voice will drop a new iPad into your life. That's not how prayer works. Try to stay aware of subtle changes in your life and opportunities that present themselves. If you ask for guidance with a new job, don't expect that a mysterious letter will show up under your door five minutes later with explicit instructions. Watch out for new acquaintances, opportunities to shine in the way you shine best, and stay strong. Have the faith that you'll see the right path in prayer.
    • Even if you're a devout believer, you're still the one with the free will to choose your own path. You're the one who's in charge of your own life, and it'll be your job to make the right decision. If you asked for a job, go look for one. If you asked for your children to behave better, teach them to do so.
    • Prayer is an effective tool for many people, but it's also not an excuse for avoiding making plans. You still have to live your life. Not writing a will when you're sick because "God will provide" is being irresponsible. Not finding work to feed your family because you're "praying for food" is a misunderstanding of prayer.
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    Pray with others. Praying together can be a powerful experience. Whether you go to church to pray or want to hold informal prayer groups in your own home or elsewhere, getting together to worship your god is an essential part of the experience of belief. You can accomplish a lot together.
    • It's also common to make "prayer requests" in some churches, when some people are going through rough patches. If a loved one is sick, you might reach out to others to pray together. Find others through your church or in your area who pray regularly.
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    Develop a habit of prayer. Make prayer a part of your life. Stay in touch with the higher power in whom you believe and return to prayer daily. Whenever and however you choose to pray, if you want to pray effectively it needs to be a regular part of your life.
    • If you haven't prayed for a while, don't be afraid to start again. It's like riding a bike–you may feel a little shaky at first, but you've still got it in there. Try again.


  • Read the primary religious texts of your religion of choice. Prayer and practices work differently across religions.


  • Don't use prayer to ask for material goods.

Article Info

Categories: Faith and Belief