Despite all our efforts, we often struggle in prayer. Not surprisingly, because we are frequently a mix of good motives and not-so-good desires. Well, I am anyway, and I cannot believe I am unique!
The followers of Jesus had the same problem. When asked by his disciples how to pray, he responded with what we now call the Lord's Prayer. This is the core of the Lord's Prayer, taken from the Bible:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
It is good to say this prayer each day - perhaps at the beginning or end of the time you have set aside to be with God. Personally, I love the traditional version of this prayer and use that, but whichever translation you use, it is a wonderful reminder, in a nutshell, of all we should be praying.
We can also learn much by the gospels stories of how Jesus prayed when alone with his father. Here is one which echoes that early request in the Lord's prayer:
He said, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'
How often do we simply pray for the things we believe we 'need'. Surely, it is for God to know our needs and for us simply to try to live in his ways? Isn't that how Jesus lived his life, right up to the final end? Do you agree?
Perhaps we sometimes expect prayer to be something we can just drop into, but it seems that even Jesus made significant efforts to establish his times of prayer.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed
How much more should we follow his example?
when did you last set half an hour aside to be in the presence of your God and to converse (and listen) to God?
If you haven't for a while, you might like to try being still with God and then recalling each of the phrases of the Lord's Prayer and mulling them over with God - taking as long as you like on each.