“Oh God… I really don’t know how to pray. Please help me! I want to learn how to talk to You… Teach me and I promise You, I’ll learn!”
As a new baby Christian, I didn’t really know how to pray – how to talk to the One Who invaded my heart in 1986 and Who also sits in a heaven I’ve never seen. That can be very intimidating.
Where Do I Begin?
At first, I gave my prayer requests to those who knew how to pray out loud and who could say the right words, and I’d get in agreement with what they said. That worked for a while, but I longed in my heart to speak to God personally with my own words. I wanted to learn how to pray heart-felt prayers that God would hear and answer. I already knew the traditional repetitive prayers of The Our Father, Hail Mary and Act of Contrition. But somehow, those prayers didn’t seem passionate enough or personal or specific enough to change my tender heart or motivate me to receive answers to my prayers.
My Answer Has Arrived! So I Thought…
One day at church I noticed the posting of a Sunday School class that was being offered on the subject of prayer. Yippee! This could be the next step and an answer to my dilemma, I thought. So, I promptly signed up, and I still remember the first day of class that was held in a small anteroom between the large sanctuary and the main hallway. It wasn’t even a real classroom; but it didn’t need to be.
There were two other hungry lovers of prayer who attended with me, but I didn’t even notice what they looked like. This was the moment I had been waiting for and great anticipation flooded my heart to finally learn how to pray. It was as if I had a personal tutor appointed by God Himself!
I remember the teacher as she began the first class with a powerful visual on cardboard that marked me on Day One. She held up a large picture that illustrated God in heaven and a person on earth with a “lightning bolt” connecting the two together. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. That lightning bolt was referred to as the “prayer connection” between us and God. Of all the analogies to use, a lightning bolt was chosen – not to get electrocuted, but to demonstrate the power that can be present in prayer with God. That was it… I was sold! I wanted that power in prayer more than anything. I knew in my heart that the power would change me and my circumstances. I was eager to learn more.
My First Shot at Public Prayer!
While still a newbie in this wide heavenly world of prayer, I remember hoping that nobody would ever ask me to speak out loud in public because I still didn’t know the right words to say. It’s not fun talking in front of a group of people when your mind goes blank, and your tongue dries up, and you’re scrambling for words to say. You can feel so foolish, right?
However, the dreadful day finally came when the pastor of our church asked me to stand up in the sanctuary and pray for the guest missionaries who had come to speak. Oh no, I thought! Doesn’t he know that I don’t know all the right words to say yet, especially in public?! Although my heart was so full of love for God and His missionaries, when I opened my mouth all I could say was “God bless them” and maybe one other sentence, I really can’t remember. Lol. My heart swelled with passion, but I didn’t know how to express it in words.
I could tell my pastor was totally surprised in front of his special guests that his little flock didn’t know how to pray; so, he jumped right in and prayed for them himself. Well, that was all the awkwardness I could take! I knew God’s love and Word was in me – I just needed to learn how to get it out and express it better to God so that others could benefit too.
Jesus Knows How to Pray
I decided I needed another learning strategy. Who knows how to pray, I asked myself? Who can I ask now? I knew one person who could pray effectively, and I decided to go to Him. His name is Jesus. I discovered that there were already some prayers in the Bible already written out, inspired by the Holy Ghost no less! Why not start with those, I thought?
I wrote out the prayers from the Bible on 3×5 index cards and read them out loud in my own personal prayer time. Then I took the cards to the gym with me and read them aloud while I exercised on the Stairmaster. I put the names of my family and friends in them and had a great time praying and exercising at the same time. What a workout that was. Who says you can only pray in your prayer closet? I brought my closet with me to the gym, and I discovered that talking to God can be a traveling experience. He goes wherever I go!
We’re Making Progress!
The Lord provided more opportunities for me to take my learning to a whole new level. Early 6am morning prayer meetings started up in the small chapel of my church. This chapel room with its cushioned orange chairs used to be the original sanctuary and seated approximately 150 people. Yippee! I could learn more about prayer in those meetings.
So, I started to attend every meeting whenever the doors opened. Now I could listen to others pray and perhaps even learn from them. But listening to other people talk to God in a public setting was not what I thought it would be. I imagined people praying with power and declaring things from the Word of God, like I had been reading in my Bible at home in my private time. Remember I had the vision of the “lightning bolt” type prayers.
What I found was many precious people who loved to pray at 6am, but many who just sat silently in prayer, which was fine, but not what I was looking for. The other people who spoke out loud, made statements like, “if it be thy will” as they would “travail” and beg God to do something that I knew from His Word, He had already done… Things like, “Be with me, oh God,” “Please heal my neighbor, if it be thy will,” “Help me not to gossip Lord,” etc.
Now, I was certainly no seasoned prayer minister at this point, but I did recognize some unbelief when I heard it. Where was their confidence in declaring God’s will? It sounded to me like they were unsure that God would actually hear and answer them. Thank God for His light that had begun to shine in my heart. I was able to see that this type of praying was really opposite of these strong sure-footed confident prayers I had written on my 3×5 cards, so I continued reading and memorizing them.
And then one day, I mustered up enough courage to actually say them out loud in the prayer meeting without looking at the note cards! The Words of God, especially the prayers in Ephesians and Colossians, brought such a confidence to me and an excitement because they are really big prayers! When I would say these prayers in my kitchen and in my bathroom, I could feel my heart and mind lift and become clear and connected to something powerful. This is how God thinks! These are His words He wanted penned through Paul’s writings, and now I’m holding them on these little 3×5 cards in my hands… Wow! They were precious to me, and I carried them everywhere I went – to the gym, to the grocery store, to work… never left home without them!
My Heavenly Prayer Language
In 1989 my church had a women’s meeting in the same small chapel. I was hungry for the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues and had been seeking the experience for six months. Tonight, was my night to receive the person of the Holy Spirit I declared out loud. When the invitation came to those who wanted to receive, I quickly made my way to the front of the chapel. Many ladies laid their hands on me to receive my impartation, but nothing happened to me. Oh no, another missed opportunity was looming in the back of my mind.
The meeting had now ended, and people were cleaning up the room. Just then, the choir director sat next to me on the padded orange chairs and said, “The Lord wants me to pray for you to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, do you mind?” She gently placed one hand on my back and asked me to quiet my mind, and to listen and repeat the sounds I hear in my heart with my mouth.
With all the background noise from cleaning up, I struggled to listen inside and heard only one single-syllable word, that really sounded like babble. When I followed her loving guidance and spoke that one word, it was like an entire dam was broken and a heavenly language flowed out of me like water from a gushing fountain. It was foreign to my ears but beautiful! I started to sing in tongues too. That’s when we both knew that there was no mistake that this experience was real.
You see, I was in the choir, not because I could sing and keep a tune, but because I loved to praise God. The choir director would always place me in the group as far away from the microphone as possible because I could not sing in tune. Once I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I could sing on key! That was a miracle! She was amazed and I was so grateful to enjoy my new heavenly prayer language. I didn’t want to stop praying in tongues. I was so happy and giggly as if I was drunk in the spirit!
A Whole New Level of Prayer
A few weeks later I learned that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was not a one-time event. My pastor’s wife knew about my experience from the women’s meeting and mailed me a personal letter explaining the importance of practicing my new heavenly prayer language on a regular basis and encouraging me to do so. I was so grateful to her. I learned that praying in tongues helped to make my spirit strong; and I knew my spirit needed it!
Jude 20 says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” This helped me to experience more power and peace and brought my prayers to a whole new level. I no longer needed to rely solely on my own words from my own thoughts, but now I could pray and sing in the spirit and enjoy my relationship with God on a whole new dimension.
With the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and this season of singleness after a divorce, I focused on developing a more intimate prayer life with my Lord. I was wounded and felt vulnerable, so instead of dating other guys, I focused on my own relationship with God and started a prayer journal, I even held many prayer meetings in my home, and attended outside prayer meetings whenever I could. I was hungry for more of Him.
My Prayer Life Was Heating Up!
I recall a supernatural experience in my home that involved 5 people. We prayed in tongues for fifteen minutes or so and then, the Holy Spirit began showing me positive things about each person in the group that I was not aware of. One person was going to start a ministry, another person had many God-given talents, etc., so I just began to speak them out. It really edified the people and we all praised God!
Once, a dear friend of mine invited me to attend a prayer conference in Minnesota. Thousands of people were present who loved to pray! From that experience and from reading many books on prayer, I realized that prayer is more often “caught” than it is “taught.” The Lord began stirring up different anointings within me. One of them was prophetic song. As I would start to pray, I would spontaneously break out in a prophetic song and end up singing the prayer instead.
Another time, a warfare anointing came upon me and I interceded for others with great passion. There were other times when I was led by the Holy Spirit to move my hands and feet in prophetic movements. Sometimes the Holy Spirit had me softly singing in tongues fueling the direction of the prayer meeting. These supernatural experiences were exciting to me! I was joined with the God of heaven to see His Kingdom displayed on earth and that is a great vocation to have!
As I continue in my journey to develop greater intimacy with God, the Father, and a friendship with the Holy Spirit Who guides my prayer life, I invite you to join me. Let’s embark on this adventure together and bring our prayer lives to a whole new level!
4 thoughts on “How I Learned How to Pray (and it wasn’t easy)”
I love your enthusiasm to learn about prayer by studying powerful prayers in the Bible. Your story about receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is precious and can inspire others to receive it. Many blessings as you follow our humble Shepherd.
Thank you so much for the encouragement Steffani!
Hello Diane, I cannot express how thankful I am. This is my first time reading your work, because I most of the time was viewing your videos filming a missionary I support. I first read about this lighting bolt type of prayer and then I knew something good was there. I had done more “work” than letting the Holy Ghost to guide me, and I realized that my prayer in the Holy Ghost sometimes was inaccurate and did not bring the results promised in the bible. It is while reading your experience helped me to realize that I use my voice to cover the beautiful language I was given. I believe I had heard it once or twice, but when I spoke in prayer language a lot, it sounded totally different. And today my language has been restored.
Praise the Lord! I am so grateful that your prayer language has been restored! God is good. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us and let us know. We celebrate the good news with you. “We wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2) Thank you so much. Have a blessed day in the Lord!