How to Pray: A 6-Step Guide to Prayer

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“Prayer.” When you see that word, what thoughts or images come to mind? Does talking to God come easy to you? Or do you struggle to pray?

Knowing what to say to God doesn’t always feel easy, and sometimes, prayer gets weighed down by our misconceptions about what a conversation with God should look like.

“Pray then like this…”

2,000 years ago, Jesus taught His disciples to pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those
who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

MATTHEW 6:9-13

This is now a famous example on how to pray. But how do we apply it to our everyday 21st-century lives?

First, we need to understand how not to pray. Before teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told His disciples, “when you pray, pray to your Father in private…” and, “do not heap up empty phrases…for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

If God already knows what we need, then prayer isn’t simply about the words we say. If we’re praying to impress people, or if we’re treating prayer like a box to check, then we’re missing out on the power of prayer.

Prayer is, and always will be, a dynamic conversation with God. When we realize this, the Lord’s Prayer becomes a freeing framework that helps us talk to God every day.

Here’s a 6-step guide to prayer that can help:

  1. Refocus on God.
  2. “Our Father in heaven, holy is Your Name …”

    Inhale deeply and focus on these words: “Our Father in heaven.”

    Slowly exhale as you say: “Holy is Your name.”

    Repeat this several times, and pay attention to any aspects of God’s character that come to mind. Spend this time focusing on how great God is.

  1. Realign your will.
  2. “Your kingdom come …”

    God has always been in the process of carrying out His will on earth. So right now, reflect on this: when you align your will with God’s will, you are actively seeking His Kingdom.

    Quiet any noise around you, and ask God to show you how you can take part in doing His will today.

  1. Release your concerns.
  2. “Give us today the food we need …”

    Imagine holding your hands out in front of you, as if you want God to put something in them. As you give God your concerns, what does He give you in return?

    List your concerns, and say them one at a time. Each time you voice a concern, try asking God to, “give us this day our daily bread.”

    Sit with this exercise for as long as you need.

  1. Repent and respond.
  2. “And forgive us … as we forgive …”

    What are you holding onto that you need to lay down? Is there anything you need to confess right now? Maybe it’s a hurt you can’t let go of, a behavior you’re struggling to change, an addiction you haven’t conquered, or a mistake you keep making.

    God invites you to come as you are, and respond to Him. Tell him whatever is on your mind, then create space to hear from Him.

  1. Request God’s protection.
  2. “… deliver us from evil …”

    We’ve all been rescued from something. What has God rescued you from?

    Thank Him for His faithfulness, and let Him know where you need help. Consider praying on behalf of other people who may also need protection. Remember that even when situations seem hopeless, there is nothing God cannot do.

  1. Rejoice and reflect.
  2. Celebrate what God has done in your life, and look for ways to worship Him throughout your day.

    Then, spend a few minutes reflecting on this time with God. What has He shown you? Consider adding anything that stands out to your YouVersion Prayer List.

Did you enjoy this prayer guide? You can get more prayer content like this by using the new Guided Prayer experience inside your YouVersion App.

Try Guided Prayer

When we start to pray like Jesus did, we will start to experience intimacy with God like Jesus did. And when we let prayer shape the way we live, we start to realize that we can approach God at all times with confidence, vulnerability, and trust.

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How to Rest when You’re Called to Lead

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“… After he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone …”

MATTHEW 14:23

Just after Jesus miraculously fed (and preached to) over five thousand people, He went away by Himself to rest.

There were still people who needed healing. There were still sermons to be preached and people to be reached. But He intentionally stopped what He was doing, retreated to a remote place, and reconnected with His Father.

Jesus understood that in order to thrive in ministry, we need to regularly re-orient our lives around the One who calls us to minister.

This isn’t easy—and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Jesus modeled it repeatedly for His disciples. But a life without rest is not sustainable. Without it, we burn out, stress out, and, ironically, we start to lose our ability to fulfill the calling on our lives.

Work without rest leads to the death of creativity, productivity, and reliability. So if you want to serve others well, you need to learn how and when to get away and refocus.

Here are 3 ways church leaders can create rhythms of rest:

  1. Manage Your Time
  2. God is the giver of every resource you have. So one way to honor God with your resources is by placing guardrails around the time He’s given you.

    You can begin by taking an inventory of your time and creating daily timeblocks for rest. Structuring your day helps you prioritize what work urgently needs to get done, and what can wait. While guardrails may at first feel constricting, they will eventually give you the freedom to prioritize the work—and the relationships—that matter the most.

    God, I easily get so caught up in what I am doing that I forget to rest. I lose track of time because I haven’t managed it wisely. Please forgive me, and change me. Help me to manage my time well—for Your glory, and for my good. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

  1. Meditate on Scripture
  2. If you’re involved in church leadership, then you know how important it is to study God’s Word every day. But sometimes, it’s easy to confuse preparing for work with investing in your own spiritual growth.

    So if you haven’t already, get in the habit of scheduling daily or weekly sessions where you simply read God’s Word. Begin this time by asking God to reveal Himself to you, and then focus on letting His words speak into your life. Keep notes of anything He shows you, and continue to reflect on them throughout your day.

    God, thank You for helping me find rest in Your presence. I want that—and I need that. So right now, I surrender my expectations for what time in Your Word should look like. Please renew my mind, heal my heart, and give me the rest I need. Amen.

  1. Make Rest Memorable
  2. After God created the world, He purposely stepped back and enjoyed His creation. By doing this, God demonstrated that resting regularly can help us see that what He accomplishes through us truly is “good.”

    Consider setting aside a day each week to do something memorable that helps you rest. This could mean turning off your phone and going to a local park, or it could look like roadtripping to one of your favorite places with people you love. Practicing intentional rest will not only make your rest more meaningful, it will also give you a deeper appreciation for the work you do and the lives you impact.

    God, thank You for demonstrating what rest looks like. I’m not always great at stepping back, so please help me with this. Use my intentional times of rest to strengthen my relationships, renew my mind, and remind me of my calling. Amen.


Ultimately, if we do not create space in our lives to rest, we will run out of space to serve the people God has asked us to serve.

To help you reclaim some rest, we’ve partnered with Church Online Platform to create a three-day audio Plan called Reset After Easter. Consider completing this Plan with your church team, and find rest in God’s Word—together.

Rest After Easter

Start Plan

This week, commit to running your race well by committing to resting well. Trust God with your time and give yourself permission to step back from the work you love in order to love the One who called you to your work.

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How to make your time count:

Sunset over water

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

PSALM 139:23-24

Pause and take a deep breath. As you do so, reflect on last year. What has God done in your life since Easter 2020?

When you’re in the middle of a long season, it can be easy to forget what God is doing in the midst of your circumstances. That’s one of the reasons why reflecting on God’s Word is so important: it helps us slow down and remember that God is faithful in every season of life.

As you prepare for Resurrection Sunday, spend some intentional time reflecting on God’s faithfulness by studying the Verse of the Day.

Here are 3 ways you can do that:

If you have 5 minutes…

Open your Bible App, and look for the Verse of the Day. Before you start reading, ask God to make you aware of anything He wants to show you. Then, read through the verse slowly, paying close attention to any words that stand out to you.

Ask yourself: What does this verse reveal to me about God’s character? What is the main point of this passage? How can I apply this to my daily life?

End this time by asking God to help you reflect on this verse throughout your day.

If you have 15 minutes…

Once you’ve read through the Verse of the Day, tap “Compare Versions” and select 3-5 Bible versions you want to compare. Read through each version and pay attention to any language variations. Allow the differences to give you a broader understanding of the verse.

Ask yourself: How does each version approach the text? What do I learn about God by comparing versions? What words or phrases stand out to me?

Write down anything that God shows you, and then ask Him to help you apply this verse to your life.

If you have 30 minutes…

Spend the first five minutes bringing to mind any concerns or problems competing for your attention. Ask God to show you truths in His Word, then slowly read the Verse of the Day and compare versions.

After you’ve done this, type the verse reference into Discover to see related resources. Choose one resource to study as part of your reflection time.

Ask yourself: What perspective does this resource provide? How does it influence or confirm what God has been showing me through today’s verse? What is resonating with me, and how can I apply it to my life?

Once you’re done, write out 2-3 takeaways about the Scriptures you’ve studied. (You can even try this study method.)


Once you’ve finished your reflection time, spend a few minutes asking God to remind you throughout the day of all that you’ve learned. Repeat this process every day until Resurrection Sunday.

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Discover: A new way to search

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Search is now Discover

What does the Bible say about hope? Healing? Peace? Joy? Suffering? Now, you can do more than just search for a topic, you can discover everything about it.

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INTRODUCING

Discover

Find more of what you’re
searching for.

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With this update, find a library of
resources in one place.

Discover gives you a complete view of the content YouVersion offers. Simply search what you’re looking for, and we’ll help you explore Bible verses, Plans, Teaching Clips, Verse Images, and more.

Discover - Hope search

Not sure where to start?

Discover gives you immediate access to helpful content like this week’s Verse of the Day Teaching Clips, Trending Bible Plans, Featured Videos and more. Here’s a glimpse at what you will find with Discover:

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Verse of the Day Story Videos

View a selection of Verse of the Day
Teaching Clips.

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Answers for Every Emotion

Joyful? Frustrated?
Hopeful? Stressed?
Find relevant, helpful content no
matter how you feel.

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Trending Plans

Explore what Plans and topics are most popular with the YouVersion Community today.

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Your Favorite Bible Teachers

Search for a speaker or ministry and get all their Bible Plans and Videos in one place.

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A Personalized List of Content

See auto-curated suggestions based on the content you like the most.

Discover … more.

To start using Discover, update your YouVersion Bible App and then tap on the Discover icon (Discover icon). As you type, Discover will start auto populating suggestions. You can also tap the search icon again when you’re ready to see all your search results.

Check for Update

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

JAMES 4:8

Revamp your wake-up routine

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Start Today with a Fresh Habit

When you wake up, what is the first thing you do? Are you an email checker? Social media scroller? A “just ten more minutes” sleeper? Or maybe you’re that person who’s happy and chipper before their first cup of coffee.

Whatever your wake-up routine looks like, how you begin each day impacts your mood and mindset. So before you do anything else, get into the habit of fixing your mind on what matters most.

Start your day with Verse of the Day Stories, and make space for God to speak to you through reflection and prayer.

Here are 3 ways you and your family can use this feature to listen to God’s Word:

  1. Open your YouVersion Bible App and look for the Stories icon at the top of your Home page. Spend a few minutes on each Story screen, and use those cards as a launching point for reflecting on Scripture.

    Open Verse of the Day Stories

  2. If there are any preteens in your life, help them develop a relationship with God that’s their own by activating Kids Bible Experience in your Bible App Settings. Using the same format as Verse of the Day Stories, this feature contains content curated with preteens in mind.

    Activate Kids Bible Experience

  3. If you prefer listening to the Bible, get the daily Story read to you on your favorite voice device. Just start with the same “Ok Google…” or “Alexa…” that you use with any other voice command.

    Learn More about YouVersion for Voice