These are prayers to the God who is made known to us through Jesus Christ.
When you’re beginning to connect with God for the first time in a long time, just say it straight. He already knows anyway, so lay it out there, describing your situation in honesty. (Though many of the psalms are psalms of praise, some of them, like Psalm 3, start with an honest laying out of the problem.)
- God, I’m angry. I’m angry about the cruelty I endured at the hands of people who pretended to be good Christians, and I’m angry that nobody at church or anywhere else in my life noticed or seemed to care.
- God, I’m confused. I don’t even know what’s right or wrong anymore.
- God, I’m desperate. I never thought I’d be in a situation like this one. I’m scared.
You may have other thoughts you can include that describe the current state of your soul.
Second, expressing your needs and desires
Then, well, you’re praying for a reason . . . it’s because of something you want. You want things to be different at the deepest level. (Many of the people who came to Jesus while He was on earth came because of a deep need or desire. Many of their stories are in the gospels.)
So you can speak your deepest needs and desires. They might look something like this:
- God, I want to have a purpose for living.
- God, I need to be able to think straight.
- God, I need to see that You’re real and that You’re good.
- God, I need to be loved.
You’ll have other deep soul needs and desires that you want to express to Him.
Third, asking for help
Then, the reason you want to pray is because you want to ask Him to do something about it. He describes Himself in the Bible as a God of love who longs to rescue and heal those who draw near to Him. Ezekiel 34 shows how angry He is at the shepherds who devour the sheep, and how He will be the Good Shepherd to His own flock, meaning those who call out to Him for rescue. When you read the gospels (I recommend starting with Mark and then reading John), you’ll get to see some inside glimpses of what Jesus is really like, what kind of Rescuer He really is.
This rescue can become true for anyone, no matter what, through the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us on the cross (as Galatians 1:4 and I Timothy 2:6 tell) and rose again for us so that we could be made right with God (as Romans 4:25 tells) and give us power over sin and death, as we read in I Corinthians 15:54-57.
Romans 10:13 proclaims that anyone who calls out to the Lord in His Name can be rescued.
So this part of your prayer, the part asking for His intervention, could look something like this:
- God, will you please come into my life and rescue me?
- Lord Jesus, I really need a Shepherd like You’ve said You are (in John 10 and elsewhere).
- Jesus, the gospels show that You want to help people. I’m one of those who need help.
You may have some specific situations that you need rescue from and may want to talk to Him about that.
But there’s another part.
Jesus isn’t a genie in a lamp to appear and whisk people out of their hardships only to set them back down and leave them on their own again. He is a life-transformer, through the power of His Holy Spirit that He wants to give to all those who draw near to Him (as all of the book of Romans explains, but perhaps especially chapter 8).
This is not about giving you a set of rules to live by—after all, He has said that no list of accomplishments is going to impress Him. (In fact, Jesus’ most scathing words, like those in Matthew 23:13 and following, were for the religious leaders who were stellar rule-followers.)
He wants you to know Him personally and experientially, as Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:14-21.
He wants you in His family. He wants to love you as a good Father, and He wants you to love Him as a trusting child, as He describes in Romans 8:15.
This part can be very hard, I know. If your trust has been destroyed through massive betrayal, it can be exceedingly hard to ever trust again. My heart goes out to you about this part.
So I’m praying for you that you’ll be able to take the next step, the step of belonging. There’s no special “right way” to pray it, but it might look something like this.
- Lord Jesus, will You bring me into Your family?
- Jesus, will You wash me clean from my sin, the way you promised?
- Jesus, I want to have You with me always, loving me and guiding me. Will You do that?
In John 6:37 He promised that no one who comes to Him will be cast out.
The battle, the Truth
You may hear voices that tell you you’re a fool to give your life to Jesus, perhaps that if you do you’ll end up like the evil people who hurt you who pretended to be Christians.
But this is not what our God promises to those who approach Him, and He is a God who keeps His promises.
There is so very much wrong with what false Christians have said and done to keep their victims in places of bondage, like replacing Jesus and the Holy Spirit with their manmade rules and isolated Scripture verses taken out of context. (These are things I try to address often on my blog.)
But here’s what’s true about Jesus (with links to Scriptures):
Jesus is the “Word of God made flesh,” who came to earth and died in your place. He is the Victorious One who rose again from the dead. He is the one who accomplished all your salvation from sin and shame. He is the Savior who calls you specifically to trust in Himself to be your Rescuer.
The ongoing prayer
As you continue to seek to pray and get to know God, your prayers might sometimes follow this same pattern: honesty, desire, asking for intervention, and belonging.
These prayers are good and approriate for someone who hasn’t prayed in a long time, but they aren’t the only way to pray. As you follow the Lord and learn about Him through His Word and His Spirit, as you see Him more clearly, an outflowing of praise and gratitude and adoration will spring naturally from your soul. There are many psalms and other Scriptures to reflect this new joyful feeling.
As you continue to trust Him and He brings about natural and good changes in you and your desires, you’ll want to pray for others, that they’ll know His love too.
And as you grow in awareness of the spiritual battles you face, you can also pray with a warfare mindset. Eventually I’ll be posting my own warfare prayer and talking about that more. But that’s for later.
If you’re reading this, please know that I’m praying for you, confident that as you ask Him to, our good God will show you who He really is, who you really are, and who you are meant to be.
That’s my prayer for you, in 2018, and beyond.
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.