The Bible talks about prayer quite a bit. Prayer is simply talking to God, just like you were talking to anyone else. You can talk to God out loud, like you would to a friend, or you can just talk to him in your head. Either way, he hears you. Because Jesus is our conduit to God, we pray in Jesus' name, and we traditionally end our prayers with the word "Amen", which means "so be it." You don't need to follow any special formula for prayer; just say what's on your heart. Throughout your day, you can spontaneously talk to God at any time; that's prayer. Besides spontaneous prayers, having a daily prayer time is important. Prayer isn't a difficult thing, but like many things, it's more effective if you have a plan or a strategy. This page lists some pointers here to help you. FYI, if you're more of a visual learner, check out the movie War Room, which is all about the power of having a prayer strategy.
1. Why define a prayer strategy?
According to the Bible, God listens to and answers our prayers. If you're praying something along the lines of "for my mother", then what exactly are you praying for? For her health? For her finances? For her marriage? With no definition of what you're praying for, how will you ever see God's answers? By coming up with a prayer strategy that includes defining exactly what you're praying for in different areas of your life and the lives of others, your prayers can have a much more effective impact on the things you're praying for, for multiple reasons. For one, by praying for something specific it forces you to think about and really explore what it is you want. Additionally, when God answers your prayers you will be able to see His work, and this gives you a boost to your faith as well as giving you something else to thank and praise Him for.
2. Write it down
Start writing down each of these things as you do them. Your prayer strategy is going to eventually have lots of details, so writing it down will help you organize it so that it's easy to refer to and remember later on.
3. Define areas to pray over
Take some time and think about what's important in your life. Make a list of things that are important to you. It might be easiest to organize this list by subject, such as "career" or "health" or "relationships". You could also make a list of people who are important to you that you'd like to pray for. A side benefit of this step is that it makes you step back and evaluate what is really important to you in life, which allows you to focus on those things that really matter to you.
4. Get into specifics
Now that you've got your broad areas and subjects identified, it's time to drill down into what specifically you're asking for. If you're praying for your career, what about your career are you asking for? A raise? A promotion? Favor with your boss? Take the time to figure out what exactly you're asking God for.
5. Start praying according to your prayer strategy
Prayer is like a muscle. It gets stronger the more you use it. You may find that as you start praying using your prayer strategy that you will want to tailor some things or expand others. Hey, it's your prayer strategy, so how it evolves is up to you, but you will find that your prayers will become more focused and effective as you learn to use and refine your prayer strategy over time.
Remember that God is ALWAYS there, and according to Proverbs 15:29 and 1 Peter 3:12, God always hears the prayers of the righteous. That doesn't mean he is going to grant your every request, but he is listening, so if you're saved, you've got a direct line to the Big Guy. Even if you can't hear his voice, he is there. For you. If you're not saved, he promises to hear your prayer of salvation according to 1 John 1:9 and Romans 10:9, so head on over to our salvation page to learn more about it or go to a local church and find someone to talk to.
God is always there for you, even in your darkest times. Talk to Him.