On Christian Life

How to Pray pt 1

When my wife and I go on a date, I try lots of different ways to keep the conversation going. We just celebrated our 14th anniversary this past week (woot woot!), and after so long, it’s hard to find a topic we haven’t discussed. We’ve had conversations about mundane topics like paint color and origami. We’ve had conversations about politics, relationships, work, parenting, life, and death. When you’ve been with the same person for so long, finding a new topic takes work.

When we’re out to dinner alone, rather than succumb to the temptation to immerse ourselves in our phones I look for lulls and then I spring into action.

What was your favorite toy when you were 10?

What were your parents like when you were young?

Have you ever squirted milk from your nose?

Often the questions don’t lead anywhere deep. Suddenly discovering my wife’s favorite toy when she was 10 was a rubber duck might make me laugh at her (or admire her bravery), but it won’t really change how I feel about her. The depth comes from the conversation not the talking points.

That’s why prayer is so important too. God isn’t just interested in changing your circumstances (and he is). God wants you to know him. He wants your deliberate time, not just the leftover time in your day when your head hits the pillow. Taking time with God must be a decision you make, not a happy accident. If you’re married, imagine what your marriage would look like if you only spoke with your spouse with the same effort you pray.

There are lots of ways to pray, and over the coming weeks I’ll give you some examples. I will take some time to explain, and then I’ll show you how it works in my own life.

This week I’ll show you the body prayer. This is a prayer that I picked up about a year ago and one that I use regularly. I give Rich Nathan at Columbus Vineyard credit for this one. A body prayer goes like this: start at the top of your body and use different parts of your body to inspire prayer. Just make sure to include more than just asking for things. Make sure you take time to thank God, praise God, and submit to God. Then as you move through the body, be inspired in those ways as you speak with him.

Here’s a short example of the body prayer:

God, thanks for a body that works. I’m so glad I can walk and talk. Not everyone can, Lord, so I’m really grateful that I can.

Spirit of God, would you give me the mind of Christ? I want to think holy thoughts. I want to think about my life in the way Jesus does. (Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 2:16)

God, would you give me the mouth of Jesus? I want the words that come out to praise you and bless others. Forgive me for swearing when I’m angry. (James 3:1-12, Luke 6:45)

Holy Spirit, would you give me ears to hear you? I want to hear your voice and know it’s you. I’m sorry that I don’t always pay attention. (John 10:3-4, Luke 8:18)

Jesus, would you give me your shoulders? I want to carry the burdens you’ve given me. I want to carry the cross today. I want to be strong when others need me to carry them. (Matthew 16:24, Galatians 6:2)

God, would you give me the hands of Jesus? He touched so many people that were untouchable. He healed sick people. Could I do that? Give me your hands, Lord so that when I pray for others they receive your healing. (Mark 10:16, Matthew 8:3)

Jesus, give me your guts. I want to be courageous like you. I want to face down my enemies with conviction and my destiny with abandon. I want to know your truth and feel compassion for others. Give me your guts, Lord. (Matthew 9:36, Psalm 27:14)

Holy Spirit, give me the knees of Jesus. I want to kneel and pray when life is hard. I want my knees to show a deep connection with you. (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12)

God, give me the feet of Jesus. I want to go where you send me. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 10:7-8)

Notice that I incorporated the elements I mentioned earlier.

Thank God – take time to be grateful.

Praise God – take time to tell him how awesome he is.

Submit to God – take time to honor what God wants from you and confess when you don’t give it to him.

A conversation about prayer wouldn’t be complete without discussing the wrong way to pray. The wrong way to pray is not doing it at all. Keep the conversation going, Friend. The Lord isn’t as concerned with the questions or the style. What he wants most is time with you.

A mentor wisely told me once, “The key to prayer is knowing that God doesn’t always change my circumstances, but he always changes me.”

Have you ever heard of the body prayer before? I’d love for you to try this out and let me know what your time with God was like. Please leave a comment below with your experience and thoughts.

I am a husband, a father and a follower of Christ. I have been an entrepreneur, a pastor and a politician. Through many hardships I have learned lessons about faith and life. I am also a contributing writer on faithbeyondfear.com. Follow me on Twitter @twelve2nds. If you want to contact me, write me at chip@chipmattis.com.

29 Comments

  • christy

    I’ve never heard of body prayer, either. Quite interesting. And nothing to carry around to remind you of the parts of it.

  • Heather Hart

    Oh Chip, I laughed out loud imagining you and your wife at dinner. And I thought my husband was a big kid…

    I have heard the body prayer before, but it’s been several years, and not this version. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed for Jesus to give me His guts… Maybe to give me strength for what’s ahead or fill me with His love… but I can honestly say I have never used the word “guts” in my prayers.

    • Chip Mattis

      Yeah! I was the same way. Guts is a simple word, but it seems to mean what I want to convey when I’m praying for the courage of Christ.
      And yes, I’m totally a big kid. I tell Jessie routinely that she has no one to blame but herself. She knew I was like this and married me anyway 🙂

  • Lisa Q

    Hi Chip! Congrats on 14 years of marriage. I’m going on 26 + years now! It’s so vital to the health of a marriage to really talk to each other, and really listen. I love how you equate that our life with Christ, too. We need to pray because we simply want to talk with Him and to listen. We need to do what you said here: “Taking time with God must be a decision you make, not a happy accident.” I could not agree more! I always picture God’s smile as I choose to spend time with him joyfully, not out of forced obedience. I think that must make Him smile! Anyways, word pictures are good and I like your body prayers. I think that helps us engage our minds in prayer. God bless you! Lisa Q

    • Chip Mattis

      That’s awesome, Lisa! I’m so in awe of men and women whose marriages don’t just survive but thrive. I want one.
      I love that you spend really good time with the Lord. He totally enjoys you. You’re his daughter. Why wouldn’t he enjoy you? He made you after all. Give the body prayer a chance, and hopefully it’ll be as life-giving to you as it’s been to me.

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks, Alynda! I’m glad you loved that. It was a painful truth I had to learn. I think I spent too much of my life stumbling into my relationship with God or relying on spontaneity. Now, I try to be faithful and diligent and committed. It’s way less romantic, but it feels more loving than accidentally spending time. It feels more like an investment. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Yvonne

    Happy anniversary and thank you for the beautiful image of communicating with your spouse instead of device time. I really enjoyed your description and verses in your body prayer, such a great idea. I am going to try adding this concept to my prayer life. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to this series.

    • Chip Mattis

      You’re so welcome, Yvonne. Thanks.
      It bothers me so much to see families out to dinner buried in their phones. My heart aches for them that they’re missing each other and their inches away. I don’t want to be like that. As a husband and father I want to be deliberate about quality time. And in that conviction, I want to be deliberate about spending time with God. He deserves it. He’s worthy of it and so much more.
      I’m glad you gleaned something from the post. Let me know how it goes!

  • karentfriday

    Chip, you always make me smile and usually laugh. I cracked up at the questions you ask your wife. But you make a valid point in how stale and not intimate our prayers and conversations with God are.

    The body prayer is a good idea. I have a husband prayer called from “head to toes” that is similar. And I’ve often thanked God for my eyesight, that I can hear, to have the mind of Christ, and so on. Yet, I love how you bring it to life with Scripture as I’m all about praying God’s Word over others and myself.

    Good, good stuff. And who doesn’t need to pray more or tips on how to pray! Thank you!

    • Chip Mattis

      Thank you, Karen! You’re really kind.
      You crack up now, but you should hear out conversations live 🙂 Jessie has all she can handle with me.
      Head to toes! That’s great. I’m so grateful that I have a body that works. When I was in one of my theology courses in college my professor told us that the Jews have a prayer they recite after peeing called the asher yatzar. It expresses thankfulness for good health. As I age, I’m increasingly thankful for all the the stuff that works (and still looks good 🙂 ). The Jews know their stuff.
      Thanks again for reading and for your encouragement. You’re such a great support, and I appreciate it.

  • Jennifer King

    “Imagine what your marriage would look like if you only spoke with your spouse with the same effort you pray.” Yikes, convicted. My prayer life is an area I really need to improve. I will be keeping up with your series! I’ve never heard of the body prayer before, but I like the idea of it and will be trying it today! Thanks Chip!

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennifer. Yeah! It was really new to me as well. That’s why I wanted to share it. It brings to mind all the ways I need to grow. It makes me think about my life constantly as I compare to Christ. It’s a humbling but empowering prayer.

    • Chip Mattis

      I’m so glad! We all need to reinforce the foundations of our faith sometimes. It’s like a tune up. It’s basic maintenance, but if you slack on it your car won’t perform at its peak. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • stephaniemgammon

    Chip, this is great. I was just asking God to show me new ways to relate to him in prayer. Thank you! I will be watching your upcoming posts closely.

  • Melinda Viergever Inman

    I didn’t know about the body prayer! Great idea! You made a great point about conversing with God in prayer, that if we devoted as much time to our spouses as we do to prayers we shoot up with our heads hit the pillow that our marriage relationships would surely be in trouble. My husband and I have been married 41 years. We’ve worked very hard to have an intimate and warm marriage with much communication. God is good to grow us bit by bit, more and more into one flesh in Christ! A great post, Chip!

  • Edna Davidsen

    Hi Chip!

    Congrats to you and your wife on the 14th anniversary 🙂

    Great perspective about actively choosing time with God. Those three parts you mentioned about the nature of our prayer life are essential.

    I had not heard of the body prayer before.

    Sincerely!
    Edna Davidsen

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks so much, Edna. I hope the body prayer is helpful to you. It’s really helped me. Also, with prayer in general, I hope it you’re able to find a greater intimacy with Jesus. I’m still growing…so I need it too. Thanks for reading and commenting, Edna.

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