Q: I grew up in a church that always used printed or memorized prayers in its services, and I'm having a hard time learning to pray on my own. I even worry if it's wrong to try praying in our own words, because we might say something wrong and offend God. Is this a danger? - Mrs. S.L.
A: No, you shouldn't worry about saying something wrong in your prayers, because God wants us to come to Him in prayer, and He delights in the prayers of His people.
After all, if you are a parent, did you get angry with your children when they first tried to talk? Did you turn your back on them if their words weren't perfect, or their sentences were childish? No, of course you didn't. Instead, you encouraged them, and you were thrilled at their first words.
The same is true with God. God loves us, and He yearns for us to come to Him in prayer - even if our prayers aren't perfect! The Bible says, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear (or respect) him" (Psalm 103:13). And when we pray, we know that Jesus Christ - who is at the Father's right hand - is also praying for us, and His prayers are perfect.
How can you learn to pray? Pray just as if you were talking to a close friend of yours - because you are! Praise Him in your prayers ... confess your sins to Him in prayer ... seek His will in prayer ... and intercede for others in your prayers. The Bible says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).