Praying to Jesus: What Is the Proper Way to Pray?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the proper way to pray to Jesus? Is there a prayer formula that guarantees your prayer gets heard?

Praying to Jesus is a manifestation of energy—you can release spiritual energy through the mechanism of prayer. In his book The Power of Positive Thinking, pastor Norman Vincent Peale advises experimenting with different methods of praying. The idea is to find the method that works for you—that helps you open your mind to God, and let God’s power flow into your life. 

Here is what Peale has to say on praying.

The Power of Prayer

Praying to Jesus can be a source of great power, helping to change your life positively, tapping forces and strength that aren’t normally available to you. Prayer can even restore physical health and well-being and is used by therapists and other practitioners to help others. 

Prayer power can help you feel youthful energy as you age, keep your spirits up, send you out each morning refreshed and renewed, guide you in solving problems, help you react properly to situations around you, and release your inner power.

How to Pray

Perhaps you haven’t had this kind of experience with prayer. You may associate it only with religion and not creating change in your life. If so, understand that there is a scientific side to prayer, with different patterns and formulas that you can apply to get better results.  

Peale advises us to experiment with prayer power methods; new techniques are always being discovered to help harness the power of prayer.

Two industrialists had a conference to discuss a problem. They dealt with technical issues, but also prayed about it. When they didn’t receive a satisfactory answer, they called in a third person, a preacher, because they noted that the Bible said, regarding prayer, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). Bringing in the third person to pray about the matter was following this formula from the Bible. 

They saw prayer as a scientific phenomenon, and they followed prayer formulas as they would a scientific experiment. (It worked; they found the answer to their issue.)

A 3-Part Prayer Formula

Another prayer formula consists of three parts: “prayerize,” “picturize,” and “actualize.”

  • Prayerize refers to making prayer into a daily system. When a problem arises, for example, speak to God about it simply and directly. Pray during everyday activities. Prayer isn’t just for kneeling at church; it is a part of everything. 
  • Picturize: When you want something to happen, you first pray about it and then picture it as if it’s already happened. Hold the picture firmly in your mind. Release it into God’s hands, and do whatever work you need to do to make it happen. 
  • Actualize: When you hold the picturization firmly in mind, the picture can actualize; it comes to be because you’ve invoked God’s power and released creative energy. 

A husband and wife had an unraveling marriage. The husband was drifting away, and the wife was angry and critical. 

A minister advised the wife to create an image in her mind of herself as beautiful and capable. He taught her to pray and picturize. He had her hold a mental image of the relationship in harmony and restored companionship. When the husband asked for a divorce, she calmly requested 90 days to think it over. During this time, even when he was absent, she visualized him at home in his chair, and happily working around the house. She visualized them doing activities together as a couple. Gradually, he began spending more time at home and with his wife. At the end of the 90 days, there was no talk of divorce. 

The formula worked—she prayerized, picturized, and the result was actualized. 

Utilizing prayer power is a practical faith technique and isn’t always what people picture when they think of religion and prayer. It can be used in business or any area of life.

Prayer and Vibrations

Everything in the universe is made up of vibrations. Prayer is simply sending out vibrations to God as well as from one person to another. 

When you pray for someone else, you are sending that person a sense of support, love and helpfulness. This process awakens vibrations in the universe, and God is able to help make whatever you’re praying for come to pass.

Peale has made it a habit to send out prayers all day long to the people he encounters, even briefly, letting the power of God move through him, to the people he prays for, and back again to God, creating an endless loop of prayer power. 

Shooting Prayers

Peale learned another unique prayer technique from Frank Lauback, author of Prayer, the Mightiest Power in the World. Dr. Lauback believes in the power generated by prayers. One method he uses is to “shoot” prayers at people as he walks down the street. He calls this bombardment of thoughts of goodwill and love “flash prayers.” He often gets a reaction as people feel the energy of the prayers. 

Peale tried Dr. Lauback’s method while on a train near a rude, possibly intoxicated man who was behaving obnoxiously. He prayed for the man, visualized his better self, and sent out good will. Soon the man’s attitude changed and he became quiet, even smiling at Peale. Peale believes the prayer power reached the man.

Peale also prays for members of his audience before he gives a speech, sending thoughts of love and goodwill. Sometimes he picks out someone in particular, such as one man who appeared to be scowling at Peale. Before speaking he “shot” prayers at the man and continued to do so as he spoke. The man came up to him later smiling, saying the speech had given him a strange sense of peace. Again, prayer power in action. 

The human brain can send off power with thoughts and prayers—its cells are like millions of storage batteries. Coupled with the human body’s magnetic properties, we can see how prayer power can flow through us and pass between humans.

Peale once counselled a man who was in Alcoholics Anonymous. One afternoon Peale had a strong impression that the man was in trouble, so he stopped and sent prayers to the man. Later he found out that at that exact moment, the man had been outside a bar tempted to drink. The man thought about Peale and began to pray. He soon got the strength to go to a drugstore and buy candy instead of drinking.

Prayer can change the way you view and react to your circumstances, as well.

A young wife and mother was filled with anxiety, hate and resentment. She was very unhappy and dissatisfied with her life. Peale encouraged her to pray, and though doubtful at first, she became an enthusiastic prayer practitioner. What resonated most was Peale telling her, “Every day is a good day if you pray.” Every morning she affirmed this idea in her prayers. Though petty annoyances still existed in her life, she was unbothered by them. She began her prayers by listing what she was grateful for, and this habit helped her focus on the good and not the bad. She said she hadn’t had a single bad day since she started this exercise.

Praying to Jesus: What Is the Proper Way to Pray?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The Power of Positive Thinking summary :

  • That there is no problem or obstacle you can’t overcome with faith, positive thinking, and prayer
  • The practical techniques of applied Christianity
  • How to take control of the events in your life rather than be directed by them

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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