From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Dear Dr. Graham:

I grew up in a church that only used printed or memorized prayers. However, now that I’ve rededicated my life to Jesus I want to pray on my own, but I worry that I might offend God if pray in my own words. Is this a danger?

— Mrs. S.L.

Dear Mrs. S.L.: Formal prayers have their place — but no, you shouldn’t worry about saying something wrong or offending God in your prayers. God wants us to come to Him in prayer, and He delights in our prayers.

After all, if you have been 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 is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us and yearns for us to come to Him and talk with Him — 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).

How can you learn to pray? Pray just as if you were talking to a close friend — because you are! Praise Him in your prayers ... confess your sins to Him in your prayers ... seek His will in your prayers ... and pray for yourself and for others in your prayers. Remember too that Jesus Christ — who is at the Father’s right hand — also prays for us, and His prayers are perfect. The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).