How to talk to your family and friends about prayer

~6 minute read

One of our favorite saints on the Hallow team is St. Teresa of Avila. She said prayer is “nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

At Hallow, we’re inspired by this vision of prayer. But we also know that building a friendship with God – like all friendships – can be scary. It takes trust, accountability, forgiveness, humor, and patience. On top of that, talking about your relationship with Christ with others can be even more daunting. 

We put together a few tips to help you talk about this friendship and pray with those around you:

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your conversations. Jesus encourages his disciples that when they are put on trial, the Holy Spirit will speak through them (Luke 12). God sent the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate and friend. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus formed the Church, gave us the witness of the Saints, and finally – the witness of each other, to show that a friendship with God was not only possible but worth pursuing. 

The Holy Spirit wants us to ask for help and to let Him work through us. Before and during any conversation, you can simply ask, “Come, Holy Spirit” and have faith that you are not alone.

Ask others what they are struggling with. We all have a hard time talking about the tough stuff, including prayer; it’s easier to discuss the weather than it is to discuss the anxieties of life. But most people are open to talking about themselves, they just need to be asked. 

Some ideas for questions to guide these conversations: 

  • How are you actually doing? 
  • What is hard about life right now? 
  • How do you deal with stress? 
  • How is your heart? 
  • How is your relationship with God? 

The most important part is to listen – try not to jump in with too much advice or your own experience; let them take center stage. 

Being a good friend to God means taking time to listen to what he has to say to us. The same goes for our friends and family on earth. Accompanying people through the struggles in their life shows that you love them and makes talking about prayer much more authentic.

(Image: Robert Zünd, Gang nach Emmaus [Public domain])

Be willing to share your own struggles, especially with prayer. Of course share the joys of your faith and prayer life, but also be open to sharing the parts you wrestle with. Maybe you are great at a daily discipline of prayer, but find it hard to keep your mind quiet. Maybe you are in a season where you don’t feel God’s presence with you. Maybe you are overwhelmed and can barely make time to pray. 

Often what holds people back from a relationship with God is their fear that they won’t be “good” at prayer, or that God wants perfect people. Share about God’s love and forgiveness in your own life, and gently remind them that God loves them beyond what they can imagine and that prayer can begin with something as simple as one minute a day. 

Other reasons friends and family may have trouble with prayer are genuine doubt about questions of faith and dealing with ways the Church has hurt them or someone they know. This is where listening comes in again. 

You don’t need to be an expert in explaining every theological concept or answer for wrongs the Church has done, but offering friends and family a space to voice frustrations and sharing any doubts you have had can go a long way. Talking about prayer can be a great first step to healing past hurts and growing closer to God.

Offer to pray with them. Beginning a prayer habit is hard! “Where do I start, what type of prayer, how does it all work?” 

When these questions come up with friends and family, offer to pray with them. Make it simple and related to the struggles they are facing. You can choose a challenge from Hallow, a praylist, or one of our new Family Prayers for morning, dinnertime, or evening.

A great way to keep the conversation going around prayer is to start a Hallow Family in the app. We’ve already seen the introduction of Hallow Families have a huge impact on peoples’ prayer lives: after joining a Family, users complete 65% more prayers per week compared to those who aren’t in a prayer family. People who download Hallow for the first time through a Family invitation are 2x more likely to complete their first prayer in the app than those who don’t receive a group invitation. 

Being in community makes a difference both in how it helps people feel included and motivated, and how it keeps the conversation of faith open.

(For a technical walkthrough of how to set up a new family group in the app, check out this article)

We are not meant to walk this journey of life alone, and while building a community of faith is hard work, it is also holy work. 

We hope these tips help as a jumping off point, and we will be back with more ideas for how to share your faith with others. Know that we are here to talk through anything with you, and that we are holding you all in prayer.