Learning to cook is like learning to pray

Written by Josiah Piett

I’ve been challenging myself to be a better cook. I am currently horrible at cooking, just ask my wife! To make progress, I needed to take this big goal and break it into smaller ones.

I began my journey by focusing on how to make one meal. I am not talking about Kraft Dinner but an actual good meal. Sloppy Joes are one of my favourite meals, so I asked Kara if I could start with that. She handed me the recipe, and I began to study it. The problem was, I have known for years that to become a better cook I needed to read recipes and start following them. But I have never taken the time to do either of these things.

Two belief barriers were stopping me from stepping into the kitchen. One barrier was that I was afraid to mess up the meal and disappoint my wife. The other main fear was that I didn’t have the skills or knowledge to do it. Once I realized these barriers, I talked to Kara about them and then decided it was time to step into the kitchen.

Imagine you approached praying like I did cooking. You want to be better at praying. Well, for that to happen you need to start with a recipe. Just like there are different types of meals there are different types of prayers. For example:

Conversational prayers

These are prayers that are simply conversations between you and God. You share whatever is on your mind (good, bad, boring, etc.). These prayers are kind of like stews. They can be a mix of new ingredients and old meals put together. Stews are a great way to begin learning how to cook. There is nothing wrong with a good, hearty stew.

Contemplative prayers

If conversational prayers contain both speaking and listening, contemplative prayers are solely listening. In their basic form, you can start by focusing on a specific chapter or verse in the Bible and read/write/listen to it over and over for a set amount of time.

The Psalms are a great place to start with these prayers. This would be like a more complicated dish; it takes more effort but can also be rewarding in a way an average dish isn’t. Think of this type of prayer as marinated chicken with a side of mixed vegetable salad and rice. A lot of prep and time is needed to prepare the chicken, but the result is worth it.

Praying with others

Praying with others is like a potluck or a party. Everyone brings their own unique dishes, but they are all meant to be shared. At a party, I am a sucker for chips, but at a potluck I love scalloped potatoes. The emphasis in this type of prayer is less about a specific dish and more about the collective experience. 

Prayers of intercession

This is a fancy way to say praying on behalf of people (family, friends, city, and world). These prayers are kind of like hospitality, like making food and delivering it to someone else’s home without telling them it was from you. This kind of prayer blesses and sustains those around you.

The important part to remember in this kind of prayer is that it’s usually done in solitude without others knowing. Jesus treasures these kinds of prayers because they imitate His own heart for selflessness and serving others. There is a unique intimacy that can be experienced through this kind of prayer.

Gratitude prayers

Giving thanks to God is like salt—more of an essential ingredient to all meals than it is a meal on its own. Without thankfulness, prayer meals can become bland and have no substance.

After looking at these brief descriptions, I encourage you to start practising them. Reading these descriptions and not trying them is equivalent to me saying I want to be a good cook but I’m only going to read the cookbook and never step into the kitchen.

You may have beliefs that are stopping you from stepping in. Many people don’t feel worthy to talk to God. But Jesus paid the ultimate price for you and I to have access to Father through the Spirit.

Don’t give your feelings of guilt and shame more power than they deserve. You are forgiven, you are loved, and you matter to the Father. 

Some people simply don’t know where to start and feel like they could do it all wrong. Maybe you should start with a good stew. It’s hard to mess it up. In other words, start having a conversation with God for five minutes a day (set a timer if you want). Talk about whatever you want.

Maybe you’re like me, and you didn’t realize there were so many different kinds of prayers. You may have been handed the broccoli and not realized there are a whole lot more kinds of food out there. Don’t let the meals you have been given in the past determine the meals you make moving forward.

It is time to step into the kitchen. Just like we all have different taste buds, the Father has created us all uniquely. The way we connect to Him through prayer is going to be just that: unique. You won’t know what you like until you try it. And your taste buds are going to change over time, so don’t be afraid to try new meals. Who knows? You might surprise yourself or get surprised by someone showing up in the process.

My mom’s Sloppy Joe recipe:


1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup celery diced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
2 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon relish


Fry garlic, onion, celery in one tablespoon oil.
Add ground beef, stir until brown.
Add all other ingredients and simmer on low for one hour.
Serve on toasted buns.