“When people love one another, they pray for one another, and when they pray for one another they learn to love one another more deeply.” ~ Glenn Daman – Shepherding the Small Church (2002)
A hallmark of the Christian life is prayer. Praying is as much a part of religious life as breathing is to all life. Still, when it comes down to prayer for the Christian, there may be unanswered questions. The biggest question is “How should we pray?” This is not a new question. One disciple asked Jesus this very question.
What is Prayer?
Well, prayer becomes what we say when we talk to God. To pray is to talk to God and praying is the act of talking with God.
~ Psalm 5:3
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”
Funny how often we are told to bow our heads. Humbleness and submission comes from the heart, not the position of our head. Since this is my opinion, do what you want with that one…
Supplication is praying that is done with humble earnest.
~ Psalm 86:6
“Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.”
Intercession is praying done on the behalf of others.
~ Romans 8:26
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Praying is for our benefit. We need prayer because it lifts our hearts and minds to God.
Until now, many of us have been satisfied with prayers that simply tell God what’s on our heart. Most of the time this consists of asking for things. Is there anything wrong with that? That depends!
Teach Us How to Pray
~ Luke 11:1
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
In Luke’s account, Jesus was alone in prayer. When he finished and joined the people, he was asked by a disciple to teach them how to pray. Matthew’s account has Jesus including the teaching of praying to the multitudes. He started in Matthew 6:5-8 by telling them to:
- Take private time with the Father. While corporate and family praying is needful, most of our praying should be done alone with God.
- Avoid long public praying and praying for show or to be seen of men.
- Pray from the heart, not from a script.
- There is no point in repeating the same words over and over. This doesn’t mean you can’t pray about the same thing more than once.
- The Father knows what you need…
Jesus often spent time alone with the Father in prayer. Rarely do you see Jesus praying in public. When he does, it is brief and to the point, while his lengthy praying was done in secret.
~ Matthew 14:23
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”
~ Matthew 26:36
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.”
~ Luke 6:12
“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”
No doubt, after watching Jesus perform a number of miracles, his disciples wanted to be more like him. How do you pray and what do you pray for? What are your motives and intent when you talk to the Lord? In order to assure our prayers are aligned with the will of God, Jesus gave us a blueprint!
A Prayer Pattern
As we begin to examine the blueprint, keep this in mind. This is not really the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus did not repeat these words while praying. Remember, no vain repetitions! These are instructions to the disciples on how to pray to the Father.
Jesus said to pray after this manner. It consists of a pattern already seen in scripture. The first part is toward the God the Father. The second part is toward others. Does this seem familiar?
~ Mark 12:28-31
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
The manner of praying Jesus gives follows the same pattern! We will see it develop as we continue.
God, Our Father
~ Matthew 6:9
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
We begin by acknowledging our relationship with the Father. And he says ‘Our Father’. Because God is our Father, we are family and members of His family!
~ Ephesians 3:14-15
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,”
Relationship is vital to God. He loves us and treats us as His dear children. He is never too busy or preoccupied to listen. He waits to hear from us and will always give us His ear when we call Him. We often forget that Christ’s sacrifice was so we could regain direct access to our Heavenly Father. As such, our prayers should be directed to Him!
Our Heavenly Father
This reminds us of where God dwells. Some people pray to idols, earthly ‘saints’, and earthly fathers. Our prayers should be directed only to our Father in Heaven, whose dwelling place is not of this world.
Hallowed be Thy Name
~ Psalm 111:9
“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.”
To be hallowed means to be honored as holy, to be held in reverence, and to be greatly respected. We should reverence God as King and Creator. We are to approach Him with awe. He is all powerful and Holy.
Praying to Him as though He were a mere person is not the intent of prayer. If you were ever before a judge, would you talk to that person as you would your cousin or a co-worker? Not unless you want to be held in contempt! You would address such a one as ‘Your Honor’. We address the police as ‘Officer’. We even acknowledge our parents as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’.
All of these titles are like badges of honor and carry a degree of respect. Should we speak to the Creator of all like a common person? Do we address Him as someone who owes us something? Is He like a servant that we call on and tell what to do? Never!
~ Psalm 99:3
“Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.”
Thy Kingdom and Thy Will
~ Matthew 6:10
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
We often tell and/or make demands of God for what we want with little regard for what He wants. We seek to set up our domains, empires, and kingdoms here on earth and in our own individual lives. Yet our desire should be for His Kingdom.
Jesus is returning one day. Our desire should be for God’s Kingdom and God’s Will to be done, not just on earth, but in us. His Will and Kingdom are joined together.
He wants the gospel to go forth and for mankind to return to Him and to righteousness and holiness. If you missed my article on Love: Key to the Kingdom, the kingdom is about love. It’s about family. Can anyone call themselves a King if they don’t have a kingdom? While these resources are a part of any kingdom, a kingdom is not made up of buildings, land, and treasures alone. A kingdom consists of subjects! Who can call themselves a ruler if there is no one to rule? Is a leader truly a leader if no one will follow them?
Everyone who comes to the Lord increases the size and wealth of His Kingdom. His Kingdom in heaven, even after the fall of Satan, is made up a countless number of inhabitants! They carry out His Will without question or debate.
~ Revelation 5:11
“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;”
Ask yourself, who’s will do we want ordinarily? We want our own will of course! We want what we want from everything and everyone. We even want our own will to be God’s Will, but that’s backward. Who’s will we obey in Heaven and eventually in the New Earth? Heavenly Father, let your Kingdom come and your Will be done on earth as in heaven!
~ John 6:38
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
Give Us This Day
~ Matthew 6:11
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
Our daily request should consist of bread. What bread? The Word, the Bread of Life! We can ask for daily provision, to have our daily needs met. There is nothing wrong in doing so. But Jesus said the Father knows we have need of these things. But seek first… and these things will be added.
~ Matthew 6:33
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
It’s about making sure our priorities are in line. Also, note another thing. It says give us our daily bread. Our prayers are too often very self-seeking and self-centered. Jesus wants us to pray for everyone in the kingdom! Be mindful of the Body of Christ when praying. And remember to pray from the heart using your own words in prayer.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:25
“Brethren, pray for us.”
~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:”
No requests for bread and milk here. No asking for houses or land. If you go back and read the prayers of the Apostles, they mostly, if not always ask for spiritual things in prayer. They mention the natural things during their messages to the saints!
~ Matthew 6:12
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
This is not about money owed. This is about God forgiving our sins as we forgive and pardon wrong done to us by others.
In Matthew 18:21-35, a certain King has a servant who owes him a very large debt. His family is to be sold to pay the debt. But the servant pleaded with the King for forgiveness. So the King forgives the debt. The servant then finds a fellow which owes him a very small amount, which he could not pay.
The fellow pleads with him to give him time to repay the debt. Instead of paying the mercy he received forward by forgiving his fellow man, he has him thrown in prison!
His associates are saddened by the injustice and tells the King. When the King hears the news, he rebukes the servant he formally forgave and casts him into prison until his former debt is repaid.
A powerful thing to see here is that the King forgave his servant first! God did not say when we first forgive, then He will forgive. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. So since He has already pardoned all of our transgressions, we should continuously do the same for one another. And He will continue to forgive us as well.
Lead Us Not
~ Matthew 6:13
“And lead us not into temptation,…”
Then reading this, one would think that God allows His children to be tempted with evil. This is never the case. Would you tempt your children with evil? God does not tempt nor will He be tempted. Jesus is actually saying we should ask the Father to keep us from temptation. Keep us from the very door that leads to temptation!
~ James 1:13
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Temptation comes from the Devil and from within oneself. God will not prevent temptation because to do so would interfere with our free will to choose. But because He loves us, He provides the escape from it. We have to choose to take it!
Deliver Us from Evil
~ Matthew 6:13
“…but deliver us from evil:”
I’m sure this is something we all ask of God already. We tend to look externally for evil. We blame the devil and demons. But we are a source of evil as well. In fact, we are our own worse enemy when it comes down to evil.
~ Genesis 3:22
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:…”
We should pray for grace to avoid our own tendencies to do evil. Left to our own devices, we would do whatever we feel is right. We will seek to save and preserve our own little world, the stuff in it, and even our very lives at the expense and sacrifice of others. So we should pray for one another that we submit our wills and ways to the Lord. If we follow after love toward others according to scripture, we will be less likely to harm and offend others.
~ Proverbs 21:2
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”
~ Proverbs 14:12
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
And if we are obedient, then God will protect us from the Evil One as well. Remember Job 1:10?
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:3
“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”
For Thine Is…
~ Matthew 6:13
“…For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
God is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all we can ask or think. God is all powerful. All things belong to Him. By Him all things exist. Now and forever. This is to remind us that God is ready, willing, and able to perform all we ask when we ask in faith, according to His Will. And because of who He is, He should receive our worship, thanks, and praise.
This is the pattern for prayer given to us by our Savior. As you see, he wants us to follow the same pattern as the Great Commandments. By the way, these are a summary of the Law of God, the Ten Commandments! Love God and love one another. While we have been taught to pray for any and everything we want, God’s Will is for us to honor Him in prayer and pray for one another. Again…
~ Matthew 6:33
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
He promised to take care of our needs when we pray for and seek to do His will. In fact, our needs have already been provided for!
Read 1 Kings 3:1-14. Solomon had the right idea when he prayed for a discerning and understanding heart. He understood the tremendous task set before him. He did not ask for riches and wealth. He did not ask to have his personal needs met. His prayer was for the people!
God granted him what he requested in spades and then gave him so much more than he needed! This is what our Father wants to do for us when we yield to Him and trust Him. As our King, He has the obligation to provide for the needs of His subjects!
~ Matthew 7:11
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
If we look at Luke’s account in Luke 11:13 , he states ‘how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give the Holy Spirit…’ So you decide what God’s wants us to ask for when we pray.
Let’s try praying God’s way. If we believe God is a God of His Word, we will begin to experience the blessings and the hand of God in our lives like never before… As it was always intended.
As always, I hope this articles is helpful. Thank you for visiting!