“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6: 7-13
For many Christians, there has been much dedication given to prayer in our lives. How can we be sure that our understanding of prayer is based on scripture rather than on others' misguided beliefs or influences? If you’re interested in deepening your biblical understanding of prayer to Yahweh, the one true God, it might help to first address what prayer is not, so as to dispose of any preconceived notions on the topic of prayer.
What Prayer is Not
Something you can only do when you are perfect or sinless.
There is a lie that has surfaced in Christianity, leading people to believe they are not worthy or qualified to pray. However, the truth is none of us is worthy apart from Christ. When we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He cleanses us from unrighteousness and we are adopted as God’s children. We all have sinned, but God’s grace covers us when we receive it and He gladly hears the voice of His children. If you are asking for salvation through Jesus Christ, or have already received salvation, God hears you!
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
2. Making wishes to a genie.
Have you ever watched a tv show or movie where a character finds themselves in danger and they begin to pray, while otherwise any relationship with God seemed to be absent? The purpose of prayer is communication and relationship with our Heavenly Father. Though we can bring anything to our heavenly Father in prayer, including our wants and needs, He wants more than that. Coming to God in prayer only when you need or want something is impersonal and is using him more like an atm machine. He wants a relationship with us!
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
3. Performance of eloquence and/or intelligence.
Just as mentioned in Matthew 6:7, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day believed that having long prayers that sounded eloquent is what would buy them favor. It does not matter how intelligent you are or how your prayer sounds. In fact there may be some times in your life when you actually have no words to pray (Romans 8:26-27). What really matters is our heart posture towards the Lord and our acknowledgement of Him as Lord and Savior, knowing that we are God’s adopted sons and daughters. He is our King; He is our Father; He is our Friend. We don’t have to offer fancy words for our prayers to be heard.
The Order of Prayer
Adoration: Recognize who the Lord is, praise Him and give him acknowledgement for his character and who He is.
Confession: Come humbly before the Lord, trusting He will forgive you for your sins and wrongdoings, placing them in His hand.
Thanksgiving: Praise Him for what He has done and given you.
Supplication: Bring your needs, wants, and heartaches before him!
The Lord’s Prayer (in other words)
Our Father in heaven: Jesus said, “Call Him Abba, Father.”
Hallowed be Your name: Respect and honor. Pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name (Hebrews 13:15). Not for common use; “I do not take lightly the privilege to gather and pray in His name.
Your kingdom come: This is not about me and my desires. The purpose of prayer is to get to know the Father and partner with Him in my life.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven: What God wants from me for the works of His kingdom.
Give us this day our daily bread: The Father will provide for His children every day, as we acknowledge our dependence on Him.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors: The Father forgives our sins against Him and wants us to forgive others in the same way.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one: The Father leads and empowers us to resist the evil one.
End your prayer by essentially “reporting for duty”, available to whatever God calls you to do!
Resource recommendations for further study
- Prayer by Timothy Keller.
- The Lord's Prayer (in other words) a Phoenix Community of Atlanta resource adapted from T4T Discipleship training.
- Bible Project: Shema Prayer
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