How to Pray
I had the pleasure of speaking at the Riverside Women’s breakfast recently and I wanted to share my thoughts from that morning. Let’s take a few minutes together and let us look at Jesus’ instructions on prayer given to his disciples and also to us. We will use Matthew 6:9-13 as our guide to examine our prayer life.
“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 6:9-13)
I can be honest with you and say that before becoming a true follower of Jesus I had prayed this prayer hundreds of times in my life. I did not realize that this prayer the “Our Father” is a part of scripture nor that it is the words of Jesus Christ himself! (Maybe you can relate?) My repetitive prayer lacked emotion, honesty, relationship and closeness with my Heavenly Father. Now I see the difference! Taking time to examine our prayer life is so valuable in our Christian walk. The time spent with our Father in Prayer makes God real to us. It helps us to build a real relationship with God. We need to get away from a transactional relationship with God; If I do X, then please Lord give me Z. If I do THIS, don’t I deserve THAT Lord? Remember God doesn’t need us to be part of his plans, He desires us to be part of his plans. He invites us in! Remember also that when we pray God is not expecting “perfect” prayers. We must not worry about having the perfect words in order for him to hear us. Romans 8:26 says “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words.”
Let’s revisit Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus is speaking to his disciples and sharing with them how to pray. First in verse 9, Jesus points us to remember and recognize who we are praying to by praising Our Father first. He reminds us that God is “hallowed” or blessed, sacred, respected above all other names. Praising God first in prayer has dramatically changed my prayer life! Before we share our agenda or our to-do list with God, we are called to praise God; the God of the Universe who created the world yet sees us and loves us and hears our prayers!
Verse 10 reminds us to pray with an expectancy for God’s Kingdom to return. We are to seek God’s Kingdom and seek God’s will for our life, not our will for our life. Will you be ready when God’s Kingdom returns? Have you accepted Jesus and believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and that you are freed and forgiven of your sins? Are you seeking God’s will in your life? Do you read God’s words in the Bible and allow scripture to guide your life?
In verse 11, Jesus reminds us that we are to have total and complete dependence on God. I encourage you to read Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:11-13. Both passages illustrate what it means to have total dependence on God. This is difficult however the more I understand God’s heart towards me, the more I see how I cannot be dependent on my own understanding. I need and want to dependent on God for all things!
Verse 12 tackles what Jesus shares regarding forgiveness. We are not only to pray for our own forgiveness, but we are also called to pray about and forgive others who have wronged us! How in the world can we forgive others who have hurt us so deeply? Romans 5:8 says “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As far as I can read it doesn’t say that once we deserved it we were forgiven. God knew we were sinners and He loved us and continues to love us despite that fact. I pray that we can have a heart to forgive and love others the way that God forgives and loves others. What hurt and unforgiveness are you carrying around in your heart that God wants you to bring to him so that he can help you forgive?
Verse 13 says “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Jesus reminds us that we will be tempted to sin and that even He was tempted by the devil. However, He is instructing us to pray and ask God to not leave us alone in the face of temptation. Pray and ask for help in recognizing temptation and giving us the strength to overcome it. Jesus was able to overcome the time of testing by the devil. Why? Jesus knew the heart of his Father and He was able to apply scripture to combat temptation. We are called to do the same. Are you in God’s word to know what God’s word says and is saying to you? Do you desire a closeness with your Father and spend time in prayer? I encourage you to use this passage in Matthew as a guide to pray to your Father. Praise Him, be honest with Him in prayer. I pray that your prayer life is renewed and that you develop a closeness with God like never before.