Prayer is talking and listening to God. The eternal God of the universe, the creator of heaven and earth, the God who created the mountains and the seas, the Lord over all nations, this same God cares about you. When you pray, you speak directly to him. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we as followers of Jesus have direct access to the throne of grace to bring our requests to God.
You don’t have to use fancy words when you pray. God is not impressed with you trying to impress others or impress him. Rather, God smiles when we talk to him the way a son or daughter talks to their dad.
5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
You also don’t have to repeat words over and over again. God is not hard of hearing, nor is he like someone that you need to “wear down” by repetition, nor is he more likely to listen to you if you repeat words, phrases or sounds over and over again. Even simply repeating the words of a prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer is not effective if you are mindlessly repeating words.
7 When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. 8 Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.
Jesus teaches us about prayer. The prayer commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer” is really “The Model Prayer” or “The Disciples’ Prayer.” Through this prayer, we learn much about the types of things that should be a regular part of our prayer.
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Notice that Jesus tells us to pray like this, not just to pray this. There is nothing wrong with praying these words to God, but remember to think deeply about the words and let them come from your heart.
This prayer teaches us:
- We pray to our loving Heavenly Father!
- Through prayer, acknowledge the holiness of God and his perfect attributes.
- We pray for his kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Think about what this would actually look like!
- We ask God for physical and spiritual nourishment daily.
- We thank God for his forgiveness and ask him to help us forgive others.
- We beg God to keep us away from temptation and to deliver us from the attacks of the enemy.
- We surrender ourselves to the One who has the kingdom and power and glory forever!
- AMEN = so let it be!
Take a few moments to slowly read the Lord’s Prayer, pausing to pray after each phrase or sentence. More than just words to repeat, this prayer is a model for us to follow. Like the rest of the Bible, let these words from Matthew 6 teach us how to pray.