How to Pray
Our Father in heaven, hallowed by 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 forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
Everyone who grew up in church knows the Lord's Prayer. But do you know what not many people know? They don't know about the Lord's Prayer, because they've never taken time to think about it.
But there's a lot that can encourage us today if we will but ponder for a moment on what we learn about prayer from our Lord, Jesus Christ.
First, prayer can be short. In fact, Jesus said that we should avoid vain repetition. Listen, we're not going to be heard in Heaven because we repeat the same prayer over and over again. Studying things people have prayed in the past can inspire our spirits toward deeper prayer, but prayer isn't a bunch of magic words that makes stuff happen through hocus-pocus; it's a conversation with a God who loves us and wants a relationship that includes two-way communication.
Second, it's not self-focused. Look through our verses again; you don't see a lot of me, my, I, and mine. This is probably one area that most believers can grow in the most when it comes to prayer because it is so easy to let prayer become that thing we do only when we need help. And, yes, God wants to help us, but He says He knows our needs before we ask them. Instead, let's pray about what He desires and for the needs of those around us.
Third, it leaves time for listening and thinking. See, because it's short, that means that we're not always jabbering at God. It means that we take time to listen as well to what God wants to say to us and then we think about what He's said. It also means that we can think about what we say to Him before we say it.
Fourth, and this might be the most important, prayer isn't concerned with impressing the audience. This doesn't mean we let ourselves be irreverent, yet at the same time, we are warmly invited to call God our Daddy. Our Daddy! Think of how little children address their fathers. Do they get to be disrespectful? No. But is it honoring to their dads if they approach him stiff and reserved like a pious cherub out of some da Vinci painting? Also no. Instead, we should approach our Daddy as children who want and expect a loving embrace, a listening ear, and wise counsel.
Prayer Father God,
Thank You for changing the way that I think about prayer! Please continue to help and teach me as I learn to talk to You in this new way.