“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9-13
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today 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 the evil one.’”
Prayer. So simple yet so powerful. So incomprehensible. So great a gift to us from our Father God. He invites us, His creation, to enter into an intimate relationship with Him. He gives us freedom to come to Him and dialog with Him and speak what’s on our minds and in our hearts. Yahweh Himself. The King of the Universe!
Do we avail ourselves of this great blessing of conversation and relationship? Or do we approach prayer casually as we do a jotted down grocery list on a scrap of paper?
Do we pray daily, freely, and with a purpose to our prayers that honors God? Or do we tip our hat to God with a memorized blessing or nighttime prayer as we doze off?
Do we say we will pray for someone, but that’s as far as it goes, just empty promises? Or do we hold counsel with our Creator, baring our heart to Him and listening for His gentle leading and correction?
Do we pray all? Anything other than prayers for rescue and help?
Do we turn to God in prayer for decisions we need to make? For help facing temptations? For direction? Do we ever quit talking and simply listen to the Father?
Where do you find yourself in that broad spectrum of people who say they pray? Contemplate that. Be honest with yourself and the Father.
When I was younger I tended to base my prayers on my feelings too much. I remember telling someone that I didn’t “feel like” my prayers were getting any higher than the ceiling. I remember thinking that surely I wasn’t a “good enough” Christian for God to answer my prayers. I remember thinking that God hadn’t answered my prayer when He answered it in a way I didn’t like. Like all people, I am still growing in my faith – we always will be – so today I’m learning to be patient and not give up in prayer when I’ve waited on God a week, a month, a year,… or for me, 19 years and counting. Anybody with me?
So where ever you find yourself to be in your prayer life, let me give you some reminders about prayer from God’s Word.
“…Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 – He knows.
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 – Take private time away to pray.
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4 – Wait on His answer.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 – Pray when you are tempted.
“But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 8:6 – When you are displeased or dissatisfied – pray!
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7 – Pray for your city.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 – God will listen. Seek Him and find Him.
“Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”” Daniel 6:13 – Pray often.
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong.” Daniel 9:3-5 – Confess your sin to God in prayer.
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 – Believe and receive.
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” Matthew 26:39 – Ask God for whatever you choose to, but always be willing to accept His will whatever that answer may be.
“He [Jesus] went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done'” Matthew 26:42 – Ask God to take away the hard things. Accept His will.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” Mark 11:25 – Forgive others before you come to God in prayer.
“But I have prayed for you, Simon.” Luke 22:32 – Pray for others.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourself to prayer.
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” Pray for others (missionaries and ministers) who share the Gospel.
“Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Duh!
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – Pray for all people, especially those in authority over you.
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them ” James 5:14 – Pray for the sick.
The bottom line – Just pray!