Learning to Pray

One day, after the disciples saw Jesus praying to His Father, they asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1).  Jesus then gave what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer.  It should probably be called the Disciples Prayer since it was given to the disciples to teach them how to pray.  Here it is, as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 “In this manner, therefore, pray:  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 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.”  I don’t believe that Jesus gave this prayer as something we should recite every time we pray, but instead it contains most of the elements of a complete prayer to God.  Let us consider these elements.

“Our Father in heaven.”  It is needful to start your prayer by giving the name of the One to whom you are addressing your pray.  While you could address it to Jehovah or one of the other names of God, “Father in heaven” is such a special title.  There is only one Father in heaven.  “Father” invokes in our minds the thoughts of the special relationship we have with God.  He has chosen to adopt us as His children.  His ears are open to the prayers of the children that He loves (1 Peter 3:12).

“Hallowed be Your name.”  Hallowed means to make or set aside as holy.  God is distinct and set apart from everything else in heaven or on earth; He is the ultimate power and authority.  To recognize His name as holy is a way of praising and worshipping God.  It is very good to praise and worship God in your prayers.  Hebrews 13:15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

“Your kingdom come.”  I understand that God’s kingdom had not come to the earth at the time that Jesus spoke these words of the prayer.  However, God’s kingdom did come on the day of Pentecost after the death of Jesus and it is here today.  Even so, there is another manifestation of the kingdom that is yet to be revealed.  Peter stated in 2 Peter 1:11 “For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Before the creation of the world, God had a plan for mankind and our redemption through Jesus Christ.  Our existence on this earth is not just about us; it is about God.  You and I should be interested in God’s plan and God’s kingdom.  “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  You know that God rules in heaven.  You should want God’s will to be done on earth as well.  These words should describe your desire to focus your attention on God and what He wants and what He plans and accomplishes rather than only upon yourself and your desires.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  This part of the prayer is where you make your supplication to God for your needs.  He has the power to fulfill your needs; as your Father in heaven, He wants you to ask for your needs.  In the prayer that Jesus gave, the request for needs is one small part of the prayer.  My observation is that the prayers of many people are dominated by requests for what they perceive as their needs.  My encouragement to you is to have a more balanced prayer.

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  It is very important that God forgives you of your shortcomings and sins.  God is only going to forgive you if you forgive others.  God wants you to confess your sins and humble yourself before Him.  1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  This is a request for God’s leading in your life.  You should want to be led by the Holy Spirit of God (Romans 8:14) because God alone knows what is best.  It is a request to be delivered from severe trials and protected against the evil forces that seek to overcome you.  God alone can lead you and protect you in your life.

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”  I understand this to be another expression of praise and worship of God.  How great a God we serve!  It again puts the focus back on God and away from yourself.

“Amen.”  This seems to be a word that can be used in all languages.  It basically means “so let it be”.  It can mark the end of a prayer.  When you hear someone pray and you say amen, it is your way of expressing your agreement with their prayer (see 1 Corinthians 14:16).

Paul gave an exhortation about prayer in 1 Timothy 2:1 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.”  From this we learn that there can be other elements of prayer, to include intercessions (prays for someone else) and giving of thanks.

Learn from the Lord’s Prayer to address your prayers to your Father in heaven, to praise and worship God, and to desire that His will be done on the earth.  You can make your request for your needs to include asking for forgiveness, leading and deliverance from the evil one.  Learn to not only address your needs but also worship and praise God, your Father. m