We have been talking about prayer the last couple of weeks at my church, so I thought I would share some of what we have been learning here. The following observations all come from Matthew Chapter 6. I hope that they will be a help to you!
Pray in Secret – verses 5-6
This isn’t a condemnation of praying in public. Jesus did that a lot. Instead it’s an attitude check. We need to be praying to the right audience, and for the right reason. Our audience is God, not each other. Also, don’t do something in public that you’re not doing in private. In other words if we don’t put in the time to pray when we are alone, we should hesitate to pray in front of others.
Pray with Purpose – verses 7-8
It’s easy to get in the rut of praying out of habit without engaging our minds. Jesus isn’t saying that we shouldn’t ask for something more than once, instead he’s giving a challenge to be intentional and genuine in our prayers. Both Paul and Jesus repeated prayers. Jesus asked multiple times for an option other than the cross (Matt 26:36-46) and Paul repeatedly asked God to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12:7-8). The idea is just that we don’t shift into autopilot when we pray.
Jesus’ Example – verses 9-13
Our best example for prayer is to look at what Jesus did. His teaching here is an example or sample of how we should pray. It’s a pattern to follow, but not necessarily meant to be memorized and repeated. That being said I don’t think it’s wrong to memorize and repeat the Lord’s Prayer as long as we keep our minds engaged. Also, the elements don’t have to be kept in this exact order, or appear in every prayer.
Think about who you are praying to. Jesus says, “Father, in heaven, Hallowed be your name.” You are talking to your Father who loves you. He is in heaven yet His presence is everywhere (Psalm 139). He is holy, separate, set apart.
Pray for His will
Acknowledge who is really in control (Matthew 6:27 & James 4). A big hint is, it’s not us. Jesus demonstrated this in the garden. He prayed for another way, but submitted to His Father’s will (Matthew 26:39, 42). We can know God’s will through the work of Holy Spirit and God’s word.
Ask for Physical Needs
It’s ok to ask for personal physical needs to be met, but that shouldn’t be our focus. Sometimes, we don’t have because we haven’t asked God (James 4:2.) Jesus also said we should Ask, Seek, Knock (Matthew 7:7-11). Always ask in faith, trusting God, and committing to His will (Matt. 6:25-34).
Different Answers that He may give:
Ask for Forgiveness – verses 12 & 14
Forgiveness is a choice to not hold resentment over an offense. It’s not the same as withholding consequences or taking future precautions. God expects us to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. Forgiving others sets us free and displays God’s love.
Keep a short account with God. Confess daily so that sin doesn’t get the chance to harden your heart or hinder your prayers (1st John 1:9).
Do you have any thoughts or observations to share? I would love to hear what you have been learning about prayer.