“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.” -Matthew 6:9-13
Such an impactful prayer with so few words.
Why do we find the need to make prayers flowery and filled with words we think God wants to hear? I know I have complicated prayer time with so much banter that I don’t even know what I said. We try too hard sometimes to impress those who may hear us, or we are trying to impress God with our piety. Well, guess what, they are not, and He is not.
Jesus warns those who pray for appearance. As we learned last week, Jesus used a Pharisee as an example of what not to do. They stood on street corners to advertise. They used loud verbose language to self-legitimize their religiousness. They used prayer to boost themselves and to tear others down. Jesus says they will receive no reward for their prayers… the attention they do get is their reward.
He goes on to tell those listening that God already knows what we are going to pray for, so extreme language is not needed. That does not mean we are not to pray; on the contrary, it should encourage us to lift up our prayers because he knows. These verses in Matthew give us an example of how we are to pray. It is filled with the what’s of prayer.
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name…”
We have all written a letter that begins with, “Dear so-and-so.” This intro tells the reader who the letter is written to. With prayer, whom we address tells the listener who the prayer is spoken to: God. When prayer begins, we are addressing our letter to God.
Another part of acknowledging God is speaking to who He is; he is holy. Hallowed is the word used here. He is spiritually excellent, as one definition defines holy. I like that. It gives the picture of perfection. As with perfection, holiness warrants respect. God is not a genie in the sky we make our request to; He is God. So, our prayers need to be taken seriously as we present them.
Christian artist Hilary Scott has a song called “Thy Will.” In the song, she sings “Sometimes I gotta stop and remember that You are God, and I am not.” That is a reality many of us need to wake up to; I am one of them. We need to respect that He alone is God.
Submit to His Will
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The chorus to that song begins, “Thy will be done.” This is the main thing we need to be conscious of when we pray. It is not a list of wants or give-me’s. God has a plan for each of us. Our desires and how we pray should line up with His will. Through this submission to His will, we are placing ourselves in a mindset before we get to the substance of our prayer. We are saying, “God in these requests I’m about to present you, I am praying from my heart, but I know you have an ultimate plan, and I surrender to whatever you see best for my life. And I will accept your answer as final and rejoice when we get a yes, and find the joy when I get a no.”
Pray for Needs
“Give us this day our daily bread,”
We all have needs. We need to have a good day at work. We need to be protected on our way to work. We need healing, or a friend needs healing. We need food on the table, a good grade on that test, and the dog to clean up after himself. Some of these have good merit, others not so. The main thing we need to learn is the difference between a need and a want. This is always clouded by our personal agenda.
The one question you can ask to help you determine a need vs. want is, “Who gets the glory if the prayer is answered?”
We want to have a million dollars, we want to have the latest what’s-it, we want success in our endeavors, and we want a trouble-free life… but who gets the glory in each of those?
Pray for Forgiveness
“and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Many people read this and stop at forgiving us our debts. They overlook the part about forgiving others. And the forgiving others is an important part of the Christian life. In fact, dare I say, that when we pray and receive no reply, it could be because of unforgiveness. Yes, our unforgiveness of others can hinder our prayer life. So, if you are struggling with receiving an answer to prayer, look at your life for unresolved sin, as well as unresolved conflict with someone.
Pray for Guidance and Protection
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
We all have an agenda when we wake up in the morning. We plan our day from the first alarm to the time we lay our head back down. Proverbs16:9 teaches us that a man’s heart may choose his way, but the Lord determines his steps. We are all on the road, or should be, that leads to a deeper relationship with Christ. This relationship should be reflected in our daily activities and interactions with others. We need His guidance to know which way to walk in.
When we are in His will, we will have peace. When we are even slightly askew, we will know it. Our spirits will be troubled, and we will most definitely experience setbacks. These setbacks are usually placed there to get us back on track. So, His guidance, the soft still voice we hear, is imperative to listen to. When we listen, we are protected. But when we ignore it, we are on our own. His hand of protection is upon us, but we may still experience pain, heartache, and trouble, but always know He is there.
Acknowledge God to Receive the Glory
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
No matter what we face. The good, the bad, the joy, the pain, God gets all the glory. For in the good, it is His hand that enabled our success. In the bad, He is the one who allowed it into our lives. The good, elevates us. The bad rounds off the rough edges so we can become better people. More Christ-like. This part of prayer gives acknowledgment that in all things He gets the glory; we do not receive any. We may feel we accomplished that goal, but He gave us the ability to do so. We may feel we overcame that adversity, but He gave us the endurance to get through it. He gets all glory. For it was in His power.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands of commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer. This is just one of many. But I pray it gives you a handle on what to pray. Prayer is not a foreign concept. It is not difficult nor is it intended to be a demanded ritual where punishment is handed out if we fail to comply.
God desires us to have a relationship with him. Communication is part of that relationship. Imagine a relationship with your spouse without communication. Can you really expect to raise your kids without communication? Your job would not get accomplished without communication. How do you expect your life, which is in God’s hands, to succeed without communion with the creator of it?
I encourage you to take the time, daily, to spend a moment in prayer. Go through this list if needed. The most important part of prayer is sincerity. It means nothing if it does not come from your heart. If it is not from the heart, you are merely reading off your grocery list to God. Expect nothing from empty prayer. But when our hearts are in it, God can do amazing things in and through someone who is willing. Become a person of prayer. As I said when we began, I struggle with prayer. I believe it is why God has impressed it upon me to write this blog. I pray it has encouraged you and challenged you to have a prayer-filled life.
Why do we pray? -To communicate with God.
How do we pray? -With an attitude of humility and a position of allowing His will in our life.
What to pray? -For our lives to line up with the will of God, giving Him the glory in all things; good and bad.