How to Pray

prayer hands

Reading the Word

Luke 11:1–4 (ESV)

1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 6:9-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

Much of Christianity is caught as much as it is taught. The disciples often witnessed Jesus spending time in prayer, so it is no surprise that one of them approached him and asked Jesus to teach the disciples to pray. Jesus’ response is what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Many believers through the years have memorized this model prayer and repeat it often in their own prayer life. However, did Jesus mean for us to simply memorize and repeat his words? I do not think so.

Rather than a prayer to repeat, Jesus gave his disciples a prayer template. He gave them a sample prayer to use an example for their own prayers. Included in the sample (also recorded in Matthew 6:9-13) is praise and reverence for the Father, an acknowledgement of our reliance on God for all things, seeking forgiveness of sins, and seeking God’s protection from future sin. This template is a good reminder to us of the things that should occupy our prayer lives and serve as a corrective for those of us who tend to treat prayer as simply a time to bring our wish lists to God to fulfill. Asking God for things is not necessarily a bad thing, but we should spend a proportionate amount of time praising God for who he is and what he has done as well as dealing with the sin in our lives.

When we follow Jesus template we are constantly reminded of God’s greatness and our dependence on him. We are reminded of the grace God shows to us each and every day and we are reminded that our relationship with the Father is only made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that makes forgiveness possible. Spend time in prayer and use Jesus’ prayer as a guide as you speak to the Father.

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The Lord’s Prayer

Lord's Prayer

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:7–15 (ESV)

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Parallel Text: Luke 11:1-4

Understanding and Applying the Word

Here is one of the most well-known passages in all of Scripture. It is a passage that many have memorized and many recite regularly. It is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, though that might be a little confusing because it is not actually a prayer by Jesus, but a prayer template that Jesus taught to his disciples. We are told in Luke’s Gospel, that Jesus taught this to his followers after one of his disciples approached him and asked Jesus to “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

In response to being asked how to pray, Jesus instructs his followers to “Pray then like this.” I do not believe he meant for his followers to simply repeat the exact words, but to use this as a template or outline for prayer. If we follow this understanding, we learn to address God as Father, revere him, seek his will in every area of life, depend on him for our every need, ask him for forgiveness, offer forgiveness to others, and rely on God to protect us from temptation and evil.

Prayer is not just a time when we ask God for things. It is a time to reorient our lives around God and his purposes. When we pray as Jesus instructed, we remind ourselves of who God is and how we fit into his plans and purposes. When we do this, we are ready to live in the world, not for ourselves, but for the glory and honor of our Father, who is worthy of reverence and who is trustworthy in every circumstance. Take time to pray to him right now in thanksgiving.

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