Do you know how to pray? Did you know that the Lord gave a master class on how to pray and we can learn from it? This post looks at the process of praying as the Lord taught his disciples and which we can and should learn from too. This lesson is contained in the Lords Prayer.
Teach Us How To Pray
The disciples came to Jesus and said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Verse 1)
The first thing we must recognise is that they did not ask the Lord WHAT they should pray, but HOW to pray. Many people today use the Lord’s Prayer and pray it word for word from the bible. This is not what the disciples asked for, they wanted to know how they should pray.
In fact when people pray the Lord’s Prayer they are actually doing the opposite of what the Lord taught the people. He said to them, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
When people pray the Lord’s Prayer they are actually heaping up empty phrases. They are not asking the Lord for what they want or for things that may be specific to their life or their needs. Instead they are just repeating by rote a set of words that were not given for us to pray, but to teach us how to pray.
So let us look at the Lord’s Prayer in a little detail. First the Lord shows that we need to address the prayer. In the same way as we speak to any person we need to get their attention. If someone wants to talk to me they will usually get my attention addressing me by name.
When we want God’s attention we need to address him by name and so Jesus taught us to say, “Our Father in heaven,” or similar words.
Now because he is God it is important to petition him appropriately. Give God the praise and glory he is entitled to for He is God and we are not. Thus Jesus tells us to offer praise and worship next in our prayers. We might say things like “Holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” These words are measures of respect, praise and worship. Similarly we might praise God for the things he has done in our life. We might thank him for the blessings he has given us.
These things are the beginnings of your prayer. Address God by name and offer him the praise he is due for what he has done in your life, not empty words that are not meaningful to you and the God has now heard millions of times (and is probably bored with) Praying empty words is probably the equivalent of prayer spam!
Put Your Requests to God
The next phase of the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples and us is to put your requests to God. Ask him for the things that you need: advice, help, assistance, wisdom, insight, knowledge, forgiveness, mercy or the necessities of this life.
It’s a bit meaningless for a middle class person in western society asking the Lord to “Give us this day our daily bread.” It may be appropriate for someone in destitute circumstance or struggling in a third world country, but for most people in western society it is pointless.
The Lord wants to hear what our needs, wants and desires are, not some empty words.
Closing the Prayer
Finally when you close your prayer it needs to be a definite closing process. Jesus said that we are to ask the Father for our needs in his (Jesus) name. He said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
So when we close our prayers we should do exactly that. We should close our prayers saying something like, “In Jesus name, Amen.”
Why say amen? Because it is a validation of what we are praying. The word amen means something like “so be it” and it says that what we have prayed is what we mean and want.
So take the lesson from the Lord as he taught his disciples. The Lord’s Prayer is meant to teach us how to pray not what to say. Go to the Lord in prayer for he wants to hear what you have to say and offer him the praise he is due.