What if someone asked you, “Hey friend, can you teach me to pray?” What would you say? If you’re like me, you’d probably try to come up with the best, most clever answer on the spot (depending on who was asking and why they were asking).
One time, the disciples asked Jesus this exact question. “Can you teach us how to pray?”
And Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4)
Jesus didn’t intend for us to memorize, rehearse and recite this prayer. It’s actually just a model of how to pray. It’s probably best understood as sort of an “outline.” Of course, It’s not a mandatory outline, God WILL hear your prayers even if you aren’t following the pattern set here. But if you want to know a good way to pray, then Jesus says…
- First, when you pray, we can acknowledge God’s holiness and be considerate of His name. It’s key to understand that we are talking to GOD and this is a very special, holy moment.
- Second, we can invite God’s WILL or his WAYS (kingdom) to be established in our life.
- Third, we can be grateful to God for providing everything we need in life.
- Fourth, we can ask God to forgive us of our sins, while also forgiving those who have sinned against us. If we expect God to forgive us, then we should be forgiving toward others!
- Lastly, Jesus points out our our predisposition toward sin. So it’s probably good to ask God for help in the areas where we tend to give into sin (anger, pride, etc)
I think sometimes we overcomplicate prayer. We make into something that God never intended it to be. Prayer is not a public performance. It’s not a method for impressing people. It doesn’t define our spirituality. Prayer is not a “message” for others to hear. And it’s certainly not supposed to make us feel inadequate.
Additionally, it’s not supposed to be a set of sentences that we say ritualistically before we eat or go to bed. If you pray a routine prayer and never actually mean it, then it is a pointless activity. The point of prayer is a genuine connection with God. It’s about dialoguing with our father in Heaven. God is good Dad, and we should simply speak to Him as such.
Later in the chapter, Jesus also tells us to ask, seek, and knock (Luke 11:9-10) These words imply boldness, they imply initiative. As we pray, we can take action in the spirit realm by boldly asking for things from our Father. Not selfish things, but things that benefit others, and things that benefit God’s kingdom. As we pray, God can and will work through you and me to establish his kingdom here on earth.
This is Prayer…it’s simply our opportunity to speak with our father, and to work with him to bring about HIS will on earth.