How Do We Pray?

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.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
-Luke 11:1-4

As Christians, we know we should pray because both the Old and New Testaments tell us to do so. If we read our Bibles, we know we have no hope of getting through this life or of ever accomplishing anything for Jesus Christ without him at the center. Jesus tells us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

So then how do we pray? Jesus spells out the answer in what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer,” found in both Matthew 6 and Luke 11. This is not really the Lord’s Prayer—it isn’t the prayer that Jesus himself prayed. It’s the prayer he taught his disciples to pray. (We could call it The Disciples’ Prayer). He never needed to say things like “forgive us our sins,” because he didn’t have any to forgive. The real Lord’s Prayer was recorded in the Garden just before his arrest. It’s made up of three parts:

1) “Your will be done,”
2) “Your will be done,”
3) “Your will be done.”

Even though Jesus didn’t pray the Disciples’ Prayer, we can pray as he taught us. The common form looks like this:

We come to God the Father with a sense of complete trust and dependency, just as a small child approaches their father. We are encouraged to see God as “Abba” (the Aramaic word for “Papa” or “Daddy”).

With this sense of intimacy and total reliance, we come with confession (openness regarding our sins and failures with no attempt to hide them or make excuses for them). And then, we present our praise and thanks for who he is what he’s already done for us.

Finally, we present to him our petitions, all the things we want him to do. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). We can God for anything we choose, anything at all. We can ask for health, healing, rescue—whatever is in our heart or on our mind. If he thinks it is good for us and in accordance with his perfect will, we’ll have it. The Creator of the universe, who wants to be seen as our heavenly Father, has our best interests at heart.

Since God wants us to pray and intends to bless us through it, let us step boldly into the act of prayer with the confidence that we are heard. God answers with a purpose that is good, and timing that is perfect. Let us remember to conclude each prayer as Jesus did: “Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done.”   

Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

John I. Snyder