How Should We Pray?
Prayer: as believers, we all know that we should do it. We are reminded time and time again – by our pastors, our spiritual mentors, and even our friends in the faith – of just how crucially important prayer is to our relationship with God. We know that as we follow Christ, we are meant to be persistent in prayer. And so, the need for prayer is far from ambiguous for those who believe. What many Christians are unsure of, though, is how we are meant to pray.
First of all, we are called to pray in sincerity. After all, God knows our hearts. He knows our every thought before it even enters our minds. Therefore, we have nothing to gain from embellishing our words or trying to hide the truth from God. In Matthew 6:8, Jesus says, “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.” Sadly, just like in Jesus’ time, there are many so-called “Christians” who conjure up elaborate prayers in order to impress others. Jesus makes it clear, however, that we are not to make a spectacle out of prayer. When we pray, we are pouring out our hearts to our Creator – an intimate connection like no other.
Another essential part of prayer is, of course, faith. We must have faith first in the infinite magnitude of our God, and we also must have faith that He is willing and able to answer our prayers. What would be the point in asking for something that we believe is impossible? Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” And if we lack faith, here’s the amazing solution: we can pray for that, too. We don’t have to be ashamed to come before God with all our faults and failures. In prayer, what matters most is our desire to seek out Christ. When we pursue Him, forsaking all our selfish intentions, He will forgive us of our shortcomings and give us grace to grow into who He has called us to be.
And above all, we must look to the perfect model of prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13: “Pray then like this: “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 also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
This is a passage that is memorized and recited by many, but applied by few. There are many valuable lessons to be found in what is commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer. But to put it briefly, our prayers are meant to glorify God, prioritize His will, and petition Him for provision, forgiveness, and deliverance. We may not always get the answers we want, but when we place our hope in Christ, we will always find what we need.