Updated: May 22
I have heard and have been involved in many different conversations pertaining to prayer. I have been consumed by the number of Christ followers that do not know how to pray. Some speak of how they recite the Lord's Prayer but they say that it just feels like they are mindlessly repeating words that do not allow them to feel like the relationship is close or personal. Others recite the Lord's Prayer and then continue with a more personalized prayer. In this session, I hope to put the hearts of my brothers and sisters at ease by explaining how we should pray.
I think it is important to mention that when Christ had recited the famous prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, he was not saying "repeat after me word for word". He was actually giving a broad example. What I mean by that is that he intended for you to make it personal because he desires a very personal relationship with each of us.
So lets look at verse 9 using the KJV, "After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name." What Christ was saying here is open with praise. Think of it this way, you are approaching a throne of not just a king but of the King of Kings.
This was also common in biblical scriptures for a king to be bowed to, praised and honored before one states his/her cause; then afterwards, thanks honor, and praise. We still see this done today with the few surviving families of royalty in the world. Why should we honor the men who set upon thrones on earth more so than God our Father, who is the creator of all?
Verse 10, " Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." If we have a relationship with our Father and we have read His word then we know His character, and by knowing His character, we can know His will on a lot of things. Such as forced sexual immorality towards men, women, and children, In such cases, we would not pray "Lord if it be your will". It would also seem ridiculous when coming to Christ and being born again to pray "Lord if it be your will". We can know this because God speaks strongly against sexual immoralities and His word also says that it is not His will that any soul be lost. (2 Peter 3:9)
However, there are some things that we do not know His will on. Like a move, a new job position, etc. Things that are not specifically written in His word and things that we cannot specifically know even by knowing His character. This is where we pray about those things. This is also where you would pour your heart out about things that may bother you such as the state that the world is in. Be honest and tell God how you feel but, "nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done". As we know that many things must come to pass for prophecy to be fulfilled and for Christ to return.
Verse 11, "Give us this day our daily bread." When we think of bread, we think of nourishment for our flesh. But if we recall Christ had referred to himself many times as "the bread of life". We see this in John 6:35; 6:47-51, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 11:23-25, & Matthew 4:4.
Therefore we pray for things we need both physically and spiritually. Things like food, shelter, clothing, healing, and to overcome spiritual battles.
Verse 12, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Some translations say sins/sinned against us, instead of debts/debtors. This is where we not only ask for forgiveness of our sins but we also forgive anyone who has sinned against us. For Christ reiterates in verses 14-15, that if we do not forgive, then God will not forgive.
Christ also stated in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." When you think of a small child, they quickly forgive and are loving and feel the need to be loved, accepted, and nurtured. Often times, even when wronged, a small child will take the blame.
In verse 13, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." The tempter is out there and he sets traps individually for each of us according to our weaknesses. Often times, we are able to stand against these temptations for a time but soon the bait lures us in. So we pray that we will not fall prey to this trap. You can be specific if there is a specific temptation that has been set before you. If you are not dealing with a specific temptation, you could ask that God deliver you from the snare/traps of the evil ones. I say "ones" because its not just Satan that you wrestle against but there are many evil spirits in the spiritual realm.
You end with thanks, honor, and praise. Again, think of the biblical scriptures where people have approached a king. Should we not show our Father, who has the power to deliver us from the second death even more honor?
Another question I have heard asked a lot is pertaining to verse 7, "But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Many have thought that they are using repetitions because they ask repeatedly. This is not what this verse is referring to. Elijah and many others in the biblical texts had asked for things several times. According to many Bible scholars, this is referring to an ancient practice in the worship of Apollyon. They had a strand of beads that were put on cords and they would count each bead while repeating the same prayer, mantra, chants, or devotions. These were also known as Apollyon beads. Many different religions have since adopted this practice, though the number of beads used is different, the ritual of repetitiveness is the same.
So don't feel sinful for continuing to knock on heaven's door and make your requests known before the throne of God. Be that child that won't quit asking until you get an answer.