One of the biggest misconceptions in the Christian faith is in the matter of prayer. Most people would argue that prayer is meant to benefit the one praying and those around. This is known as “Corporate Prayer”. While this is not a bad thing, the direction and motivation of it is. Yesterday we looked at HOW NOT TO PRAY, today we are looking at HOW TO PRAY. Jesus gives us a MODEL for prayer. Notice I said MODEL. It was never meant to be recited as an actual prayer. The use of the words “pray like this” mean that He is using an example. So we are to PRAY by;
1. Direct your prayer to the one you are praying to.
Muslims will bow and face east (depending where they are) toward Mecca. This is to direct the prayer toward the Qibla and is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Luckily, we as Christians do not do this however, we are to align ourselves to God when we pray. Yesterday we learned that we are not to pray so that men will praise us for it. Directing our prayer toward the Creator of the universe rids our attention of worldly attention.
Not only are we to direct our prayer but we are also to;
2. Pray for a present blessing toward a future consummation of God’s rule
We are to pray for direction in our lives to align with God’s will because just as His will is being carried out in heaven so it is on earth. It is going to happen whether we are in His will or out of it. We constantly need guidance to align or re-align our will with God’s.
3. Pray that God will provide our daily need.
Bread was a necessary item in the diet. Although Jesus said that we “should not live by bread alone,” it contained some of the nutrients that our bodies need for proper functioning. Also, bread back then would go bad and mold because there were no preservatives in it. So one would need to bake fresh bread everyday or at least every few days. Jesus says that we are to ask for our daily need (bread) to show that we are solely dependent on Him for His provision. We never would want to be in a place where we no longer need His provision.
4. Pray for the forgiveness of our sins just as we forgive sins toward us.
This is the only line that contains a prerequisite. Jesus says that we should pray that our sins are forgiven LIKE we forgive others. The word “debts” here is used in the sense of sins against another. The intent is that we are reminded that our sins place us in “debt” to God. Also, Jesus is not saying that we “earn” forgiveness by forgiving. But a person “evidences” his forgiveness by forgiving others.
5. Pray that we are protected against the evil one.
If we have prayed that our sins are forgiven then we are “cured” of our sin debt to God. In order to prevent further sins against God then we must ask for protection. As long as we are here on earth we can expect to be tempted. God will never “lead us into temptation” but He most certainly will “deliver us” as He has promised.
6. End with another directive expression.
Usually prayers are ended with “In Jesus name, Amen!” But we do not see this in the Lord’s Prayer. Instead we see an assignment of glory, honor, and worthy praise toward God. We do see in Scripture that we pray in the name of Jesus but we are not to literally do it. It is better to say that we can pray BECAUSE of Jesus and what He did. (This could be another subject for another time) The example we see here from Jesus is that we end the prayer by acknowledging God and that He alone is worthy of all of our praise and honor and glory FOREVER! Amen!
After saying of of the above do we refrain from Reciting the Lord’s Prayer? Not at all! It is scripture and we know that “ALL Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Exercise for today? Pray a prayer using the example from Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this and help you with the words to say. Sometimes it is helpful to read scripture to help get you started. Remember that we communicate to God by two avenues. 1. Reading Scripture is God talking to us and 2. Prayer is us talking to God.