Here’s How to Pray
The God who sits at the controls of the universe is a living,active God. He controls all power, energies and forces. He sits on a magnificent throne overlooking a dazzling glassy sea that gleams like crystal. Surrounding Him on lesser thrones are 24 impressive spirit beings wearing crowns of gold who serve as His counselors. Around His throne are four more spirit beings of even greater office, power and brilliance. And at His right hand is the living JesusChrist. Out from God’s throne proceed flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder—and angelic messengers going to and from Earth (Revelation 4).
Do you know this God? Do you pray to this God? You should! Because as great and powerful as the true God is, He delights in the person who seeks to know Him and talk to Him in prayer (Proverbs 15:8).
One of the hardest things for many people to learn is how to pray effectively. But you can come to communicate with the all-powerful God of the universe!
The Purpose of Prayer
1. Does God command us to pray? Luke 18:1; 21:36. Does He expect to hear from us? Matthew 6:5; Luke 11:2. Note the words “when you pray.”
2. Why does God command us to pray? Does the Apostle Paul show that no one is righteous of himself? Romans 3:10. Is the human mind, without God’s Spirit, opposed to God? Romans 8:7-9. What about the heart, which the Bible uses to represent the basic motives and intentions of the mind? Jeremiah 17:9.
3. Who is ultimately responsible for inspiring human nature and all the evil in the world? 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2. Has he indeed deceived the whole world? Revelation 12:9.
Satan broadcasts evil moods, attitudes and impulses to human minds, but he has no power to force anyone to think or do wrong. Though no one is compelled to respond to and obey Satan’s impulses, the unsuspecting automatically do so without realizing what is taking place in their minds. Humans have thus acquired Satan’s nature, which we call “human nature.”
4. Do Christians who are aware of Satan’s influence still stumble and commit sin because of weakness or temptation? 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:15-24.
5. How can mere humans possibly overcome the power of Satan and the pulls of the flesh? Romans 7:25; Philippians 4:13. How does Christ strengthen us? Philippians 1:19.
The Holy Spirit is the power of God, which Jesus Christ supplies to true Christians. It enables Christ to live in us (Galatians 2:20) and gives us the strength to overcome. However, we must ask the Father, in prayer, for that help (Luke 11:13).
6. How crucial is the Holy Spirit in a true Christian’s life? Romans 8:13-14.
Eternal life is unattainable without the Holy Spirit working in our lives! And it must be replenished daily.
Daily prayer is essential for salvation, for without God’s help, none of us can overcome the downward pulls of our human nature that lead to sin. Only those who overcome sin and develop the righteous character of God through the power of God’s Spirit may become sons of God (Revelation 21:7). Without active and effective prayer, therefore, we can never be born into God’s Family. That is why God commands us to pray! Prayer is not an optional religious exercise. It is a core need that affects your eternal destiny!
God Wants to Know You
God talks to us through His written Word, the Holy Bible, and we can talk to Him through prayer. Prayer is our part of a two-way conversation with God! This allows us to get to know God as He comes to know us.
1. Does God want us to seek Him and make our requests known? Isaiah 55:6-7; Matthew 7:7; Philippians 4:6.
God wants us to tell Him, as we would a parent or close friend, how we feel and what we think. We do this through heartfelt prayer. Prayer is personal, private, sincere communication with our Creator.
2. Does God hear and delight in the prayers of those who seek to please Him and do His will? Psalm 34:17; Proverbs 15:8; 1 Peter 3:12.
3. Can God know our needs even before we tell Him? Matthew 6:8. Will He give us those things we ask for? Matthew 21:22; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15.
God knows what is good for us. He will supply our every need if we ask according to His will, and if we believe and obey His laws.
How We Should Pray
One of Jesus’s students asked Him to teach the disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1). Christ gave His disciples a prayer outline after which to pattern their own prayers. These instructions are found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
1. Did Jesus tell His disciples to pray in a private place or a public place? Matthew 6:5-6. What time of day did He pray? Mark 1:35. What was Jesus’s physical position when He prayed? Luke 22:41.
It is important to pray in a private place. Make an effort to kneel down on both knees when you pray—this shows God that you respect Him. Also, set aside a regular time to pray. For many people, morning is best, before the distractions of the day begin.
2. Did Christ tell His disciples to repeat His sample prayer over and over, or did He tell them to pray in a similar way—“after this manner”? Matthew 6:9. Did He previously tell them not to repeatedly recite the exact same prayer? Verse 7.
Jesus did not call this the “Lord’s Prayer” as many do today. He didn’t want His disciples to memorize and repeat this passage when they prayed. Nor did He want them to pray only for themselves. (The words “I,” “me” or “my” don’t appear once in these verses.) Christ was outlining the unselfish, correct approach to God in prayer and the basic things we should ask for.
3. Notice how Jesus began His example of a complete prayer. To whom did He say we should pray? Verse 9.
Jesus came to reveal the Father (John 1:18), and He always addressed the Father in His prayers. When you speak to the Father in prayer, you have a personal audience with the Supreme Ruler of all things! Most people would treasure a private meeting with a king or prime minister or president. How much greater is the privilege of coming before the Father’s throne daily!
4. Are we to honor, or “hallow,” the Father’s name when we pray? Matthew 6:9, last four words. Did King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), approach God in an attitude of praise, worship and adoration? Psalm 18:1-3; 104:33.
When we begin our prayers, we should not only address and think of God as our Father, but also honor and praise His great name, His magnificent office, His sterling character and His outgoing love toward mankind. We should thank Him for our existence, for our family and for our material possessions.
5. How did Jesus continue His model prayer? Matthew 6:10, first sentence.
When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are asking for and looking forward to the time when God’s family government will be established on Earth through the return of Jesus Christ as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). We yearn for the time when the devil will be restrained from influencing humanity for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). We earnestly desire the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:19-21), a time of peace, happiness and prosperity for everyone.
6. What did Jesus say in the second part of Matthew 6:10?
In this section of your prayers, ask God to help you understand and surrender to His will. Ask God to show you how to live His way. Ask God to direct every aspect of His end-time Work.
7. What is the next request of Jesus’s sample prayer? Verse 11.
Although not put first, this request is necessary. We need to ask God to supply our daily needs: adequate food, clothing, shelter and other necessities. Christ set the example of praying for others’ needs as well (John 17:20). We ought to do the same.
8. Should we also ask forgiveness for our sins? Matthew 6:12. (The word debts refers to sins.)
All of us sin in one way or another. We need to recognize and repent of our habitual sins and ask our merciful Father to forgive us (Psalm 86:5) and to help us overcome those sins.
We must also learn to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). God will forgive us only if we are willing to forgive others. We should ask God to help us be merciful, especially to those who may have offended us in some way (Luke 6:28).
9. What is the last request of Jesus’s model prayer? Matthew 6:13, first sentence. This statement is better translated: “Bring us not into sore trial, but deliver us from the evil one [Satan].”
We should pray daily and fervently that God would not allow us to be brought unnecessarily into severe trial or temptation, and that He would help us to reject wrong desires and do His will.
10. Before concluding our prayers, in whose name should we acknowledge that we are praying? John 16:23, second sentence.
All our requests should be made in Jesus’s name. We can rightfully ask God for things “in Jesus’s name” when we know it is His will—that His authority stands behind our requests!
Christ’s inspired prayer outline in Matthew 6 ends with praise and adoration, just as it began (verse 13). This refocuses us on the character and office of the true God who rules over His creation. Finally, as Jesus shows by this example prayer, we are to conclude with the word amen, which simply means, “Be it so.”
11. How often should we pray? Psalm 55:16-17; Daniel 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Both David and Daniel prayed at least three times a day. This helped them stay close to God. Remaining in a prayerful attitude all day long is what it means to “pray without ceasing.”
If you haven’t begun to do so, start now to establish direct contact with your Creator. Pray to God every day. You’ll begin to experience blessings beyond measure. God delights in all those who talk to Him!