I want to start by asking you to either open your Bible or click on the link and read Matthew 6:5-15. Go ahead. I’ll be right here waiting for you when you’re done…
Doesn’t it just fascinate you that Jesus taught on prayer? Equally so, doesn’t it then fascinate you that so many believers find themselves struggling with the concept of prayer? As I taught a room full of women tonight in Bible study, I instructed us to end our time together in groups of two praying for one another. I followed that instruction with encouragement, knowing that there were some in the room who didn’t know where to start. Prayer is simply talking to God and listening to Him speak back to you, which He does through His Word. I encouraged them by saying that it doesn’t matter how you’ve heard someone else pray, but rather just talk to your Father and let’s lift up each other’s burdens to the Lord. It’s not a game of comparisons; it’s a conversation with your Dad in Heaven. What happened next was nothing short of a blessing as women grabbed each other’s hands, bowed their heads, and prayed for one another. It was awesome. It was powerful.
Over the past several years, I have grown to truly love prayer. I happen to believe that prayer is God’s love language. He rejoices when His children talk to Him and pour out their hearts to Him. Like any good dad, our God loves His children and delights in building a relationship with them. That’s why prayer is so important. What relationship in your life can be successful without communication? The answer in none. Communication is essential for building relationships. So why are we so baffled when we wonder why we don’t feel close to God, yet we never spend time talking to Him?
Jesus knew that we would struggle with this, which is why He taught on it. Matthew 6 gives us great insight on how to pray. He starts in verse 5 by addressing the motive of the heart. Prayer should not be about impressing others, but rather drawing near to God. Although times of corporate prayer are necessary and beneficial, Jesus tells us in verse 6 that our personal relationship with God is built in solitude, one-on-one time with the Lord. And unless we would think that our many words could impress God, Jesus speaks to that as well in verses 7 and 8, affirming to us that God knows our hearts and knows what we need before we ask, which would then beg the question, “Then why ask?” Because God delights in hearing His children pray. Prayer displays faith, and Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith, we cannot please God. And then we arrive at the Lord’s Prayer in verse 9. For some of you, this has been nothing more than vain repetition, if you grew up in the Catholic Church. These words were memorized at a young age but had very little meaning to you. These words, however, are the very heart of God when it comes to prayer. It begins with praise and adoration to God, to whom it’s due. Then moving to verse 10, we see a beautiful picture of surrender: YOUR Kingdom come, YOUR will be done, not mine. Then we arrive at the requests: meet our needs, forgive our sins. But then we’re given some points of accountability: as we have forgiven our debtors. We are forgiven so that we in turn will forgive others. This forgiveness from God was not meant to be hoarded, but rather poured out. Finally, verse 13 warns us of the awareness we must have of evil and temptation and to desire to walk in righteousness.
And there you have it, God’s heart for prayer. Naturally, we insert our “specifics” as we pray, but for those that have felt lost when it comes to prayer, look no further than God’s very Word, and imitate Jesus.