Developing A Proper Prayer Life
Matthew 6:9-13— “After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
One of the greatest resources that we have as believers is praying to our heavenly Father. Prayer is a vital aspect to any Christian, for it is through prayer that we develop a relationship with our heavenly Father. Sadly, in the day and age in which we live, there are fewer Christians who pray than ever before. In fact, I heard a statement made years ago by my grandfather; he said there are scores of individuals in the church who praise a God they no longer pray to.
Many relegate prayer to praying over our food or saying a little nursery rhyme before bed; however, prayer is much more than that. It is communicating with God through Jesus Christ. It is going before the Lord on a daily basis and seeking His face, seeking His will, and asking Him to meet our daily needs.
Also, I think I can say without contradiction that most Christians really do not know how to pray. Hopefully, in this article, we can dissect the verses known as the Lord’s Prayer and help you to better understand what you have at your disposal. Once you have this understanding, my hope is that it will help you develop a proper prayer life that will benefit you for the rest of your Christian life.
There are two instances where the Lord’s Prayer is mentioned in Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The difference between the two is that in Luke, the Lord’s Prayer is a condensed version of what is found in Matthew 6:9-13. Both are meant to represent how we as believers ought to pray. In both versions, I believe that we can break these down into three sections: God’s interests, our desires, and our daily dangers.
NOT ‘IF’ YOU PRAY, BUT ‘WHEN’ YOU PRAY
Before we break these sections down, I would like to begin in Matthew 6:6. Jesus tells His disciples, and explains to us, as well, an extremely important statement: “When you pray.” This means that prayer is done a certain way with certain things that we are to do and say.
In Luke, when asked by His disciples, Jesus responded by saying, “When you pray.” Notice, Jesus did not say, “if you pray,” but “when you pray.” Once again, prayer is such a vital part of the Christian life that it is one of the most powerful forces in which we can partake. When we enter into that time of prayer, we enter into a relationship that is unlike anything on this earth—a relationship with our heavenly Father, who can do for us what no one else can do. We are coming before God, who created the universe with a simple word, who brought into existence things that were not there previously, and who created something out of nothing. This means that we enter into a relationship with One who can do absolutely anything. At the same time, we can be absolutely certain that our prayers will be heard by our heavenly Father, who resides in heaven.
If we are to have a proper relationship with our heavenly Father, then we must understand that prayer is imperative, for without prayer, there is no relationship. Allow me to take it one step further: Without a proper prayer life, there can be no relationship with God. If any relationship is to be established, then prayer is essential. When we pray, we are to make God’s interests our own. When we do that, He will make our interests His.
I want to start with the very first section mentioned above, “God’s Desires,” which, I believe, speaks of His ultimate desire, which is to have a personal relationship with His children. God wants to have a bond with you—a bond that cannot be shaken or torn apart. He desires to be closer than a brother—the One to whom you go in the time of need; the One whom you seek on a daily basis to grant you the desires of your heart. God does not desire to simply watch from afar. Rather, He wants to be intimately involved in your everyday walk, and He desires that you have a close walk and relationship with Him. This can only happen through Jesus Christ and our faith in the finished work of Christ.
Going back to Matthew 6:9, Jesus laid out to His disciples a guideline, if you will, on how we are to pray. It is commonly known now as the Lord’s Prayer. Incidentally, in this prayer, there are seven petitions listed, with three being toward God and four being toward our fellowman. Jesus began by saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
OUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN
The term “Our Father,” as used by Jesus, is meant to point to our heavenly Father, who is God. Now, God can only be our heavenly Father through the born-again experience. In other words, He is not everyone’s heavenly Father, but rather the Father of all who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. He is not the Father of the heathen or the Father of those who have rejected Christ. This term, Father, can only be used by those who are a part of the family of God, an heir of the Father, and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, His Son (Rom. 8:15-17). In fact, according to Romans, Chapter 8, we have been adopted into this family through our faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for us at the Cross, and because of that, we can look to God as our Father.
I want to stress this once again for anyone who is not saved: That person cannot look to God as his personal heavenly Father, for he has not been grafted into the family of God but is on the outside looking in. In order to proclaim that God is your personal heavenly Father, you must first experience what it is to be born again—to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour. Once a person has come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, that person is guaranteed that his heavenly Father will hear his every cry, will meet his every need, and will be able to do for him what no other power can do. As an earthly father will do what he can to meet the needs of his children, how much greater will our heavenly Father meet the needs of those who love Him?
When we begin our prayer, it is imperative that we start off by praying to our heavenly Father. This speaks of relationship. We are not to pray directly to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, or anyone else, but we are to begin by going straight to the Father in the name of Jesus.
In John 16:23, Jesus said, “And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.”
Now, this is extremely important: Jesus tells us that when we pray, or when we ask for what we need, we pray to the Father, but in the name of Jesus. This means that all blessings come to us by our heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, and all petitions are to be made to the Father in the name of Jesus. This means that due to the Cross of Christ and our faith in His finished work, we are given direct access to our heavenly Father.
This article will be continued in the December issue of The Evangelist.
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