Read Luke 11:1-4.
The disciples knew there was a right way and wrong way to pray; they just needed Jesus to teach them what the right way was. The Bible has a lot to say about prayer. So much in fact, it is strange we often still ask of Jesus the same thing, “Lord, teach us to pray…”(v.1).
We know prayer is power, but we don’t always know how to access its power and grace. Jesus gave us the model prayer here, known to most as the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is short and simple compared to the prayers of hypocrites and pagans Jesus describes in Matthew chapter six. It is the humble and trusting prayer of a follower of God who knows Who it is he serves.
As Christians, we should also trust God when we pray, for Jesus said, “[Y]our Father knows what you need before you ask him” (in Matt. 6:8). We shouldn’t pray like the weight (or fate) of the world is on our shoulders. We should pray as those knowing our God is good, great, perfect, all-powerful, and loving. Our Father is working all around us, and He sees when we need something. We just need to trust Him to provide.
What then is the point of prayer? If God already knows what we need, why do we need to talk to Him? That’s like saying just because you’ve got what you need you shouldn’t talk to your earthly father anymore. We are told to still ask Him for things, but we need to trust Him when we ask: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9). Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock, but we need to do it in a respectful and trusting way knowing that God is our King, not a vending machine that gives us whatever we want. We should ask and then have faith that if it is in His perfect will, He will answer our request (see 1 John 5:14-15). This is our confidence in talking to God.
But how can we pray according to His will? Romans 8:26-27 tells us the Holy Spirit, through Whom we pray, helps us by interceding for us before God “in accordance with the will of God” (in v.27). So we don’t have to worry when we don’t know what to pray for; God’s helps us even then. Through prayer, God changes our hearts to be like His, and He helps us see things from His perspective. Paul gives an account of a situation like this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Go ahead and read it.
Paul didn’t initially understand why he was going through what he was going through, but he prayed. And the Lord revealed to him what His will was. After realizing why this “thorn” in his flesh was allowed to remain, Paul rejoiced in it. He realized that this was making God’s power shine even brighter in his life, and he was now able to see this God’s way. God uses prayer, open and authentic communication with Him, to help change us to see things the way He does.
Prayer renews our minds and refreshes our souls. It reminds us Who is truly in control of our lives and that He is good. We are told to pray at all times. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually.” Short and sweet, that’s the whole verse. When we pray, we should also thank God and rejoice in Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We should be having a constant conversation with our heavenly Father as we go through our lives.
Finally, when we’re praying, we have to be real. This is something a lot of people struggle with. We know God is righteous and we are not, but we habitually try to put our best foot forward with God. We say things we think He would like to hear and try to overlook the real problems in our lives. It’s time to cut the act. God knows how dirty and sinful you are right now, and He has also given His one and only Son to change that. You are totally accepted by our Lord not because of anything you’ve done right, so you can’t be rejected because of anything you failed to do right. God wants us to be totally open-hearted in His presence and honest about our struggles, doubts, sins, fears and disappointments. This way, He can start at the foundation, at the bedrock, at the truth, and build us and mold us to be who He’s made us to be. He can grow and heal us.
So to wrap things up, prayer is a crucial part of our faith. Without much prayer, we are seriously handicapped in our relationship with God. In prayer, we should trust that God hears and knows our needs and will provide. Prayer is respectfully making our requests to our Father. Prayer doesn’t need to be perfect; God makes us perfect through it. God changes our hearts to be like His through prayer. We should pray relentlessly and realistically before our omniscient Savior. God uses prayer to help us heal and grow.
Pray to God in whatever way and about anything you feel lead to. Talk to Him.
There is so much more to learn about prayer, and the Lord will lead us into it if we ask Him!