The Bible gives a very clear guideline for prayers that are effective. The disciples had been watching Jesus pray on a regular basis. Eventually they came to Him and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Is that where we are at? Do we want to be taught? Are we satisfied with our prayer lives? It is well worth our effort to examine what Jesus taught His disciples about prayer. They became experts in a few short years thanks to the Holy Spirit. Jesus took His novice pray-ers and gave them what we now know as the Lord’s Prayer. If we wish to become better pray-ers, we need to learn what they learned. In Matthew 6:9-13, we read:
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’”
This prayer is given as a guideline for how we ought to pray as a general rule. Sometimes we will pray a quick thanksgiving prayer or ask God for help at a moment’s notice. But generally, God is honored when we address Him with reverence and fear, praising His name and Who He is. Prayer ought to start out with praise whether in a group or all by ourselves. God needs to be exalted in our hearts even if we do not feel like it. It is a way for getting our hearts in the right posture and mindset. We are entering the presence of the God of the universe, the jealous God, and the God Who is a consuming fire. It is time for reverence and respect. We ought to address our prayers to the Father. The Son tells us to pray to the Father, and He now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. Our prayers are to go through Jesus as the Spirit enables to the Father. We then should pray for the kingdom in general to advance. We should pray for the church to influence culture, for souls to come to Christ, for God’s ways to be reflected in government and in our sphere of influence. Our prayer should be that we will see heavenly ways replicated on earth.
We are told to pray for daily bread to meet our needs for each day and to be able to have strength to serve the Lord. This helps us consecrate ourselves to Him, asking for opportunities to stand for righteousness and share our faith that day. It is a clear admission of our need for and dependence upon God.
We also should ask for forgiveness for any outstanding sin. If we regard sin in our hearts, God will not even hear our prayers. In addition, we must forgive those who have sinned against us, giving up any spirit of vengefulness, bitterness, and anger. Having set our focus on God and pursuing His purposes for our lives that day, we can expect Satan to come at us with everything he’s got. Therefore, we are told to pray that God will keep us from falling into temptation and evil. We can pray that God will keep temptation from even coming our way. The final part of the prayer is not in all of the original manuscripts, but it sure can’t hurt to praise God one final time for His power and glory.
The end of a prayer is prayed in the name of Jesus, for only through Him do we have the right to go to the Father. John says, “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” Prayer is to the Father in the name of Jesus, without Whom we cannot access the presence and throne of God. Since, however, we have Jesus in our hearts, we can approach the throne of grace boldly to receive help in time of need (Hebrews ). The prayer is closed with “Amen,” meaning “so be it,” “I agree,” or “may it be done.”
The Lord’s Prayer is our model for prayer. It is a basic outline, but it can be very helpful for organizing our prayer lives and for guiding a corporate prayer meeting.