Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV) In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father 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 forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
I chose the New King James Version because of its intro to what we know as The Lord’s Prayer. It says, “in this manner,” which means you aren’t being asked to memorize and repeat this exact prayer over and over. Full disclosure: I definitely have had my children memorize this and we pray it before dinner every Friday.
The point is that these aren’t the magic words we’re supposed to pray. If you ever catch yourself trying to pray the “right” thing, stop. You don’t earn your answers to prayer by “doing it right.”
Daniel 9:18b For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.
Daniel 9:18 (NASB) …for we are not presenting our pleas before You based on any merits of our own, but based on Your great compassion.
We get to go boldly up to the throne of God and ask for (and receive) help because Jesus bought us access to the Father. It’s His righteousness, His right standing with the Father, that allows us to approach without fear and make our requests. That’s what we’re doing when we pray in Jesus’ name. We don’t need to say those special words; we need to come to God as one who can say, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Jesus is always welcome before His father.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
More important than the words is the attitude. You don’t have to have the right words, but you should have the right attitude. You need to recognize that He is God and you are not. Don’t tell God what to do. Humbly ask for help and let Him figure out what’s best. That’s what we’re praying when we ask that God’s will be done. We want to live His way, not ours. You can ask Him to have His way with your life.
The first part of the Lord’s prayer is honoring the Lord. “Holy is Your name!” He is high and exalted and set apart and greater than all.
If you ever don’t know what to pray, prayers that you can always say are prayers of thanksgiving and praise. God is good. God is great! God is loving and kind and perfect in every way and in all that He does. He gives us all that we have. He makes the sun to rise each morning. The Bible tells us to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. So it is always the “right prayer” to praise and give thanks.
We can ask God for the things we need. He likes to meet the needs of His children. If you are going to ask Him, rely on Him to meet the need. Don’t ask and then ignore Him. Look for Him to answer. Don’t go act like He’s not going to help, so you have to take care of it yourself. If you pray and ask Him for your daily food, then acknowledge that He gave it to you. Thank Him for the food, for the money to get the food, for its nourishment to your body. Acknowledge Him as the one who provides the help you asked for.
When our family prays the forgiveness part, we say it like this, “Forgive us our sins, and we forgive all who sinned against us.” The Lord’s prayer teaches that we won’t be forgiven unless we forgive, so we just skip to the forgive part and make sure we do it! Jesus paid your debt on the cross, and He paid everyone else’s too. No one owes you a debt. Wipe it out! If you need help forgiving, ask for it. When God forgives, He removes our sin from His sight. We’re to be imitators of God. Ask God to help you forget! God is willing and able to help.
The last part of the prayer, before it closes out with more praise, is to ask for protection. We don’t want to sin. We ask God to keep us. To keep is to guard. The keep of a castle is the strong tower in the middle that was the last line of defense against invaders, the safest place of the castle. Ask God to keep you. We want to be kept from sin, from self, from the devil. He can and will be our defense. Ask Him to guard you and trust Him to do it. Thank Him for doing it! This also means that if something gets past the defense, we can know He has a purpose in it!
Prayer is many things. It’s having those fellowship conversations with God. It’s an ongoing stream of praise and thanksgiving through the day. It’s stopping and kneeling and humbly making requests and then leaving to again rejoice and give thanks because you trust Him to take care of it. Prayer can be just a heart-cry, tears. Prayer can be silent. Prayer can just be one word. The Bible talks a lot about crying out and praying with a loud voice. We can pray alone. We can pray together.
The only “right” way to pray is to be humble in it, or at least to find humility along the way. 🙂
Amen, by the way, means, “So be it.” May it be so, Lord!
Lesson Point: Jesus gives us an example of how we can pray. We need to approach God with Jesus’ character and authority and have humble hearts full of thanksgiving and praise.
Challenge Question: Do you see prayer as valuable? Valuable enough that you turn to prayer first when there is a problem? Do you keep thanksgiving and praise as part of your day?