How should you pray?

How should you pray?

The best thing that we can do to know how to pray, is to listen to what the Lord Jesus teaches us about it. In Matthew 6, He first of all says that we should not use prayer as a religious ceremony to impress others.

Communion with God

Prayer is communion with God. The most beautiful definition of prayer in the Bible is from a woman who said “I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15). So we may take anything that is important to us in prayer to the Lord, and tell Him about it in our own words.

The Lord’s prayer

The Lord Jesus also taught us the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Most Christians have memorized this prayer. We know that when we pray this prayer, we pray according to God’s will. But this prayer also teaches us what is important when we pray using our own words:

  1. We talk to God as to our Father, who loves us and takes care of us.
  2. We give glory to God. We praise him in our prayers.
  3. We confess that God’s plans are more important than our plans, and that we desire for his plans to come true.
  4. We pray for our daily needs. We trust that God will take care of us.
  5. We pray for the forgiveness of our sins, in the knowledge that God has already forgiven us in the Lord Jesus.
  6. We pray God will help us to lead a life that is honoring him.
  7. We acknowledge the greatness of God. Normally, we end our prayers with something like ‘we pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen’.

God himself helps us to pray

This is based on the Lord Jesus’ words that we should pray ‘in his name’ (John 16:23-24). It is an acknowledgment that all God’s blessings are flowing to us through Jesus Christ. Like everything we do, our prayers are not perfect. But there is a great promise in the Bible that encourages all believers. God himself helps us to pray as we should through his Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 says: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

What is meant here is that the Holy Spirit guides us in our prayers. What a beautiful thought: God wants us to pray to him. He knows how weak we are, and how difficult it is to pray in the right way. So God the Holy Spirit inspires us to direct the words to God that God desires.

We can always pray

Finally, we can always pray. There are special times of prayer when God’s church meets. There are times of prayer in our families. There are individual times of prayer when we are alone with God. But we may also pray continuously throughout the day.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing“. With words spoken aloud or in our hearts, we may bring all the things that we see, experience, or think about before the Lord. For prayer is the life breath of the Christian.

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Marten Visser

Marten Visser (1971), experienced a call from the Lord to be a missionary while in Kindergarten. He received M.Div., Th.M. in Missiology, M.A. in cultural anthropology degrees and a Ph.D. degree in Theology. In 2000 he became a church planting missionary in Thailand with OMF, together with his wife Esther. In 2015 he returned to the Netherlands where he founded GlobalRize. He continues to serve as GlobalRize’s director of evangelism.

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