How Should We Pray???
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray. We can find this prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and here in Luke 11:2-4.
Luke 11:2-4 says, “He said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (NIV)
Growing up in a Presbyterian Church, I remember memorizing and reciting this prayer each and every Sunday. It was just something we did. I was always focused on getting the words right, never on what the words meant and why were they written. Why did we say this prayer every Sunday? Did this make God happy just for us to say it by rote?
The Bible teaches that God is more interested in our hearts when we pray than He is in the words that we say. When we pray, we are to pour our hearts out to God, not simply recite memorized words to God.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about evverything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)
The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern of how to pray. The disciples were eager to learn HOW to pray. The disciples watched Jesus pray. They were so enamored with how He prayed and was filled with the power of His prayer, that as soon as He was finished praying, they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray”. There was something about watching Jesus pray that made them want to learn how to pray as Jesus did. The disciples sensed the closeness that Jesus had with God the Father as he prayed. They needed to learn that it is more important that they learn TO PRAY, not necessarily how to pray. Just as the disciples, our greatest need is to learn TO PRAY and TO PRAY all of our days!
The fact that Jesus taught this prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and then repeated it here in Luke shows how important it is. The fact that He did not repeat it the exact same way as in Matthew shows that it was not to be used as a precise ritual or magic formula for prayer.
“Father” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to – The Father.
“Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God and to praise Him for who He is.
“your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in your lives and the world. We are not praying that our own plan will turn out perfect. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not our own desires.
“give us each day our daily bread” encourages us to ask God for the things we need. Jesus shares with His disciples that they should ask for daily provisions. (Asking God daily reminds us that He wants us to seek Him every day! )
“forgive us our sins as we have also forgive everyone who sins against us” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.
So, again, the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite back to God. It is only an example of how we should be praying. Should we pray the Lord’s prayer back to God? Yes! If our heart is in it and we truly mean the words we say.
We all have days when we struggle to pray. Sometimes it is hard to have moments to sit and pray. But the good thing is that God listens to our prayers, big or small. He wants us to have conversations with Him. And thankfully when we are struggling with what to say, we have this prayer that Jesus shared to use as a model.
This week, let us commit to prayer. No matter how big or small, let us take time to have those daily conversations with the Lord. Remember, God is far more interested in our communicating with Him and speaking from our hearts than He is in the specific words we use.