BIG IDEA |
Prayer promotes relationship with God.
(For full sermon audio, listen here...)
Many of us don’t pray or we feel very insecure when we do, because we’re uncertain HOW to pray. Prayer is not about getting what we want, forcing God’s hand, or fulfilling a religious obligation. It’s about relating with God.
If anyone is going to teach you how to pray, wouldn’t you want it to be Jesus? The good news is He has done exactly that in Matthew 6:5-15.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, it’s important to note He advised them to “Pray then like this” (v.9) He didn’t say “pray this specific prayer” or “pray these exact words”. While we shouldn't pray this prayer mindlessly, Jesus did provide us with five signs, or categories to guide our prayer life:
1. Pray for God to honored as holy.
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” (v. 9)
Jesus points out that we should pray to God as Father, always conscious that His name is more than a mere means of identification. God’s name is His person, who He is, His reputation. He is perfect in everything He says, does, and is. We don’t make God holy; He is holy.
In every aspect of our lives we should desire to honor God as the holy God He truly is.
2. Pray for God’s will to be done.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (v.10)
Because God is perfect, holy, and eternally good, His will is always best. This should be our desire over anything else we might want or think. God is pleased when we present our requests to Him, but we do so in full submission to what He deems best.
Jesus Himself accomplished our salvation by submitting to the perfect will of the Father and we must do the same.
3. Pray for your daily needs.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (v.11)
“Daily bread” covers everything we need: our income, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
God has promised to supply all our needs, but He is never obligated to give us everything we want simply because we ask.
4. Pray for forgiveness of sin.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (v.12)
Prayer promotes our relationship with God. When we sin, we offend God and create a debt. Thankfully, Jesus paid the ultimate price for the debt of our sin through His life, death, and resurrection but we are still in daily relationship with God and need to ask for forgiveness.
Bitterness, however, can block our prayers, which is why Jesus adds “as we also have forgiven our debtors”. If we are holding a grudge or harboring a hurt against someone, it’s important that we know we must forgive them before we can expect God to forgive us.
Forgiven people forgive people.
5. Pray for spiritual protection.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. “ (v.13)
When we are tempted to sinful actions and attitudes throughout the day, it is not because God is tempting us. James 1:13 says: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”
God does test the sincerity of our faith by allowing us to experience seasons and situations that tempt us. In prayer, we are to appeal to God to protect and sustain us through those times.
Here are a few practical suggestions for implementing these guidelines:
- Ignore the clock – Don’t worry about length, just talk to God.
- Pray out loud – You’re less likely to get distracted if you pray audibly.
- Make a list – Keeping track of what and who you need to pray about will help direct your prayers
- Speak your heart – Lay before God what is really going on inside you, not what should be.
- Remember the gospel – Your sin separated you from a holy God, but in His love He took on human flesh and died in your place to pay for that sin, restoring your relationship with Him through faith. Prayer then is an act of gratitude and worship.
We pray not so that God will love us, but because He already does. By God's grace, let's shun our self-dependence and practice practical dependence on God through prayer.
(Adapted by Diane Rivers from sermon entitled, "How To Pray Like Jesus)
Questions for further reflection:
Is my prayer sincere and simple?
Where does my life not honor God?
Where am I not trusting God’s will?
Where do I need God’s provision?
What do I need God’s forgiveness from? Who do I need to forgive?
What temptations do I need God’s protection in?