What is Prayer and How Should Christians Pray?
Prayer for the Christian has historically been defined as follows: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of His Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.”
Prayer, when rightly understood, is the most blessed, tender, and breathtaking topic to consider. When you pray as a born again believer in Christ, you are speaking to God who is: Everlasting, All Powerful, All Knowing, Everywhere Present, who dwells in inaccessible light, who is your Creator, and who is Holy. This is who the Christian prays to. This is who hears the prayers of His followers. Who among us fallen, corrupt, and immoral mankind has access to a king or world leader? The answer is not many of us. But when we as Christ followers pray, we are speaking to the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is truly a privilege to have access to God Almighty, a privilege that should never be neglected as a born again follower of Christ. When we neglect our privilege to pray, we are the ones who suffer. We are the ones who make this life harder than it needs to be by our lack of prayer. For these reasons it is necessary to better understand prayer and its function in the believers life. To do this, we will look at Christ’s words as found in Matthew 6:5-9 where He teaches His followers how to pray.
Our Father which art in Heaven…
“And when you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they will be seen by people. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven,…
Christ in Matthew 6:5-8 spells out some do’s and don’ts to His followers on how to pray. Your motive for prayer should not be a self-righteous and prideful motive, but one of a pure heart and with sincerity. It should never be done to get people to see how godly you are or how much you know about the Bible. It should be done in a reverent manner with careful acknowledgment of who the Father is and who it is you are speaking to. Also, prayer should not consist of thoughtless repetitions, i.e. stock sentences or empty phrases. Unsaved people pray that way, but God is not impressed by the mere multiplication of many words. He desires to hear the sincere expressions of your heart. It is important to note that “The Lord’s Prayer” should never be thought of as a secret password or formula for prayer. Christ Himself never prayed these words and we should not think that if we just say these certain set of words God will hear us more and give us whatever we ask. These words are a “model” after which we can pattern our prayers. They are to be used as a framework and not necessarily as exact words to say. If we use them over and over again we can possibly run into what Christ calls “thoughtless repetitions”. Remember that God knows the things we have need of, even before we ask Him. Why should we pray if God already knows what we need? The reason is that, in prayer, we acknowledge our need and dependence on Him. Prayer is mainly for us; it is one of His many means of Grace in our lives. God is our Heavenly Father and like any loving earthly father, our Heavenly Father also loves to hear from His children and to receive their acknowledgement and love. Prayer is that vehicle by which we come to God and align our will to His.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ let us remember to always acknowledge who God is when we come to pray. God is Everlasting, Unchanging, All Powerful, All Knowing, Everywhere Present, He dwells in inaccessible light, He is your Creator and Sustainer, and most of all He is Holy, Holy, Holy. The first set of words in Christ’s model for prayer is “Our Father who is in Heaven”… Prayer should always be addressed to God the Father in acknowledgement of His sovereignty over you and the universe. Should you pray only for the big things in your life? Should you leave out the small things? Remember who God is; everything that you bring to God is a small thing compared to who He is and what He can do. There is nothing too Big, nothing too small, pray about everything! God is so patient and gracious to us; He always listens to His children’s prayers. We should never be those who are reluctant to come to God even when it comes to confessing sin. He is a loving Father and will receive and correct you and help you to repent. You need Him, you can’t do it by yourself. If you are praying about something that God has chosen not to answer, be patient, perhaps it is the wrong timing, perhaps it will come in the future or perhaps the answer is no. His no is always wiser than our yes. His wait is always better than our hurry. His timing is always the best timing. Remember that God is your loving Father who takes care of you and who holds you in the palm of His hand. Trust Him and in His promises, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28.