One of our greatest gifts is the ability to pray and talk to God through Jesus Christ. Prayer helps strengthen our relationship with God, giving us a loving friend who's always willing to share our joys or sorrows.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we find the perfect template for how we should pray to God. If you, like many of the residents at LifeStream at North Phoenix, have memorized the Lord’s Prayer, you’ll find these familiar words also offer peace and comfort.
You can find the Lord’s Prayer in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. However, the title is a little misleading, since Jesus instructs the disciples on how to pray. Perhaps a better description would be the disciples’ or believers’ prayer.
Matthew’s version is familiar to most people:
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
We can learn how God wants us to pray and what thoughts he wants us to share by following the example in Matthew.
The prayer starts with praising God and recognizing his power and authority. As Christians, we’re called to worship and glorify God. The Book of Psalms provides some great examples of how to praise God in your prayers.
We should also acknowledge God’s infinite power and authority as we pray. Sin, sickness and death may exist here on earth, but God’s goodness and holiness will win out in the end.
Sometimes it’s easy to question God, but keep in mind he sees the whole picture while we see only a small part. Focusing on God’s promises during your prayer time can help strengthen your faith if you're struggling with worry or sorrow.
When you are alone with God, it’s the perfect time to tell him of your struggles and ask for help, whether it’s physical, mental or spiritual. Remember, the Lord loves us just like a father loves his children.
Pay special attention to the word “daily” in the passage. By asking for your daily bread, you trust God to supply today’s needs. Just as the Israelites received manna one day at a time, God provides you with the strength for each day. (Matthew 6:34)
We all have sinned and will continue to sin until we enter God’s kingdom. (Romans 3:23) We need to remember we’re not perfect, and our righteousness is only due to God’s mercy. (I John 1:9)
And, just as God is merciful to us, we need to be merciful to others. In fact, Jesus states further along, in Matthew 6:14-15, that if we expect to be forgiven ourselves, we need to forgive others.
It’s important that we don’t just pray about forgiveness and mercy but use it in our daily lives. This may mean being more patient with a busy staff member or speaking kindly to the grumpy neighbor down the hall. Jesus repeatedly said to “love our enemies” (Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27), and we can do that by letting go of grudges and focusing on forgiveness.
It’s so easy to slide down the wrong path. You get busy and suddenly realize it’s been three days since you read your Bible or prayed. A casual word with a friend and suddenly you find yourself gossiping or complaining.
Asking God to keep you from temptation shows that you realize your vulnerability. The Lord can help you resist temptation and has provided you with the tools you need.
Take time to read Ephesians 6:14, where Paul explains how the armor of God helps us stand against the devil. It’s a beautiful illustration of how the Lord gives us strength.
End your prayer by repeating that God is in control, and he will reign — over your life and over the whole earth. Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus offers one of the most powerful declarations of this as the chorus sings, “King of kings and Lord of lords, And He shall reign for ever and ever.”
Not only did Jesus instruct us on how to pray, but scripture commands us to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 states, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
If we want to be close to God, we must spend time with him. Reading our Bible is how God talks to us, and prayer is how we talk to God. By giving us expert guidance on communication through the Lord’s Prayer, God shows how much he loves and cares for us.
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