Have you ever felt like you’re prayer life was missing something? I’ve been a Christian for more than 20 years. There have been seasons when I felt like I was just going through the motions of prayer, but not experiencing it like I felt I should.
If you’ve ever felt that way before, you are not alone. Many Christians I interact with struggle to have a vibrant prayer life. One one occasion the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. What He shared with them has come to be known today as the Lord’s Prayer.
In this teaching Jesus shares six actions that enhance our times of prayer. Here they are:
1. Pray Sincerely
“…When you pray, don’t be like those people who don’t know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing, thinking that God will hear them because of their many words.” – Matthew 6:5-7 (NCV)
I’ve prayed with more than a few believers who sounded like they were reciting poetry from the 17th century as opposed to beginning a conversation with their Heavenly Father. He desires to have a real and authentic relationship with us. As you enter into a time of prayer, relax and be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
2. Begin Respectfully
“So when you pray, you should pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name always be kept holy.’ “ – Matthew 6:9 (NCV)
We should be ourselves as we enter into God’s presence, but we also shouldn’t forget who we’re talking to: The God and Creator of The Universe. He deserves our love and worship. Begin by thanking God for who He is and what He has done for you.
3. Submit Humbly
“May your kingdom come and what you want be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10 (NCV)
We shouldn’t be afraid to ask God for what we want, but we should hold our desires lightly. Submitting our requests humbly before him builds our character and allows us to experience the work of God in greater ways than we ever could by clinging on to our way of doing things.
4. Ask Specifically
“Give us the food we need for each day.” – Matthew 6:11 (NCV)
God wants you to be specific with Him. It’s not disrespectful. Don’t be afraid to tell God everything that you’re feeling and how you would like him to intervene on your behalf.
5. Confess Completely
“Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.” – Matthew 6:12 (NCV)
Many Christians know the importance of confessing their sins to God and getting right with Him, but many don’t understand how important it is to our prayers that we make things right with the flesh and blood people in our lives.
What Jesus is saying here is that we need to forgive others like we want God to forgive us, because He will: “Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 NCV, emphasis added).
I’ll be honest with you; this scares me a bit. I’m not always a very forgiving person, but I know that I am a person very much in need of God’s forgiveness. Knowing that God will forgive me like I forgive those who hurt me motivates me to be more forgiving. I hope it does for you as well.
6. Conclude Dependently
“And do not cause us to be tempted, but save us from the Evil One.” – Matthew 6:13 (NCV)
Prayer is about deepening our relationship with God and discovering His will for our lives. We must continually depend on Him to meet our needs. Jesus ended His teaching on prayer by saying, In faith, we must give all our cares and concerns to God, with confidence that He will do what is right and will take care of us.
Jesus never intended the Lord’s Prayer to be a formula for how we should pray. Rather, He meant this sample prayer to serve as a guide to help us in our times of prayer to connect with God and experience an abundant and satisfying relationship with Him.
The apostle Paul said it this way: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).