A Better Way to Pray
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 may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Matthew 6:5
“Why should I go to church? It’s full of hypocrites!” You’ve probably heard people say something like this. Do you cringe because there’s some truth in the statement?
Jesus would agree too. He was appalled by the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His time. So much of what they did was “so that they [would] be seen by men.” When Jesus gave the disciples some pointers on sincere prayer, one of the disciples said to Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus responded by giving the disciples a pattern to follow. We can incorporate the following characteristics in our prayers too:
Matthew 6:5-8 Pray with meaning, not in vain repetition and not to impress others. Prayers from your heart reach God’s heart whether they contain many words or few.
Matthew 6:9 Pray “Our Father, Hallowed be Your name.” Even if praying alone, remember that you are part of the family of God. He wants us to relate to Him as His children. At the same time, we must remember that He is our holy, heavenly Father.
Matthew 6:10 Pray that you will eagerly and patiently wait for the day when His purpose and Kingdom will be fully seen on earth as it is now in heaven.
Matthew 6:11 Pray for daily needs. He already knows what you need, but acknowledging that He is your Provider pleases Him.
Matthew 6:12 Pray for forgiveness. Name specific sins. Pray also that you God will enable you to freely forgive others when they sin against you.
Matthew 6:13 Pray to be protected from the Evil One and temptation. When Adam and Eve sinned, they put the earth under the curse of sin. Jesus’ death on the cross enables us to receive deliverance from the power of sin. This is both a one-time deliverance from the eternal penalty of sin as well as a continual deliverance from the sins we daily commit.
We may never fully be satisfied with the quality of our prayers. But if we humbly follow the pattern that Jesus gave the disciples, we can be sure that He will be pleased with the sincerity of our hearts.
In Luke 5:16 and 6:12 what do we learn about Jesus’ prayer life? What happened just before and following each of these two times of prayer?
In Matthew 6:14-15 what does Jesus emphasize about praying? How would this affect your prayer life?
Read 1 Chronicles 29:11 and Revelation 21:3-4. Some churches include the line “For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever” at the end of their prayers. Why is this an appropriate way to end the prayer?
Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. What does the writer say about praying for our nation? What else is involved besides words?
Nancy J. Baker