Pray like Jesus
Jesus told them, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
There are two main problems many people have with praying and prayer. First, we may feel like we do not know how to pray which leads us to think we are not praying “right”, so we stop altogether. This causes distance between us and God. It is hard for us then to ask for help from someone we haven’t talked to in a long time. The second problem is we may get so wrapped up in the words that we overdo it, as Jesus was saying the Gentiles were doing. Instead of getting straight to the point and talking with God, we go on and on. Jesus understands our struggle and is there to help teach us how to talk to our Father.
First, Jesus tells us, “your Father knows what you need before you ask!” How wonderful it is to know that God already knows what we need! It is so much easier to ask for something when we know the person we’re asking already knows what we are asking for, but is just waiting for us to come to them for help. It is similar to a parent waiting for a child to ask for something, and they want to allow them the chance to come and actually ask it. God wants turn to Him and to build a real relationship with us, not just give us what we need. Communication builds that relationship.
Jesus teaches us the perfect prayer, the Our Father. It is simple and straightforward and keeps the focus on the things we need to ask for. There are also times when we would like to ask for our own personal intentions and just talk with God, so here are some suggestions when praying based on the format Jesus gave us.
Pray like this:
- Begin by praising God and who He is in heaven. Almighty, forgiving, merciful, or whatever attribute you can use to describe who God is and what He has done for you.
- Thank Him for all of your blessings, even for those things that may not have been what you asked for but turned out for the best. There is blessing in the word ‘no’, and we should appreciate those too.
- Ask for forgiveness for the sins that were committed, and for help in forgiving others who have hurt you.
- Ask Him to please provide for you and all of your needs, and the needs of your family.
- Acknowledge that it is God’s will that is to be done, not our own and then ask for those things you would like to have, your intentions.
- Ask for all of this in the name of Jesus! Jesus tells us, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
Remember too, there are times when we are at a loss for words. We may be so sad or upset we just can’t think or talk. During those times, say the sign of the cross and say, “Lord, you know what I need, please comfort me” and be still. We are told in Romans 8:26, that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and will intercede for us when we don’t know what to say.
Lent in Action:
Get on your knees and say a heartfelt prayer to God.
Father in Heaven, You are almighty, loving, and always looking out for me and my family. Thank you for all that you have given to me, and all that you have withheld from me when you know what is best. Please forgive me for those times when I did not treat someone who needed my mercy or forgiveness the way that your Son treated those in need of mercy and forgiveness. I am truly sorry and with your help show me how to forgive. Please provide for me and my family all of our needs for food, shelter and clothing. I ask for all of this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.