What is Prayer and Why Pray? (Part 1)

Matthew 6:9-10 – The Lord’s Prayer

The way I understand prayer is that it’s a dialogue between God and I. It’s talking to Him, petitioning God, asking for help and a need.

Is there a right or wrong way of praying? Definitely not!

A prayer can be as short as a cry for help:

“God, please help!”

or longer with thanksgiving, praising God, and petitioning Him for a need we have in our or someone else’s life.

A while back I looked at the Lord’s Prayer. And I believe that it can be used as a guideline, like a framework for how to pray or, as some say, petition God. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer as is covers all the petitions as well.

There are six petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. The first three, in Matthew 6:9 and 10 focus on the glory of God; and the second three, in verses 11 to 13, focus on our personal needs.*

Before we look at those verses in Matthew let’s first refer to what Jesus told his disciples when they asked Him “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1d – NKJV).

Jesus said:

Matthew 6:7-9 (NLT)
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for our Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him? Pray like this:”

Matthew 6:9b (NKJV)
Our Father in Heaven,

Surely, we are aware that we are addressing a holy God; a Father who looks at a child – in this case we are this child. Therefore, understanding that God is sovereign over the universe, we address Him as God the Father. Jesus said:

John 16:23b (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you

Jesus is saying to ask the Father in His –Jesus’—name. He is not saying: “ask Me and I will ask the Father”. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we pray according to His character. Jesus never asked His Father for a mansion by the sea or a sports car.

What are ways to address Father God? For example:

  • Dear God, our Father
  • Our heavenly Father
  • Almighty Father God
  • Everlasting Father God

The following part of verse 6

Matthew 6:9c (NKJV)
Hallowed be Your name.

asks us to pray with reverence and to praise God. When we look at God as being sovereign and reverend we put our own needs and problems in their proper perspective. God is our focus, may we start our prayers with worship, giving praise and honor to Him who is worthy of it.

What does that look like for me? Here are some examples:

  • Praised be Your Name
  • Holy are You God
  • I praise You Lord God
  • You are an awesome Father

Matthew 6:10a (NKJV)
Your kingdom come.

Here is a quote from the New Believer’s Bible* commentary on this verse:

You cannot pray ‘your Kingdom come’ until you pray ‘my kingdom go’.

After surrendering our kingdom, and after worshipping God, we pray for the fulfillment of God’s cause putting His interests first.

This is what, I think, it might look like:

  • I pray that “xxxxxx” (my friends, family, specific loved ones, etc)
    – will long for You
    – will long to know You
    – will long and seek to be close to You
    – may You convict their hearts that they will turn to You

Matthew 6:10b (NKJV)
Your will be done

We are asking God for His will to rule our life. In this petition we acknowledge that God knows what is best for us and we surrender our will to His. It also expresses a longing to see His will acknowledged throughout the world.

How does that look like in practice? Here are some examples:

  • I submit my life to You
  • Rule over my life
  • Take control of my life
  • Show me what you want me to do with my life
  • May Your will be done
  • What direction or path do you have for me today?

Matthew 6:10c (NKJV)
on earth as it is in heaven.

William MacDonald comments in the Believer’s Bible Commentary :

This phrase modifies all three preceding petitions. The worship of God, the sovereign rule by God, and the performance of His will are all a reality of Heaven. The prayer is that these conditions might exist on earth as they do in heaven”. #

  • Lord, You want us to be happy in You, please guide us in following You

What are your thoughts?
Do you think that the Lord’s Prayer can be our guide into prayer?
Feel free to leave me a comment; I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

May our hearts rejoice in the Lord always!

I hope this post is an encouragement to you in your walk with the Lord.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NKJV)
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

To God be the Glory!

Note: Scripture quoted was taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*New Believer’s Bible-First Steps for New Christians-Greg Laurie-General Edition
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

#Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald

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