Quite often I feel at a loss to know how to talk to God. How do I approach Him? What do I say to Him? What needs to be said?
I wasn’t born knowing how to pray. I wasn’t even born again knowing how to pray. I have to learn, and keep on learning, how to pray. And prayer–what to say to God–is best learned by learning about God, and about what He cares about.
That’s why Jesus is the master teacher on prayer: He understands what God cares about, and what we need from God. As the perfect union of deity and humanity, He is uniquely positioned to receive prayer as God, and offer prayer as a man.
Jesus knows how to talk to God.
So, when I feel at a loss to know how to pray, I return to the prayer Jesus taught His disciples.
I used to think of the Lord’s Prayer as just that: a prayer. But, I’ve learned that it’s both a simple prayer, and a profound pattern for prayer. In it, Jesus taught us about God, and what God cares about, and what we need from Him. We can talk to God about those things over and over, all our life long, in word and thought, song and silence.
Below, I’ve called out five themes* Jesus taught us to talk to God about in this beautifully simple prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13.
[*I learned these themes from Randy Pope, pastor of Perimeter Church, Johns Creek, Georgia.]
9Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Make the theme of God’s honor, glory and praise the core of your praying. Along with this, rejoice that God is your true Father; He embraces you as His son or daughter for His Unique Son’s sake.
10Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
When you pray, remind yourself that you are part of God’s mission to build His kingdom. Pray desiring His will to be done in you, through you, around you, and around the world.
11Give us this day our daily bread,
Pray expressing your humble dependence on His provision with complete contentment in what He gives, and withholds. Pray trusting Him to provide all your needs today through your labor, or others’.
12and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Pray admitting your flaws, failures, and disobedience to Him. Confess this, asking God’s forgiveness for Christ’s sake in whom you trust. Pray considering how much He forgives from you, that you may learn to forgive those who wrong you.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Pray remembering how He promises to defend you from the Evil One, and deliver you from eternal death. Pray asking for daily grace to live to His honor, for His kingdom, with His provision, and in His gracious forgiveness.
I hope you’ll learn to weave these themes into your heart and mind to creatively structure a life-long pattern for praying.
I’m learning with you.
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