Asking Jesus how to Pray

With the National Day of Prayer just this past week I wonder how often & how freely we pray?

I’ve found that when one struggles to pray it’s often because they struggle with their view of God, or have a faulty understanding of prayer itself. Both of these issues are addressed when Jesus gave us His simple blueprint for prayer.

Prayer isn’t hard – no need for complex words, or heady concepts. There is no “performance” in prayer. Jesus gave this example of the sorts of things one might say to God:

 Therefore, you should pray like this…

Note: Jesus didn’t say “You should PRAY THIS…” – it’s not something that is only useful if quoted word for word. This is simply a roadmap of how we might converse with God. Pray like this…

Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.

Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

Our Father…” right off the bat, this would’ve thrown some people listening. Jesus not only had a unique intimacy with the Father, He was opening the door to that intimacy for us! The word we translate “Father” is a word based upon an infant’s first sound – “Abba.” It’s akin to me saying “Dada.” Yes, Jesus likely would have turned more than a few heads here, but the message was clear: we don’t come to Jesus terrified of an angry King, but as little kids to their loving Dad. He’s happy to hear from us – happy to see us.

But here’s the catch: He’s not “my Father” only… when we pray to Abba/Dada/Father God we’re reminded that this is everyone‘s Father…even those who don’t know it yet. Every time we pray, the very nature of the one to whom we pray should remind us that everything & everyone is His! And he is ours!

Try this on for size: “Hi Daddy – You are INCREDIBLE!

Do you hear the balance here? “Your name be honored as holy.” Intimacy, & yet astounding AWE. Our Dad is THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE! That should rattle us – move us – & change us!

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”

Paraphrasing gets us to the real heart of these words; “Set all things right – do what’s best; as above, so below.” We’re asking God to undo what’s broken about us & the world, so the place we live will look the way He originally created it to be – that God’s perfect will for the world would come to fruition.

The next part is simple, & we all do this all of the time; “Give us what we need.” What child doesn’t ask his parent for lunch/dinner/snack (are my children the only ones that eat CONSTANTLY?!), clothes, a ride? When we talk to our Father, we ask for the same.

Forgive us as we are people who forgive.” Wow. This one is tough. Thankfully prayer is not about performance. The Bible is full of individuals who wrestle with God. Every time we come to our Father it’s a clean reset, & it’s different than the time before – only it isn’t He that changes, it’s us.

Guard us from temptation.” I think every one of us can get behind this. It’s not a selfish request, either. It acknowledges evil, & God’s influence on the world around us & His hand of protection/power.

So, let’s look at that all together – what can a conversation with God look like? “Hey Father/Papa/Dad/Daddy – You are incredible/amazing/awesome! I can’t wait till You fix what’s broken in this world & my own life – You know what’s best. Provide for me. Forgive me. Guard me. Thank You“… that’s one way of working things, but You can use your own…and the conversation can go on. The Bible does encourage us to “pray without ceasing!

That’s all pretty straight forward stuff. When I look at how Jesus approached prayer it seems He was breaking down the disciples lofty religious barriers to truly approaching God, by inserting ideas that would force their guard down. This isn’t a “good work” – it’s a conversation. So, keep the convo open – pray throughout the day, & keep an open heart for His responses, which are often unexpected & surprising.

Oh, & I tend to wrap up my prayers with the very simple; “Thank You. Let it be so.

Let us PRAY!

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