5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:5-15, NIV)
Prayer is an important aspect of a Christian’s relationship with their Savior. Yet it is also one of the least understood. At some point in our walk with Christ, we are likely to wonder if God really hears our prayers. At those times we are also likely approaching prayer with the wrong attitude.
Jesus begins His lesson on prayer by first addressing what we are NOT to do. Our prayers are not to be boastful of our own accomplishments. They are not to be loud and boisterous with the intent to impress those who hear them. Our prayers are for God’s ears. They are our way of communicating with Him. They should not be empty platitudes, but personal and emotional expressions. We should not fear praying before others, but it should always be for God’s glory and not our own.
Jesus did not give us this prayer as one we should memorize and repeat. It is not a magical set of words that will make all our dreams and desires come true. Instead, this prayer serves as an example of how to pray. When we pray, we should include specifics to our lives. God wants to hear from us our needs, our wants, our desires. Our prayers should not be full of empty words or promises. God does not bargain.
We are to pray, not to sleeping pagan deity, but to God our Father who resides in heaven. Our Father is holy and righteous, which should inspire awe in us. God rules completely in Heaven and we should seek His complete rule in our lives. We can and should express our wants and desires to the Lord, but we should want His will done. We can trust in the Father God to meet our needs and provide for us day by day, as needed. There is always temptation in the world. Temptation to lead us away from our reliance upon God. We should seek His guidance and strength to help us avoid it.
We are to forgive others, so that we too may be forgiven. Forgiveness is an action taken in our heart. None of us on this earth are perfect. We all make mistakes and sin against others. We should forgive those who sinned against us, just as our Father forgives us for the sins we commit against Him.
Examine your prayer life. Does it follow the example set by Jesus?
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