Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Instructions on Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13
“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 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.'

Jesus had just finished giving more instruction on prayer. He warned about being hypocritical in personal prayers. There were apparently those who liked to pray publicly and loudly in order to draw attention to themselves. "See how spiritual I am because I pray so loud and so often?"

Jesus instead suggested that our personal prayers should be in private. Some translations say "in your closet with the door closed." The inference here is there are some things we need to talk about with God which are between us and God. Those who regularly spend time in private prayer with God will tell you these are the intimate times when closer relationship with God can be developed. Jesus even says there are rewards associated with praying in this way. 

He further instructed us not to babble on and on just to make it sound like we have more to talk to God about, making us more spiritual than others. Jesus made a point to say that people who pray like this are repeating their words over and over again, thinking that will bring answers to their prayers. 

Immediately following these instructions, Jesus spoke the words printed above, by saying, "This is how you should pray:" In teaching ourselves or others about prayer, notice several things can be learned from these instructions from our Lord. 

1. We are talking to our Heavenly Father, holding him high in reverence.
2. The kingdom of God is recognized as coming with its power.
3. We should pray for God's will to be done.
4. We seek and should be thankful for our daily food.
5. We learn forgiveness as well as our responsibility to forgive.
6. We seek God's help in avoiding temptation and deliverance from Satan. 

For some, these may be the basics while for others they are a meaningful content for prayer, from the lips of Jesus himself. Sure, we should continue to pray for the sick, the homeless, the poor, etc. But Jesus begins in a descriptive way, showing us the importance of talking to God, as well as praying for important things.  As you pray, consider the Lord's instruction here in Matthew 6. Then practice what you pray. 


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