A Guide to Praying

When we don't have the words to pray, God's word shows us how we can approach Him through the Lord's prayer taught by Jesus himself.

A Guide to Praying

Do you ever feel at a loss for words in prayer?  Sometimes, I ask myself, “I have so much to pray for, where do I begin?”  Other times, I sit at a loss for words like I have never prayed before.

Jesus himself, though, has given us instructions on how to pray.

It seems we are so familiar with the Lord’s prayer that we often forget its power. It touches on everything our prayer life should be.  Or we read the scripture right before the Lord’s prayer about not heaping up empty phrases, and we feel like we are doing just that when we hear, “Our father…”  But the Lord’s prayer is more than that.

It contains an address to God, followed by six petitions, or requests, made known to God. You can read the Lord’s prayer for yourself in Matthew 6:9-13.

Our Father in heaven,

We address God as Father who is in heaven.  We approach Him addressing His name, a name that displays His love, care, and grace towards us.

It is a love, care, and grace that we don’t deserve, yet He freely offers to us. When we lift up our Father’s Name, He reminds us of who He is and what He has made available to us as His children.

1) Hallowed be your name

Hallowed means to honor.  God’s name is of highest and utmost honor and is deservedly holy.  We bear His image and are to reflect the holiness of His name in our lives.

We should delight in and honor His name in hopes that His name would be hallowed among the world and that He would receive all honor and praise.

2) Your kingdom come

In Timothy Keller’s book titled Prayer, he states, “To pray ‘thy kingdom come’ is to ‘yearn for that future life’ of justice and peace, and to ask that ‘your future kingdom may be the end and consummation of the kingdom you have begun in us.”

Related Post: The Effect of His Will on Our Prayer

God has begun a work in those who believe in Him.  We should long for the day in which Christ returns and we see His kingdom fully reign.  We live now to make His kingdom known, yet our desire should be for His kingdom to come. When we pray for His kingdom to come, we invite Him to work and move in our lives right now.

3) Your will be done

Our desire should be for God’s will to be done in our lives and the world around us. Without a desire for God’s will, we attempt to fight the fallen world around us in ways that fails to bring light to the darkness. When we do not seek His will, we are seeking our own will and working in our own strength. We can only survive for so long in our own strength before we become exhausted and frustrated. There is no better, more restful place to be than in the will of God.

When Christ returns, God will make His will fully known.  However, until that day, we can align ourselves with His will as it is illuminated through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We want to see His will “on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10).

4) Give us this day, our daily bread

All we have is today. We ask God to grant us our daily bread, as well as that of our loved ones and neighbors. We can trust God to provide us with our daily necessities of life.

In our American culture of excessive consumerism and greedy pursuits, it can be difficult to long for only what we need. When we have excess, though, we can easily forget who our Provider is. Similarly, we also know that God does not desire for us to live in poverty. He is a good Father who blesses us in His love. We pray for our daily bread so we can live in His blessings while remembering who our Father and Provider is.

Proverbs 30:7-9give me neither poverty nor riches but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

Christ’s presence in our lives will always satisfy us far above what the world has to offer. The world looks enticing but always leaves us restless and wanting more. We find true rest and satisfaction when we trust in what He provides.

5) And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors

Luther said, “If anyone insists on his own goodness and despises others … let him look into himself when this petition confronts him. He will find he is no better than others and that in the presence of God everyone must duck his head and come into the joy of forgiveness only through the low door of humility.”

Following the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15)

Bitterness towards our neighbors is bitterness towards God, but forgiveness toward our neighbors is a reflection of our belief in God’s forgiveness of us. We forgive much when we believe we’ve been forgiven much. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it frees us to live in the fullness of God’s promises for us through His Son.

6) And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

We will all be tested with trials. James, the brother of Jesus, says we should “count it all joy” (James 1:2).  Our prayer is not that trials won’t come, but that our response leads us away from temptation and results in us becoming more like Christ.

As we turn our gaze to Christ when tests come, let’s pray that we are delivered from the evil around us.  God will lead and guide us on the path of the Spirit when we turn to Him to guide and direct.

Conclusion

As you pray this prayer, take the time today to pause at each petition and pray specifically for yourself, your loved ones and neighbors, and the world around you.

Pray for His kingdom to reign in your workplace and your city.

Pray for your friend who wronged you and that your heart would be willing to forgive.

Pray for that trial you are facing that seems impossible to overcome.

This guideline to prayer will lead us.  It directs our attention to God’s holiness, gives us a desire to see His kingdom come and His will be done, helps us to rest and be satisfied in the necessities He provides, guides us in restoring relationships with our neighbors and with God through forgiveness, and comforts us in knowing He desires for us to turn to Him when we are faced with trials and temptations.

Even when we are at a loss for words, we can approach our Heavenly Father with the words of His Son through the Lord’s prayer and remember His far-reaching love for us.

Written by Eric Nelson

I am a recipient of God's grace. I am married to Christina. I am a PE teacher to elementary students. I am a coach of football and baseball to middle school students. I write to hopefully encourage and inspire others in their walk with Christ.