Praying is something everyone seems to believe in when they’re desperate.. But is asking God for something all that matters with prayer? Jesus valued prayer. It was an important part of His life. He spent a lot of time praying, and His disciples saw that. In fact, they wanted Him to teach them how to pray. (Luke 11:1) In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus offers His disciples six prayer principles that give our prayers purpose.
Many call this model prayer “The Lord’s Prayer,” but a better, more accurate description is “The Disciple’s Prayer” because this is a prayer that Jesus wants us as His disciples to pray. It is divided into two sections; the first focuses God’s glory and the second focuses our needs. Include these elements when you pray.
Six Prayer Principles - Matthew 6:9-13
1. Recognize Who you are addressing in your prayer. (Matthew 6:9a)
Before you rush into prayer and rattle off a list of requests for God, it is a good idea to take a deep breath and think about Who you are about to address… the God of the universe! Take a moment to reflect, to take a deep breath, to be quiet and wait… then you are ready to reverently and respectfully address God, our Father. He wants to hear from you! (1 John 3:1)
2. Acknowledge the holiness of God. (Matthew 6:9b)
“Hallowed” could also be translated: “sanctified”, “revered” or “holy”. Our God is holy, set apart from everything and everyone else in creation. A powerful and effective prayer will always glorify Him. In fact, our prayers should always seek His glory above our own desires. One of the reasons God would choose to not answer our prayer is that we are seeking our desires over His. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3.
3. Learn the will of God and pray for it! (Matthew 6:10)
I read that in order to pray “Your kingdom come,” I must first pray “my kingdom go!” We tend to want to be in control; but if we are truly going to submit to God’s will for our lives, and every aspect of it, then we must seek His will over ours. If I am going to pray for God’s will, I need to learn more about His will; what does God desire, what does He want, what is He looking for? The truth is, when you pray according to the will of God, your prayers will always be answered in the affirmative. (1 John 5:14-15)
So how do we know what God’s will is so that we can pray for it? We dig into His Word and learn Who He is and His desires. As we learn more about Him and His will then our prayers shift from self-centered to God-centered, from our will to His will.
4. Ask God to provide all you need for today. (Matthew 6:11)
Jesus didn’t instruct us to pray for monthly bread or yearly bread or all the bread we will ever need. He wants us to trust Him to provide what we need today… no more and no less. In that way, we fully trust and depend on Him, in the same way the Israelites did when He provided manna or “bread” for them on a daily basis during their journey through the wilderness. (Exodus 16)
5. Confess your sins and seek God’s forgiveness. (Matthew 6:12)
Sin creates a barrier between us and God. A true disciple of Jesus recognizes the importance of removing that barrier. And the only way to do that is to confess sin and seek His forgiveness. The Bible tells us that unconfessed sin will hinder our prayers. (Psalm 66:12)
Jesus also expects us to forgive others in the same way that God forgives us. (Matthew 6:14-15). The truth is, when we fully understand and appreciate God’s forgiveness toward us, we’re able to forgive others in that same way. In other words, a forgiven person is a forgiving person.
6. Pursue God’s protection against the evil in this world! (Matthew 6:13)
You can’t say devil without saying evil; Satan is the evil one and he seeks to kill, steal and destroy. Life is a spiritual battle and we desperately need God’s protection against the very real evil that lurks in this world. (Ephesians 6:10-11). We need our heavenly Father’s protection daily. Without it, we are totally vulnerable and at risk. So pursue God’s protection; put on the full armor of God!
For much more, including three common misconceptions about prayer, click here to listen to Follow Me: Becoming a Disciple of Jesus - Part 7.