Jesus’ Teachings on Prayer
(Matthew 4:23-25; 5:1-2; 6:5-13)
What is prayer? In the most basic sense, prayer is talking to God. Through prayer, we can thank God and listen to God. We can express our worship of God, our gratitude, and our dependence. When Jesus was asked by His disciples about prayer, this is what He told them.
“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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
When praying, Jesus told His disciples to avoid the showy manner of the hypocrites and the mindless repetition of the heathens--non-believers. Jesus also stressed the privacy of prayer and the precision of prayer. Prayer is not intended for an earthly audience. The purpose of prayer is to build our relationship with God. The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples emphasizes five characteristics: the supremacy of God, the work of God, the provision of God, the forgiveness of God, and the protection of God.
When we talk to God, we should show reverence. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” indicates an intimate, close relationship and recognition of authority. Jesus’ use of “Holy” acknowledges that God is One who is set apart, different from us. While any posture can be used in prayer, we should understand that kneeling, bowing our heads, and closing eyes communicate reverence to God and show recognition that God deserves our respect.
By praying for God’s will to be done, we submit to follow God’s plan wherever it leads. Whether we acknowledge it or not, God works around us, in us, and through us.
While God knows what we need, He wants us to acknowledge His provision. God meets our physical needs. Jesus’ reference to “daily bread” can represent all of our basic needs, including food, water, and even the air we breathe. In addition to the physical, God also meets our spiritual needs. We ask for His forgiveness to restore relationships. Seeking forgiveness unites us with God and others. We also can ask God to guide us so we live in ways that maintain that relationship.
Whether the need is small or large, God can meet it. Do you truly trust God to meet your needs?