Happy National Day of Prayer Everyone!
I feel so blessed to live in a country that acknowledges the need for prayer so much that we have a day dedicated to it. So to honor this occasion, this post is about prayer. More specifically, this post is about Jesus’ expectations for our prayers and His example of prayer.
His example of prayer is one that we should all strive for. After all … He is perfect. Prayer is a direct way to communicate with God. The more I pray to God, the more I feel Him in my life.
Jesus Tells Us
First, let’s look at Matthew 6: 5-15, Jesus said:
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. 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 the 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. And 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 other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This passage is just a short blurb from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), which I really recommend reading as a whole.
Jesus tells us … to not pray like the hypocrites
In verse 5, Jesus says to not pray like hypocrites “for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” Prayers aren’t meant to be loud and conspicuous. They are an intimate conversation between a creation and the Creator. Prayer is time to commune with the One who loves you.
Jesus tells us … to pray to the Father
The only One to whom we should pray is God Himself. There is no one else to whom we should be praying. Verse 6 says that we are to “pray to the Father, who is unseen.”
Jesus tells us … to pray in your room.
As I said: prayer is an intimate conversation between a creation and the Creator. It’s a time to commune with God. Verse 6 says to go into our room and “close the door.” Think about spending that alone time with your spouse. It’s needed time to draw closer to each other. Prayer is alone time with your God, which is even more important than time with your spouse.
Jesus tells us … to not pray like the pagans
In verse 7, Jesus said to not babble like the pagans. Babbling refers to repeating your requests with long meaningless prayers. In contrast, Jesus wants us to pray a focused prayer.
Throughout the New Testament, we see many examples of Jesus praying. As followers of Christ, our goal is to be as much like Him as possible. He is our perfect example. Being the Son of God his example of prayer should be the one to strive for.
(I would like to state that there are more than one or two verses as examples of Jesus praying and would like to encourage you to seek those out by diving into the scriptures.)
Jesus … Praised
Jesus worshiped the Father, in prayer and in His life. In Matthew 11:25-26, He gave praises to God.
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
Jesus … Made Requests
God is the filler of our needs, but He is a gentleman and will not force Himself on us, so we ask God for what we need.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
Jesus … Gave Thanks
God is the Creator of the universe. He is the provider, the filler of all of our needs. Jesus thanked God specifically for His provision. In John 11:41, He thanked God for listening:
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”
In Matthew 26:26-27, Jesus gave thanks for the bread and wine at the first communion:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then He took a cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.”
Jesus … prayed for Himself
Jesus experienced depression as His crucifixion drew closer. In the garden of Gethsemane He prayed for Himself, so He would not have to face agonizing pain and death in Matthew 26:36-44.
Jesus … Prayed For Others
We are to pray for others as well. I believe that our prayers can impact the decisions that God makes. With that being said I believe that when God does something He will do it in accordance with His will. That any decision impacted by our prayers will still work out for His purposes.
In Luke 23:34, Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who tortured and crucified Him:
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
John 17 is an excellent place to read Jesus’ prayer for Himself and others.
Jesus … Prayed Privately
Of all of the examples of Jesus praying, this one was the most common. Jesus prayed in private regularly because He needed alone time with His Father. Just like we need alone time with God.
Once When Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
Jesus … prayed for God’s will
This is one thing I find difficult at times. I pray what is in my heart or on my mind to pray for. And I have felt that praying for something and then saying “but Your will” is a bit of a cop out. He can do all things. But I recently read a blog post by one of my blogging friends, Cassie Wilson of Just a Closer Walk with Thee, about what she had to say about prayer and it changed my mind. When I pray for God’s will, I pray for Him to do what I am asking in “the best way possible.” But as Cassie pointed out sometimes what we pray for won’t turn out like we plan.
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22: 41-42
Pray it Out
The example that Jesus gave to communicate with God is one to strive for, not just because He is perfect, but because His example teaches us the importance of spending time with the Father. Give everything to God, good, bad, or other. We praise, we thank, we ask, we confess, we pour out our hearts because we have a God who loves us.
I really love my God. He has gotten me out of the toughest spots in my life. My God has pulled me back from the depth of my pit of destruction. But one of my favorite aspects of God is that He wants to spend time with me and for me to talk with Him. The key is God wants to spend time with you too, He longs for you to talk to Him. That is why He gave us prayer.
Have a blessed day y’all,
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