As Christians it must be a priority to cultivate our relationship with God, and one of the best ways to grow in our walk with Jesus is prayer. Now, what does it really mean to pray? How do we pray?
What is to pray?
Through the Bible we clearly see that to pray is to talk with God. When we pray we open our hearts to God to tell him how we feel. In Matthew 6: 5-8, Jesus talks about prayer and says:
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the plazas for people to see. I assure you that they have already obtained their full reward. But you, when you pray, enter your room, close the door and pray to your Father, in secret. Thus your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not talk just to talk like the Gentiles do, because they imagine they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Here we see that prayer is between us and God, not to impress others. Our heart does not have the right attitude if what we seek is for others to see and admire our words. As we pray, our greatest desire should be to spend time with God and speak to Him from the bottom of our hearts.
It is true that our Father knows what we need beforehand, but like every good father, He also loves to hear the voice of his children. Why wouldn’t He, for he is the Father of all fathers. We see that the emphasis of prayer should be to strengthen our relationship with God, to approach Him, to spend time in his presence and to share with Him what occupies our heart. We pray because our relationship with God is important and vital.
How do we pray?
We may understand the importance of prayer, but often we are not clear about how we should pray. The Bible gives us examples and help. In the same chapter of the Gospel of Matthew mentioned above (Matthew 6) we find “our Father,” known as the model prayer of Jesus. Matthew 6: 9-13 says:
If we take this prayer as an example, we see that there are some important elements that should be part of our prayer.
1. We begin with an attitude of praise, worship, and humility
Initially we must show our praise and worship, recognize the greatness of God and His holiness. Our attitude must be humble.
2. We express our confidence in Him
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (v.10)
Then we submit to His will and affirm that the best thing that can happen to us is that His kingdom be manifested in our lives. We declare total confidence that His kingdom and His will are the best for us because where the kingdom of God manifests, great things are sure to happen.
3. We present our requests
We went on to present our petitions, to ask for God’s provision for the day. He knows that during the course of the day we will have physical needs and wish to them to be fulfilled.
4. We recognize the importance of forgiveness
Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. (v.12)
We recognize our need for His forgiveness and His grace. At the same time we examine our hearts to know if we have been willing to forgive and offer grace to those who have offended us. It’s time to examine ourselves. We know that we are grateful for God’s forgiveness of our lives. Is our heart sufficiently transformed to offer forgiveness to those who have offended us?
5. We ask for victory over temptation and evil
We ask for your help and protection from the temptations so that we remain firm in it and do not give in. We know that He is the only one who can protect us and free us from the temptations and all the attacks of the evil forces.
6. We praise Him again
Some versions include:
Because yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
We finish with praise and adoration to God, recognizing that only He deserves all the glory and all the honor, that eternity is in His hands.
Why should we pray?
Prayer brings us closer to the Father. It gives us the wonderful opportunity to open our hearts to Him. Tell Him what occupies our minds. Ask for His help and wisdom. James 4: 8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” And this is what we do when we pray! We approach the Father; we take time to talk and listen to Him, to enjoy His presence and company. This is the main reason why we pray. There are other reasons why we should pray, find some of them below.
1. For God to be glorified
God expects us to ask, and to do so in the name of Jesus. It is not asking for everything that we want, but asking according to his desire for us and for Him to be glorified in our lives.
2. Because if we ask, we receive
Ask and it will be given; look, and you will find; call, and it will be opened. For everyone who asks receives; the one who searches, finds; and to the one who calls, it is opened. Who of you, if your child asks for bread, gives you a stone?
(Matthew 7: 7-9)
Here we see the Fatherly heart of God. He wants to give good things to His children, but we must ask, seek, call, cultivate our relationship with our Father and express our longings.
3. Because Jesus gave an example
We see that Jesus, although God was a man, cultivated a life of prayer and clamor, but also had “reverent submission.” How much more should we show that reverent and submissive heart through our prayers and our conversations with the Father!
4. To receive your peace
Do not worry about anything; rather, on every occasion, with prayer and petition, present your requests to God and give thanks. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will take care of your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4: 6-7)
There are so many of our daily concerns! We can take them to God, give them to Him and give Him thanks because we do not have to face the problems of life alone. It is in that attitude of total trust in him that we receive His peace, an incomprehensible peace that shows the care of our God.
5. To receive physical and spiritual healing
We can bring before God all kinds of petitions, including requests for health and for the forgiveness of sins. God longs to touch us with physical healing and spiritual healing. We are righteous thanks to Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21) and that is why our prayer is effective and has power.
6. Because he expresses confidence in the grace and mercy of God
So let us approach the throne of grace with confidence to receive mercy and find the grace that will help us in the moment we need it the most.
The more we cultivate our relationship with God, the easier it will be to approach Him with all confidence to speak to Him and present our needs. It will also be better and easier to listen to Him and receive His mercy, His grace, His peace.
We must persevere in prayer
We can pray at all times for all the situations or people that come to our mind. We must also intercede for our brothers in the faith. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit for the precise words to pray with wisdom, according to the heart of God.
Do not hesitate to approach the heavenly Father with your prayers. You will see the enormous joy that your heart will feel as you strengthen your relationship with Him through prayer.