Someone once said if Bible study is the heart of the Christian life, then prayer is the breath. It is the very thing that gives us life, and is an expression that we are alive in Christ. Prayer is ultimately about knowing God and communicating with Him, both through speaking and listening.
I’ve found it fascinating that of all of the things the disciples could’ve asked for Jesus to teach them about, the one thing they asked was “LORD, teach us to pray.” I find great comfort in knowing that even Jesus disciples needed instruction to grow in their prayer lives.
Prayer is really hard. My prayer place is often the hardest place to find. One of the ways we move forward and grow in our prayer life is to first admit that; Lord, we need you to teach us to pray.
The second way to move forward is the Gospel. Understanding our adoption as sons and daughters moves us into a life of prayer because we are praying out of a new identity, as a child of God. We understand we are loved, forgiven, and accepted by our Heavenly Father first, and that changes our prayer life. Understanding whom we pray to changes the way we pray.
Read Matthew 6: 5-15
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day 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 evil.
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.
What do you notice about how Jesus teaches his disciples to pray? Where does He start?
Prayer should always start with proper perspective, we first focus our eyes on God, the one to whom we’re praying, and not on our circumstance. While prayer is simply talking to God, we still do so by entering into His presence with reverence and awe, a respect for who He is and yet a great intimacy knowing He will listen. Sometimes Hallowed be Your name is spoken with words, other times it’s a posture of the heart, bowing low in humility believing God is who He says He is.
Listen to Tim Keller explain in this sermon the importance of understanding the difference between Christian prayer and all other types of prayer: knowing God as our Father. Again, understanding whom we pray to changes the way we pray.
Respond in prayer by thanking God for this gift of being adopted, for His Son for making a way for us to know our Heavenly Father, and pray in light of that. Linger in His love, responding to His fatherly grace, and let prayer be a conversation that flows from this place.
- In what ways is prayer hard for you? How do you struggle with prayer?
- How does understanding God as Father change the way you pray?
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:1-3)
Read the rest of this Psalm here: Psalm 145
“Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin
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