Insights Into Prayer
What Does the Bible Tell Us About How to Pray?
Jesus shares some tremendous insight regarding how to pray to God in Matthew 6:5-13.
“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think prayers are answered only by repeating words over and over again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
In the above verses, Jesus shares how not to pray.
Verse 5: We are to pray in secret, not the way people did in His day — praying out loud publicly, primarily to just be seen, and heard.
Verse 6: Jesus asks us to go to a private place since our Heavenly Father already knows what we are going to pray about.
Verse 7: Jesus tells us not to ramble on and on, as people of other religions do, or be repetitious with words. God, our heavenly Father, would have us be specific about our prayer.
Verse 8: Jesus reiterates that the believer is not to pray repetitiously like the heathen.
Next, Jesus, teaches us how to pray.
Verse 9: Jesus says we should give honor to God and His name.
Verse 10: We are to pray for His Kingdom to come, and for His will to be done, that there would be a heavenly or godly presence here on earth.
Verse 11: We are to pray for daily provision.
Verse 12: We are to pray and ask for forgiveness for our sins, and for others who have wronged us.
Verse 13: We are to pray and ask God to keep us from being tempted, and to deliver us from Satan and his power.
Other New Testament writers describe other ways to pray.
Paul, in Philippians 4:6, says that we should pray for everything with thanksgiving. Paul, who wrote several books of the New Testament, often began and ended his letters in prayer for the saints. Specifically, Paul prays for God’s grace, peace, love, and faith among believers.
Peter, in 1 Peter 5:7, exhorts us to cast all our care upon God, because He cares about us. In verse 8, Peter warns us that Satan seeks to devour the believer.
James 1:5 says we can pray and ask God for wisdom, but this should be done in faith. James 4:1-4 says that when we pray, we often pray or ask out of our own selfish ambition. James 4:15 exhorts that we need to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives.
In the Old Testament, Moses prayed to God almost constantly on behalf of the Israelites — for God’s mercy and graciousness in dealing with their sins. Abraham prayed persistently for his relative Lot, who lived in Sodom, that God would spare Him. 2 Chronicles 14:11 says Asa cried out to the Lord. Prophet Jeremiah prayed for God’s guidance and correction of the Israelites (Jeremiah 10:23-24). David prayed for the peace of Jerusalem in Psalm 122:6.
The protocol on how to pray covers several ways of prayer. The primary focus of prayer is the intent. Does the prayer honor God and exalt His name? What is the purpose behind the prayer? Is it personal gain or ambition? Do you pray for others to be blessed and encouraged? Are your prayers done in secret and in humility? Are your prayers focused on obtaining godly wisdom, counsel, and direction? God is pleased with these prayers and answers them.
How often are we to pray? The Bible says pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). What should we pray for? What if we do not know how to pray? The Bible says the Holy Spirit will help us pray (Romans 8:26-27).
How do w e pray to God? Prayer is essentially putting your request, concern, or issue before the Lord, and trusting Him to answer them.
Matthew 18:3 says we need to pray with the heart of little children, simple, reverent, specific, and trusting.