There is no doubt that Jesus prayed, and prayed very effectively. Prayer is one of the most vital components of our faith, yet it is often under-utilized to its fullest capacity.
If you don’t feel confident or competent in prayer, Jesus provides a template on how to pray. This is not meant to be a liturgical recital but a structure to help you pray.
Let’s unpack five components for effective prayer as taught by Jesus, the master-prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-15.
#1 We approach God as Father. This relationship gives you permission to pray to God.
You have full access to Him. You don’t have to negotiate or bargain with God because He’s your Father.
Maybe you didn’t have a good earthly father or a father at all and it’s hard to see God as good. But listen to this.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5
The address of “our Father in Heaven” gives balance to our relationship with Him and His divinity as it defines His greatness. We should never approach God disrespectfully or treat Him as common but retain reverence of His divinity.
#2 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. One of the biggest obstacles to prayer is the tug of war between my will and God’s will.
It’s often my will that created the need for me to pray, so I need God’s redemptive-purposes to repair and restore what’s broken.
Jesus experienced this in the garden of Gethsemane when He asked for this cup to pass from Him. But He then said, “not My will but your will be done.”
Keep in mind that when you pray, you are limited by what you see, usually the pain. Yet, God sees the past, present, and future all at the same time.
God’s purposes are three-dimensional; to transform us, to prepare us, and to welcome us into eternity.
We often pray in one dimension, my comfort/ease. The goal of prayer is not to get God on board with your plans but for you to surrender to His perfect will.
When we pray, we are asking for the Kingdom of God to be established within our family, our workplace, in our mess, in our city, in our state, nation, and our world.
The word “kingdom” is poignant, as the suffix -dom means domain.
When you pray, establish God’s authority over your prayer needs. His authority is second to none.
- I may not understand what God is doing.
- I may not be able to see the good of it at the moment.
- I may not like it.
But I know you are good, and His will is best.
#3 Give us this day our daily bread. This is the component of prayer that includes your needs. Daily bread is a reminder to commune with God regularly.
This also is a declaration of the sufficiency of God; His provision is enough. Communicating with God and depending on Him daily will give you all the strength and courage you need to face today.
#4 Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. This is the element in prayer that has the potential to silence your faith. I believe that’s why in verses 14-15, Jesus brings it back up.
He said that if we don’t forgive others, that God will not forgive you. (You read that right.)
The translation of the word “debts” into English is most accurate as it expresses an inability to repay.
To forgive means that we choose to free others from the burden of paying us for a debt just as God has forgiven us. It doesn’t excuse their behavior; it means you are no longer holding it against them just as God does not hold your sin against you.
Unforgiveness adversely affects your physical and mental health.
- It elevates our stress levels which can cause high blood pressure.
- Will cause intense responses to people that are disproportionate to the situation.
- Chronic unforgiveness can lead to depression.
- Forgiving is a key step in healing mental and emotional trauma.
#5 Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Scripture is clear that God does not tempt us with evil but there is an evil one who prowls around like a lion seeking whom he may devour.
Jesus instructs you to pray that God would give you discernment to overcome the trials and temptations of the devil. As Jesus stated later in Matthew 10:16, we need to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
We will face trials and tribulations in this life, Jesus clearly stated that in John 16:33 but we don’t have to fear because He has overcome the world.
Prayer is can be an effective and regular part of your life. Jesus, the master-prayer, gives us an outline to help shape our prayers. Don’t be intimidated by prayer.