In the Gospels, Christ taught us how to do many things—how to treat neighbors, how to love enemies, how to defeat sin, and maybe most importantly, how to pray.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:7–8, “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.”
If God already knows what we’ll ask for, why pray? Because we can. The throne room of heaven is open to God’s children at all hours. We’re invited to speak to him about whatever is on our hearts. How could we pass up an opportunity like that?
Jesus knew how difficult prayer would be for us—talking to someone we can’t see, and never sure we’re doing it quite right. That’s why—after Jesus gave us all the dos and don’ts of how to pray—he led by example. He demonstrated how a healthy prayer should sound:
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 the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever.
These are more than just words to recite—this is a step-by-step guide. Here’s a way to help us break it down:
The first half of the Lord’s Prayer is praise. The majority of our prayer needs to be focused on him, because no matter what our circumstances are today, we are loved and blessed by a merciful God.
Christ then models repentance of sins, calling out for God’s forgiveness, even though we fail him.
Next, Christ asks for God to lead us away from Satan and toward the cross. That’s it. He doesn’t give God a laundry list of requests. He asks for the one thing that only God can do: deliverance from the power of sin.
The model prayer ends by yielding to the power, mercy, and grace of God in our lives. We acknowledge that he is greater than us, and that everything belongs to him. We admit our powerlessness, and humble ourselves at the feet of God. By doing this, we relinquish our anxiety, and let him do his job of carrying our load.
God demonstrates his love for us with both the blessings he puts in our lives and the trials he permits that make us stronger. Most importantly, he shows his love by spreading his arms wide as if in an embrace, and taking our place on the cross. We experience his love every second of the day—the least we can do is tell him how much we love him in return.
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