To some it’s a ritual. To others it may be a senseless activity, like talking to the wall. Or it may be a cry for help. Actually, what is prayer?… Prayer is simply talking to God. Because God is an individual being who desires to have a relationship with us, prayer takes on a whole new dimension.
If you’re not sure what prayer is all about don’t be discouraged. Neither did Jesus’ disciples. They had been following Him for some time, but finally got around to asking Him how they should pray. He gave a very simple answer. There are two slightly different versions in the New Testament, one in Matthew and a shorter version in Luke.
He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today 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 the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus gave us a model for how we should pray
What Jesus gave them (and us) was a model. He did not intend for this to be the only way to pray, as that would stifle any genuine meaning and make it a ritual. Imagine a small child crawling up onto mommy’s knee or daddy’s knee. The child cuddles with the parent and starts telling him about the events of the day and makes requests. The parent lovingly listens and will either grant the request, deny the request, or tell the child to wait.
On another day, Jesus was talking about the sincerity of prayer and which prayers His heavenly Father would listen to, or reject.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance.
He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
Our heart must be right as we pray
The tax collector was repentant, confessed and asked God for forgiveness. His heart was in the right place. That is the key. Come clean with God and hold nothing back. There are those today who boast of their piety, knowledge and standing in the church. The reaction that Jesus had to the pharisee and the tax collector is the same today as it was then.
Praying, therefore, is talking to your daddy. It doesn’t have to be flowery prose. It doesn’t have to be long. Boasting has no meaning, just sincerity. God wants you to talk to Him. But do so with a measure of respect. Acknowledge who He is and praise Him for being the one who created you, sustains you and will open the gates of His Kingdom to you.
Jesus opens the way to God
It is through Jesus that we have access to God the Father. Jesus is our one and only intercessor. Our accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior opens the gates and we are allowed to ask God for help.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
After all, believers are His children and are joint-heirs with Christ our Lord.