First, let’s start with how NOT to pray . . .
Don’t do it for show. Jesus said: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” (Matthew 6:5)
Don’t babble. Jesus also said: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7)
So, how SHOULD we pray? Jesus made it clear:
“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.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'”
Most of us have said that prayer dozens of times in our lives. But it’s not something we’re supposed to recite robotically. Jesus wants us to pray from our hearts. Take the time to think deeply about each and every word and what it means.
Jesus taught lots of other things about prayer. Here are just a few:
Pray often. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
Ask, seek, knock. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9)
Watch and pray. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:38)
God’s will, not ours. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
As incredible as it may sound, Jesus prayed specifically for you and me. Shortly before his death, he prayed for his disciples and then said . . .
I pray also for those
who will believe in me through their message,
that all of them may be one, Father,
just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us so that the world
may believe that you have sent me.
I have given them the glory that you gave me,
that they may be one as we are one:
I in them and you in me.
May they be brought to complete unity
to let the world know
that you sent me and have loved them
even as you have loved me.