Prayer is talking to God. Someone told me that they did not pray because they did not know how. If you can talk to me, you can talk to God.
Jesus taught how to pray and started by telling his disciples how NOT to pray.
Don’t pray because you want to impress other people.
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Prayer is not a talent show. Prayer is not a competition for best prayer. You have an audience of one, God. It is senseless to try to impress Him. He knows who you really are. He is far more intelligent than you will ever be.
Save your fancy words with ornaments and decorations for someone else. Prayer works best with plain and simple words.
Don’t criticize the simple prayer.
Don’t fill your prayer with empty phrases.
Don’t think that God will hear your prayer because of how many words that you use.
Not too many words:
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.
The demonstration of God’s spiritual power does not require lofty speech at any time.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Look at the example of prayer that Jesus provided to his disciples.
Prayer is not a shopping list for God.
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 yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
If the Model Prayer were a list:
- Review the divine attribute of holiness
- Request that God’s will be accomplished
- Give us a piece of bread for today
- Our need to forgive and be forgiven
- Resistance to temptation to evil
Only one item is a personal request, asking God to give us something: daily bread.
The first item on the list is reviewing the truth about God’s nature prior to asking for anything else. The prayer in Acts 1 reads, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” Peter and company begin by describing the attribute of God that applies to their request for guidance while choosing a replacement for Judas. In their prayer, the attributes are related to God’s omniscience and ability to see into the human heart. It reminds me of the Lord’s instruction to the prophet Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” It makes me think that the church leaders were also remembering the attributes of God that are recorded in Holy Scripture and including them in this prayer.
The remaining items on the Model Prayer list could be categorized as asking God to work through us. May your heavenly kingdom come to earth through me. Accomplish Your will on earth through me. May I forgive others. May I be forgiven. May I resist temptation and be spared from sin.
I would propose that we accept this pattern in our own prayers. 1. Begin by reviewing who God is, ascribing glory to His Name, looking into the Scriptures to reveal His nature as relates to our prayer. 2. Simply ask God to provide what you need. 3. Spend more time asking God to work through you than asking Him to work for you. Focus upon God accomplishing His will and bringing Kingdom practices into your earthly life and relationships with others.