How to Pray

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. [a] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 6:5,6.

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. [b]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 6:7,8.

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. [c]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 2:1–5.

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. [d]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 6:9–15.

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.

 

Notes[+]

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Amen.


This prayer is based upon Matthew 6.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The “missing phrase” of “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever” was likely a marginal note on earlier manuscripts of Matthew and not part of Matthew’s original text. The phrase was probably spoken by early Christians as part of a worshipful reading of the prayer, therefore someone wrote them in the margin so that they would be remembered. Copyists copied the words in such a way that the phrase appeared in following manuscripts as part of the text, no longer set in the margin. The addition or deletion of the phrase does not alter the significance of the prayer, and the phrase is in agreement with the message of Scripture. There is nothing wrong with saying it or not saying it.

There are some similarities to a Hebrew hymn, the Qadish.

May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified, throughout the world, which he has created according to his will. May his Kingship be established in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future; and say, Amen. May his great name be blessed, forever and ever. Blessed, praised,  glorified, exalted, extolled, honored, elevated and lauded be the Name of the holy one, Blessed is He – above and beyond any blessings and hymns, Praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen. May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who makes peace in his high holy places, may he bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel; and say Amen.

Qadish קדיש means holiness or sanctification. This hymn exalts the holy Name and asks for peace. Therefore, the Qadish is used as a mourner’s prayer to demonstrate that grief and loss do not change the holiness of God and do not diminish God’s blessing upon us.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.


The above contemporary text is based upon the Nicene Creed.

Around A.D. 300, there was some effort to influence the early Church to shift away from the Apostolic view of the divinity of Christ. A presbyter, Arius of Alexandria (Egypt), was teaching that Christ was created by God the Father. In response to Arianism, the controversy named for Arius, 318 church leaders met for a council in A.D. 325 in Nicaea (northwestern Asia Minor).

During the debate, Arius spoke so forcefully against the divine nature of Christ that Nicholas, bishop of Myra in Lycia (southern Asia Minor), walked over and slapped Arius on the face. Nicholas was ejected from the council. However, the Council of Nicaea upheld the Apostolic teaching of the divinity of Christ, that He is equal to the Father God and not a created being.

Nicholas of Myra is remembered for his generosity to those in need, and he may be the original Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus).

The Nicene Creed is a product of that council.

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into being, things in heaven and things on earth, Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down, and became incarnate and became man, and suffered, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and dead,

And in the Holy Spirit.

But as for those who say, There was when He was not, and, Before being born He was not, and that He came into existence out of nothing, or who assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance, or created, or is subject to alteration or change – these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.

65 years later at Constantinople, another church council, revised the creed, and it is know a the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the begotten of God the Father, the Only-begotten, that is of the substance of the Father.
God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten and not made; of the very same nature of the Father, by Whom all things came into being, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.
Who for us humanity and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate, became human, was born perfectly of the holy virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.
By whom He took body, soul, and mind, and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance.
He suffered, was crucified, was buried, rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven with the same body, [and] sat at the right hand of the Father.
He is to come with the same body and with the glory of the Father, to judge the living and the dead; of His kingdom there is no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the uncreate and the perfect; Who spoke through the Law, the prophets, and the Gospels; Who came down upon the Jordan, preached through the apostles, and lived in the saints.

We believe also in only One, Universal, Apostolic, and Holy Church; in one baptism with repentance for the remission and forgiveness of sins; and in the resurrection of the dead, in the everlasting judgement of souls and bodies, in the Kingdom of Heaven and in the everlasting life.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.


This statement of faith does not claim to be written by the Apostles, rather it was written to preserve the faith of the Apostles. It is a concise summary of what the Apostles taught and believed. An early form dates back to A.D. 140. John, the last living Apostle of the Twelve, died 40 years prior.

It is connected with Acts 2:42.

And they were devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.

The Apostles’ Doctrine was a primary focus of the First Church and is expounded upon in the writings of the New Testament which were created during a time when the Twelve were living. Early Christians held to a Rule of Faith that was based upon the Apostles’ Doctrine which was a set of core beliefs that were never compromised.

We have used the word Christian in place of catholic for disambiguation. The word catholic means “global” and is broad enough to include all church groups including the Roman Catholic church.

This creed was preceded by an earlier one which is called The Old Roman Creed. 

I believe in God the Father almighty;
and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
on the third day rose again from the dead,
ascended into heaven,
sits at the right hand of the Father,
whence he will come to judge the living and the dead;
and in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the remission of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh,
life everlasting.
[a]Elliot Ritzema and John D. Barry, “Apostles’ Creed,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Some scholars feel that “He descended into hell” is a later addition and not a necessary part of the creed, or that it should it should be corrected to something like “He went into the grave” so that the harrowing of hell is not supported in this creed.

See also The Nicene Creed.

Notes[+]

Minor (Shorter) Doxology – Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.


As God’s glory was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be undiminished.

Compare Scripture in Romans 16:25-27

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Galatians 1:3-5

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins in order to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17

Now to the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, to the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with every good thing to do his will, carrying out in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:11

If anyone speaks, let it be as the oracles of God; if anyone serves, let it be as by the strength that God provides, so that in all things God will be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

This lesser doxology possibly dates back to A.D. 380 in Greek.

Δόξα Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ καὶ Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι,καὶ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

Doxa Patri kai Uio kai Hagio Pneumati, kai nun kai aei kai eis tous aionas ton aionon. Amen

The Roman Rite version in Latin:

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

 

Aaronic Benediction – Priestly Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

Amen.


“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” [Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV]

One of the priestly duties was to bless the people in the Name of Yahweh (BeShem Yahweh).
Compare Deuteronomy 10:8, “At that time Yahweh set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of Yahweh to stand before Yahweh, to serve him and to bless the people in his name until this day.” and Deuteronomy 21:5a. “Then the priests, the descendants of Levi, shall come near, for Yahweh your God has chosen them to bless in the name of Yahweh…”

Therefore, Numbers 6:24-26 is known as the Aaronic Benediction or the Priestly Blessing.

These words are reflected also in Psalm 67:1,2 as “God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us.”

Some Christians use this prayer as a blessing upon children.

Jesus, the Light of the World Prayer

Jesus, the Light of the World,

As we celebrate your birth may we begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give us.
As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you
in meekness of heart.

May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving.

Amen.


Scripture Sources for Reading

Matthew 4:15-16

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, toward the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and the ones who sit in the land and shadow of death, a light has dawned on them.”

Luke 1:76-79

And so you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go on before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the merciful compassion of our God by which the dawn will visit to help us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 2:30-32

For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory to your people Israel.”

John 1:1-13

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and apart from him not one thing came into being that has come into being. In him was life, and the life was the light of humanity. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. This one came for a witness, in order that he could testify about the light, so that all would believe through him. That one was not the light, but came in order that he could testify about the light. The true light, who gives light to every person, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—he gave to them authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a husband, but of God.

John 3:16-21

For in this way God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world in order that he should judge the world, but in order that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not judged, but the one who does not believe has already been judged, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. And this is the judgment: that the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, in order that his deeds may be revealed, that they are done in God.

John 8:12

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John 12:46-50

I have come as a light into the world, in order that everyone who believes in me will not remain in the darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I will not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has one who judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken from myself, but the Father himself who sent me has commanded me what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So the things that I say, just as the Father said to me, thus I say.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

For God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” is the one who has shined in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Hebrews 1:1-3

Although God spoke long ago in many parts and in many ways to the fathers by the prophets, in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the world, who is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, sustaining all things by the word of power.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s possession, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,

2 Peter 1:19

…and we possess as more reliable the prophetic word, to which you do well if you pay attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

Revelation 22:16

“I, Jesus, sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”