by Samuel Brooks
I’m struggling with figuring out what I should pray for, so how should I be praying? Is simply repeating the Lord’s Prayer sufficient?
Jesus discusses this topic in Matthew 6:5-18 and Luke 11:1-13. So I’m going to break down the meaning of each part of the Lord’s Prayer in verses 9-13 of Matthew 6 and verses 2-4 of Luke 11:
“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.”
- The first part is “glorifying God” (e.g. thank you for another day, You’re so holy Father, etc).
- The second part is “I need help” (e.g. repenting and asking for forgiveness of sins, financial or marital troubles, guidance, wisdom, healing, etc).
- The third part is “they need help” (e.g. your family members and friends, the homeless individual sitting by a dumpster, your enemies and those that persecute you that God will be involved in their lives, etc).
- The final part is ending the prayer with “Amen” or “In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Matthew 6:5-8, Luke 10:21 and 18:10-14, Psalms 68:5-6, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Galatians 4:6, Isaiah 1:18 and 55:7, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Chronicles 16:8-9, John 1:14 and 16:23, Colossians 1:15-19 and Revelation 3:20 are good reference points!
Growing up, I attended many different churches. In several of these churches, I noticed that the prayers were typically pre-planned and written down to be read to the congregation. Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing prayers down but it needs to come from the heart. The same can be said about the Sinner’s Prayer and Serenity Prayer (however, these two prayers in particular aren’t Biblical). At one of the churches I had attended, I can remember that the pastor would start with the same exact prayer. After hearing this over and over again, I got the impression that the prayer wasn’t very sincere as it wasn’t from the heart. Prayers would also end with the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer. Even though it’s Biblical, the purpose of the Lord’s Prayer isn’t to be recited but to help us in how to pray when we’re not sure what to pray about. For me, the only prayer that I really repeat word for word anymore is for safety when I travel and when I say grace before meals.
Now, I’ve also heard people pray, in the order, to the Father, then to the Son and then to the Holy Spirit before ending the three prayers with an Amen. There’s an issue with this form: 1) it comes close to tritheism and subordinationism, which are both heresies and 2) when you pray to the Father and Holy Spirit, you’re also praying to the Son because the FULLNESS of the Godhead dwells in Christ (Colossians 2:9). There’s a decent size list of scriptural passages that I could provide here, but for the sake of not turning this post into a book, if you’d like more passages to reference, feel free to contact us.
Furthermore, Scripture discusses how we should also “pray in the Spirit” (e.g. Romans 8:26, Ephesians 6:18, Jude 1:20, John 4:24). This is only done when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, and this is only proven when we speak in other tongues. There’s so many other verses on prayer so I recommend researching them on your own time.
To summarize, according to Lucado, “Prayer is, and needs to be, simple. Don’t complicate it, be prideful in well-crafted prayers, or apologize for incoherent prayers. Don’t play games or cover things up. Simply be honest with God!”