A distinct pattern quickly emerges when you begin to examine the life of Jesus: He frequently spent time talking to His Heavenly Father through prayer.
Mark writes in his gospel that “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”. Luke adds that Jesus, “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”.
The reality is that prayer does not come naturally to us BUT it is something that we can learn. On at least one occasion, Jesus was asked to teach His followers how to pray. We often call His answer the Lord’s Prayer:
Pray then like this: “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.” – Matthew 6:9–13
Now this prayer was intended to be a model for how we are to pray. The Lord’s Prayer gives us a pattern that we should incorporate in our prayer time. Jesus’ model for prayer moves in two directions: 1) it moves in the direction of God, 2) it moves in the direction of our needs.
We begin by addressing God as our Father, asking Him to exalt His name & extend His rule in our lives. After worshipping God, we ask for His daily provision, daily pardon, and daily protection.
Here’s a simple pattern that I was taught to help me better understand prayer and consistently spend time talking to God. My hope this helps you as well.
CONNECT WITH GOD RELATIONALLY –
“Our Father in Heaven”
- God isn’t interested in us practicing religion; He desires a relationship with us.
- God has adopted us as His children and invites us to approach Him as our Father.
- You can go boldly before the throne of God and just tell him what’s on your heart without all the posturing or obsessing over sounding spiritual or saying the right words.
WORSHIP HIS NAME –
“Hallowed Be Your Name”
- The purpose of prayer is to worship God…to exalt His name.
- By beginning with worship…we acknowledge He is better than anything we could ask Him for and we recognize that the purpose of our lives is to glorify His name.
PRAY HIS AGENDA FIRST –
“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done…”
- Prayer is NOT about getting God to help us and help us with our agendas and plans.
- Prayer is about aligning our lives with His plans and seeking to join God where He is working.
DEPEND ON HIM FOR EVERYTHING –
“Give us this day our daily bread”
- Jesus is calling us to daily, ongoing dependence on our Father in heaven.
- It means that day by day we are to look to God as the ultimate source of anything and everything we need.
- Nothing is off limits – If it matters to you, it matters to God, and you can bring it to Him in pray.
FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN –
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”
- Ask God to forgive you & help you forgive others.
- When we repent of our sins and receive God’s forgiveness, our hearts are more prepared to forgive others.
ENGAGE IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE –
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
- Scripture makes it very clear that we have an enemy who is trying to steal from us, kill us, and destroy us.
- As we pray…we take our stand against the enemy and fight from a place of victory through Jesus.
- James 4:7 says that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. Through prayer, we can resist him and walk forward in the freedom we have in Jesus.
Keep in mind that prayer is a spiritual muscle that grows as you use it. The more you pray, the more you know how to pray, and the more you desire to pray. So, start with 5 minutes a day if that is all you can handle, and commit to doing it every day for a month. I believe you’ll be amazed at where it goes from there.