Locations & Times

Devotional: Teach Us to Pray

by Leigh Ann Dilley on May 01, 2024

We all know the Lord's Prayer and can probably recite it from memory. What made the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray? Praying was nothing new for the disciples. Jews have a long history of prayer. Perhaps they noticed Jesus' prayers were different. But, more likely, they noticed the manor of His relationship with God was different. He wasn't so much teaching them the words to say, but rather the posture of the heart that goes with the words. He was teaching them His system.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. "Our" Father implies that we, as believers, are connected as a family. Calling God holy (hallowed) is not an ego boost for God. It's meant to remind us we are talking to the creator of all things who holds all authority and all power. It reminds us of who God is and who we are. I'm sure, at times, Jesus' prayers were informal and conversational, but He taught us to begin with a proclamation to recognize God is sovereign. When we start prayer with acclamation, it brings us into the proper posture to talk with God.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. As Christians, we believe that prayer releases the power to transform and change things in this world. Intercessory prayers matter because they invite God into situations here on earth, but do we pray like Jesus? So often, we ask for our will to be done. Jesus' prayers are empowered and confident because He knows His Father is omniscient (knows all things) and He prayers with an eternal perspective. Consider Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus accepts God's will over His own. Can you imagine the impact of our prayers if we prayed for God's will instead of asking for what we think is better? Adam and Eve made this mistake when they ate the forbidden fruit, and we have lived with the consequences ever since. How can we pray from an eternal perspective?

Give us this day, our daily bread. This seems contradictory to praying for God's will, but the long and the short of it is God cares about our daily needs: food, shelter, clothing, and beyond, and we are allowed to ask for those things. He is a good Father, and He wants to hear us talk to Him about our wants and needs. Our Father wants to give us good gifts. Nothing is too small or silly to talk to God about.

Forgive us our sins and we forgive those who sin against us. Let's face it, this is not the first time we've heard about the importance of forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15, paraphrased, says, "Forgive others so God will forgive you. If you don't your Father will not forgive your sins." This appears to say if forgiveness is not given on earth, then judgment will be given in heaven. Forgiveness has stages: 

1. Lip Service, where nothing changes
2. Attitude change, where healing begins
3. Prayer for those who hurt you

Praying for those who hurt you is an act of love. Love changes things.

And lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. Temptation is anything that leads us away from God's will. Evil is a willful rejection of God or God's will. This statement implies a responsibility as well as a request. God does not lead us into temptation. God is all good and gives us wisdom and discernment to recognize paths of temptations, but it's our responsibility to avoid them. Deliver us from evil is a request for protection. Where do you need God's wisdom, discernment, and protection?

Once we have prayed in these postures, we are better able to offer the closing phrase: for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

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