Summary: How to Pray, Jesus’ way
How to Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ May 13, 2007
Starting the Conversation: Prayer
Last week we started this series by talking about our need to first be reconciled to God before we can have a relationship with him. This week I want to talk about starting the conversation with God. How do we talk to God? In future weeks we’ll look at how we can hear from God.
The simple answer to the question, “How do I talk to God?” is to just start to talk – say anything, say what you are feeling, tell him what you hope he would do in your life, tell him about your day. It is simple as that – Just talk.
But you might be like the disciples who had been praying as good Jews for their entire life, and they came to Jesus and said, “Lord teach us to pray.” There are things about prayer that we can always learn; whether we have been praying for a long time, or if we are just starting the conversation.
The best place to look for how to pray is with the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples after they asked the question.
The Disciples ask the question in Luke’s Gospel, but we are going to look at the parallel passage in Matthew for the answer.
9 "This, then, is how you should pray:
" ’Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
(for yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever.
I’m 41 and I repeated this prayer every day in school, at least up until grade 8. I’m not sure about high school. Where is the cut off of when they stopped saying the prayer in public school? – if you went to Catholic or private school, you don’t count.
The point is, that this is a great scripture to memorize – most of us know it by heart only because we had to repeat it so many times. Your children, if they are in the public board, don’t have the gift of learning this prayer from memory – so it is up to us to teach it to them! It will put them in good stead for praying for their lives.
The reason that it is great to memorize is not so that we can rattle off the words without thinking and call it prayer, the reason is that this pray is a great model that shows us how we can shape our prayers. I want to walk through it this morning phrase by phrase that we might understand it together and that we might allow Jesus to teach us how to pray
" ’Our Father in heaven,
Jesus is the first to teach his disciples to call God “Father” Others had said that God is like a father to us, but no one had the audacity to call him “Father.”
I have shared here before that there was a time in my life – not too long ago – that I wasn’t obeying Jesus command to call God “Father.” I called him God, or Lord, but very seldom did the words “father” pass my lips in prayer. It is not that I have any great father issues, or that I was opposed to calling Him “Father,” I just didn’t.
So, with the prompting of Jesus’ prayer, I began to make a habit of calling God “Father” in my prayers. It has completely changed my first mental image of God! And it has changed my relationship with him. When you call someone “Lord” there is a distance between you, they are in charge, and you are not. This might be true of God, but it is not the whole truth. Lord gives the image of a judge, deciding whether I am in need of judgment or not. Once again, this might be true of God, but it is not the whole truth. A father may have to discipline, but my first mental image when I say father is of the forgiving father welcoming the prodigal home. When I use the name “Father” I am drawn into intimacy with my maker that I can not get to using the name “Lord.”
By inviting us to call God “father,” and starting there, Jesus is telling us that prayer is all about relationship – it is not about rattling off a bunch of words so that we can get what we want, whether they be rote prayers, or our own words, we must always be aware that we are talking to a real person who we are in relationship with.