Summary: Prayer is a privilege given to us as a result of our relationship with God.
Prayer is an important Christian discipline. But how do we pray? The disciples requested to the Lord Jesus Christ to teach them how to pray.
When it comes to prayer, Christians were reminded not follow the ways of the religious people like Pharisees nor the way of the pagans.
1. Pray Sincerely. (Matthew 6:5-6)
Instead we are encouraged to pray with sincerity and not just to make an impression on others as holy. We should really seek God in faith recognizing that it pleases Him. Read Hebrews 11:6.
2. Pray Thoughtfully.
In relation to the pagans we are instructed to pray thoughtfully. Do not keep on babbling like pagans. Babbling means to talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited but incomprehensible way. Babbling prayer is like the babbling of a stream, making a continuous murmur as the water flows over stones.
The Greek term is battalogeo which means to repeat the same words; to use the same words again and again without content or sense. Examples of Babbling Prayers: Transcendental Meditation (chanting), Rosary, liturgical prayers, empty phrases, and religious jargons.
Babbling also means speaking without thinking; all words and no meaning. Jesus forbids his people to pray with the mouth without engaging the mind. Aside from the fact that babbling prayers do not engage the mind, Jesus gave two additional reasons.
a) For they think they will be heard because of their many words. (v. 7)
Read Ecclesiastes 5:2. Some people think that the more they say, the more likely they are to be heard. God is not impressed by the mechanics and the statistics of prayer. Nor is he impressed by the volume of words we use and the number of hours we spend in praying. Instead Jesus emphasized the sincerity and thoughtfulness of our prayer. We should think before we say something to God. But we should also mean what we say.
b) For your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (v. 8)
Know means be aware of through observation, inquiry or information. This indicates that the Father actually knows what we need before we ask him. Read Matthew 6:32
God is not ignorant so that we need to instruct him, nor hesitant so that we need to persuade him. Then what is point of praying? We pray in order:
a. That we may express our dependence and faith on Him
b. That we may relieve ourselves of worries by pouring them into His bosom
Jesus intends our minds and hearts to be involved in what we are saying. It is only then, that we have true communion with our heavenly father. If the babbling of the pagans is not the right ways, how then should we pray? See vv. 9-14.
3. Pray Confidently. (v. 9)
Pray on the basis of our relationship with God. Our prayer should be addressed to our Father in heaven. (v. 9) We are not a beggar or lobbyist before God. We are His children and children pray confidently because the Father cares. The bible speaks that we are God’s children through faith in Christ. Read John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 3:26.