A wise spiritual leader once said, “If I wished to humble anyone, I should question him about his prayers. I know of nothing to compare with this topic for its sorrowful self-confessions.”
Surely there’s not anyone who would claim to know it all and practice it all regarding prayer. After a significant time following Jesus, one of His Disciples made this request: “Lord, teach us to pray.” In response, Jesus created a model called “The Lord’s Prayer.”
So what do modern American disciples need our Lord to teach us about prayer? The Bible is more highly available to the average Christian than ever. And we have some of the most gifted teachers ever delivering messages regarding the practice of prayer. What could it be that we don’t know regarding prayer?
Is it possible that any of us are so far along in spiritual growth that we have no need for the basics of prayer? For some, a lack of knowledge is not to blame. And yet, for many, I believe it is. Too many within our congregations are “in church” but have never been trained in our Lord’s prayer teachings. There is yet another group. From their perspective, they are so advanced in the faith that they disdain the fundamentals.
This is not for those who are perfect in prayer (if there is such a person). It’s for the rest of us that are still humbly enrolled with Christ in His school of prayer.
Let’s consider six clear and unbiased facts about prayer.
1. Who should pray?
Every child of God is called into a lifestyle of prayer. God wants to hear from you. Prayer is a responsibility and a privilege. Jesus didn’t say “if you pray,” but “when you pray” (see Matthew 6:5-13). As a child of God, you have what it takes for a lifestyle of prayer. You can put into practice what you know. But remember, the first and most crucial prayer every person should pray is a prayer of repentance.
2. What should we pray about?
The short answer is to tell it all to God. Philippians 4:6-7 is the best answer to this question and is also a great passage to memorize. God cares about what you’re facing. Nothing is too big for Him. You can take Him any need, even what you think of as small needs. So seek Him for salvation, healing, relationship troubles, a direction where the Scripture isn’t clear, and so on. You will find prayer to be the cure for the everyday anxieties of life.
3. When should we pray?
Is now good for you? It is for our Father. Jesus teaches us that we should always pray and never give up. It’s always the right time. Talking to God and listening to His voice is not just for special occasions. Seek Him during the hard times. Praise Him in the good times. Focus on Him at all times. And before you know it, prayer will become a part of your everyday lifestyle.
4. Where should we pray?
Since God is everywhere (see Psalm 139:7), you can pray anywhere. You will never be in a place where you cannot talk with God. You should have times of prayer in private. And you should also make use of the strength-in-numbers group prayer. And be on the lookout for Divine appointments because God has a habit of placing His people in the right place at the right time to meet the needs of others.
5. Why should we pray?
After all, doesn’t He already know what you need? Of course, He does. But prayer has a way of connecting you with the heart of God. And by the way, God has mandated His people to prayer. Nothing can do for us what prayer can. Prayer has a way of linking us with the presence of God in a unique and personal way. And it allows you to cooperate with the plans of God. You should pray to be saved. You should pray for His help and blessings. And by all means, you should pray because you love Him.
6. How should we pray?
Prayer is not a time for role-playing. Just be real and have a heart-to-heart talk with God. You should go to God in humility. You should pray with confidence and faith. You should pray persistently. And you can pray robustly with Scripture-based prayers. But know this; prayer is not a place for showing off. Just be yourself and talk with God.
I doubt any of us have moved beyond a need for these six. Like me, most of you are overjoyed at the simplicity of prayer. And so, I encourage you to stay in the school of Christ and learn from our Lord. His promises are true, and His peace is overwhelming. He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). “Lord, teach us to pray.”