In Matthew 6:9, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.
"Pray, then, in this way:"
This was not so much the teaching of what words to say because the Jews were trained to memorize the psalms and were experienced in offering praise and worship at the temple. What Jesus was teaching them was how to pray effectively. In other words, how to pray so that their prayers would be heard by God; accepted by God; and most importantly answered by God. In this regard he taught them some basic things about effective prayer:
1. Pray to the true God if you want to be heard
'Our Father who is in heaven, (vs. 9a)
From the beginning of time people have tried to communicate with the spiritual world. Only those who pray to the Father who claims Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, as His sons and Jesus Christ as His only divine Son are praying to the being who truly is God.
No amount of prayer, no degree of sacrifice, no elaborateness of ceremony can substitute for praying to the only God that exists, the creator of the world, the one who is called Father by Jesus.
Every other prayer will be a prayer, but not one directed to or heard by God, the Father, the eternal One Who is in heaven.
2. Pray with respect if you want to honor God
Hallowed be Your name. (vs. 9b)
Prayers offered to God must also be offered with the proper respect if they are to be effective. The Jews knew who God was, they were not pagans, but much of the time their prayers were not acceptable because they lacked respect for the God they were praying to:
This people honors Me with their lips
But their heart is far from Me
But in vain do they worship Me.
- Isaiah 29:13
Respectful prayer requires not only words that honor God (well-spoken prayers) but also lives that are in harmony with the words. Some prayers are ineffective because we are careless in what we say, or repetitious or we do not mean or believe what is coming out of our mouths.
Other times our prayers come before God without any effect because our lives are full of unrepented sins and attitudes that make a mockery of what we are asking in prayer.
3. Pray and then plan if you want your prayers answered
10'Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11'Give us this day our daily bread.
12'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Many times we try to use God like a genie in a bottle: someone to grant us our wishes. We lay out in front of Him in prayer everything we want and we ask Him to give it to us. Then if we get it we say thank you and if we do not we figure He did not want us to have it.
Jesus said we need to ask God to tell us what He wants first, then ask for His blessing in meeting our needs, not our wants.
We need to pray first, then plan no mot make our plan then pray.
- If we pray first then God will give us the plan.
- If we pray first, then God will help us prioritize our lives.
- If we pray first, then God will lead us away from temptation; in other words, help us to avoid plans and traps that will cause us to sin.
If we pray before planning then the plan will be God`s plan and He will provide for it; He will receive the glory for it; we will become fruitful because of it; and others will be blessed by it.
One way we can tell if our prayers are heard and honor God is if they are answered. James says that,
…the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.
- James 5:16
That is to say that there is a relationship between how we pray and whether or not God answers our prayers.
Has God been answering your prayers lately?
- If not it would not be because you do not know the true God because everyone here has been taught about the Heavenly Father.
- Perhaps it is because your attitude in prayer has not been sincere and reverent. You are not praying like you really mean it.
- Maybe your life and your prayers do not quite match.
- Perhaps it is because you are not asking for God's plan for your life, you are merely asking Him to finance your own plan for your life.
One thing I know is that the first item in God's plan for your life is that you become a Christian by believing in Jesus, repenting of your sins, being baptized in His name.
I also know that the last item in His plan is that you remain faithful until the end.