1 Way to Pray: Use the Lord’s Prayer As a Guide

Sometimes we can't focus our thoughts to pray. Here is a tool that might help.

Our minds might read like a blank screen when we want to pray—or we start and wonder, “Am I doing it right?”

We are not alone.

Jesus’ closest followers, known as the 12 disciples, asked Jesus to teach them to pray—probably because they, too, wondered if they did it the “right” way. They witnessed Jesus slipping away often for times of solitude and prayer, but what did he actually do in this time?

Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

What is Prayer?

Prayer is simply talking to God.

We can pray in many ways! Maybe that is why the disciples wanted to know how Jesus did it, because it seemed unlike what they were used to: standing in the temple or synagogue.

The Book of Matthew records Jesus’ response to the request for a teaching on prayer. This passage is widely known as the “Lord’s Prayer,” although we might better describe it as “The Disciple’s Prayer,” for it teaches us a framework for what to include in prayer.

When we wonder what to pray, we can use the prayer Jesus taught his follower as a step-by-step prayer-guide.

Using the Lord’s Prayer as a Guide

The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9–13 (NASB)

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day [d]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.’

(added by church tradition): For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Suggested Prompts Through the Lord’s Prayer:

Let the Holy Spirit lead you through the above scripture and prompt you to pray, but if you would like more guidance, here is help.

Our Father, who is in heaven. “

Open your prayer with your focus on God the father. (He is our perfect father, no matter how imperfect our earthly fathers are/were). Acknowledge his position as one over all creation, visible and invisible (in heaven).

    Hollowed by Your name.

    Revere God’s holiness. He is completely perfect, good and right—beyond our understanding. Worship him. “Worship is the essence of all prayer.”[1]

    Your kingdom come.

    Where do you see the need for God’s kingdom? Invite him. Pray specifically about people, places, situations.

    Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

    Ask God to do his will in all the specific people, places, and situations you are praying about. Yield your trust to him. He works in the physical and supernatural (earth and heaven). Even when things do not go our way, if we pray, we can trust the bigger plan of God.

    Give us this day our daily bread.

    Ask him for what you and others need for today.

    Forgive us our debts.

    Take time to confess and repent of your sin. Ask the Spirit to reveal even the smallest of sin. God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin when we confess and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

    As we also have forgiven our debtors.”

    Who do you have resentment toward? Unforgiveness? Ask the father to help you release them into his hand and to forgive them from your heart. If we do not forgive, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness (Matthew 6:14­–15).

    Do not lead us into temptation.”

    Ask God to help you keep out of situations that deter you and others from following Jesus.

    Deliver us from evil.”

    Ask God to deliver you and others from whatever kinds of evil you see in your life and the lives of others. Pray specifically.

    Suggested ending:

    In church tradition, this prayer ended in “For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, amen.” In other words, end your prayer in worship and yielding your life to God’s plans and work.

    Final Thought: The Nature of Prayer

    Prayer is an organic, Spirit-led time of drawing near to God. We draw near to him in authentic relationship, as we yield our lives to him. It is how we align our hearts to his will, on earth as it is in heaven.

    Prayer is also a powerful tool to combat the work of the enemy (see Ephesians 6). Prayer offered in faith is not dainty, but dangerous. Prayer invites the power of God to work in and through our lives.

    If we feel regrets in heaven, I think me might regret how little we prayed. Prayer can change lives. How many lives are left unchanged because we are unmotivated to pray?

    Just start. And keep going. Pray always. Pray all kinds of prayer. Pray in every situation. Pray. Pray. Pray.

    [1] Louis A. Barbieri Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 32.

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