Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be honored. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:7-13 NLT)
Have you ever gone to a church where the pastor begins to pray, and twenty minutes later, he/she is still praying the same prayer, repeating him/herself over and over and over and over and over and… well, you get the picture? Or have you ever listened to someone pray, and they keep using these big, long words and you’re not even sure if they know what they’re saying, let alone anyone else? Or how about the person who, whenever he/she is asked to pray, starts yelling and shouting, in a certain rhythmic style, always praying the same way, every time they are asked to pray, and you wonder, is this prayer meant to impress the Lord, or is this prayer meant to impress the people?
Do you ever listen to people pray and think, “Man, I could never pray like that!” Have you ever had prayer envy? You know, some people seem to pray so beautifully, and their words just flow out of their mouth, while all that comes out of yours is just, “God, help me!”
Well, cheer up! According to Jesus, God isn’t at all impressed by the big words, lengthy prayers, repetitions and rhythmic prayers. Remember? He’s the Word, so why would the Word be impressed by words? The Lord wants us to communicate with Him. Period.
When I have a conversation with my husband, I don’t often use big, long words (unless I’ve just learned a new one that I like). When I talk to him, I look him in the eye, and I say exactly what’s on my mind at the time. Sometimes, I don’t even have to say anything, because we are intimate. We’ve been married for over 31 years, and we know each other. Sometimes, I know just what he’s thinking without either one of us saying a word.
When I have a conversation with my husband, I’m not always the one who does all the talking. Sometimes, I keep my mouth shut and just listen to what He is saying to me. 🙂 Sometimes, I like what I’m hearing, and sometimes, I don’t. But that’s the way it is with communication and conversation. That’s the way it should be with prayer.
I can just imagine the look I would get from my husband if I started shouting and chanting at him. He would probably think I’ve lost what little bit of sense I did have. And so, I have to wonder how the Lord feels when we do that.
Oh, I know, some of you may be thinking, “You’re talking about having a conversation with your husband, but that’s different than praying to God.” Is it really?
Jesus said that we’re His bride, so doesn’t that make Him our husband? And if He calls Himself our bridegroom (husband), well, doesn’t that imply that He wants to be intimate with us? And if He is our Husband, then that makes God our Father. Would you ever walk up to your dad and start shouting, or drone on and on and on and on and on…? When you’re asking him for something, would you keep using great big long words that you wouldn’t use in a normal conversation with him? Would you call him “Thee” or “Thou”?
If your answer is no to those questions, then why do we think we should do that with God? And why should we feel “less than” someone else who does pray to God like that? Is it just possible that people and churches who pray like this have become “religious”?
We have to be really careful, because sometimes, we can become religious without even meaning to. We might look at some people who don’t pray or praise as loudly as we do, and look down on them. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. We look down on ourselves, because we just don’t seem to fit in the same mold as everyone else around us, and we keep trying to fit ourselves into a church’s or another person’s mold. Brothers and sisters, if this describes you, STOP IT!
Jesus knew that the scribes and pharisees didn’t know how to pray to God, and that the people had been trained by them, so they didn’t know how to pray either. The truth is, every one of us needs to be taught to pray. It doesn’t come automatically to us.
That’s why Jesus teaches us how to pray in His word. Now when we read this prayer, understand that Jesus didn’t say these are the words that must be used. He said, “Pray like this.” This is an outline for how to pray, not what to say.
“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be honored. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Let’s break this down…
- Our Father in heaven… we’re praying to our daddy who lives in heaven
- May Your name be honored… honor him when we’re praying, show our reverence and our respect for His holy name
- May Your Kingdom come soon… we’re asking Him to bring His Kingdom down here to us right now, on earth, right where we’re at
- May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven… let Him know that we’re not asking for things to be done our way. We want His will. We want what He wants to happen right here on earth, just like it already does in heaven.
- Give us our food for today… We’re asking the Lord to take care of our needs today. We’ll talk to Him about tomorrow when it gets here, but for now, Lord, please just give me what I need to do what You’ve called me to do today.
- Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us… Don’t forget to ask the Lord to forgive you for sinning against Him, and make sure that while you’re asking for forgiveness, you’ve forgiven people who have sinned against you.
- And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one… We don’t have time for big fancy words here, sometimes, all we have time to do is say “God, help me!” Ask Him to help us not to fall into the same traps that keep catching us, and ask Him to save you from the enemy!
I love how Jesus breaks it down for us. Praise God! I don’t have to pray like anyone else, and I don’t have to shout and turn red in the face to make God hear me. He’s not deaf to my cries. I just need to talk to Him just like I talk to my husband or father, and because we’re intimate, sometimes, I need to be quiet and listen as He speaks to me.
Isn’t it awesome to know that He wants to hear from us, and that He doesn’t want us to fall into the trap of praying like everyone else, or shouting at Him (sometimes shouting out to Him is good, depending on the situation and the urgency of your prayer, but not every time you pray)? He just wants us to open the lines of communication, and His ear is attentive to our needs. 🙂
Cheryl A. Showers