The tradition of coming near to God to enjoy communion in his presence is an old and sacred tradition, and it results in the kind of closeness that David felt when he wrote the 23rd Psalm, where King David states that God, “refreshes his soul,” “guides [him] along the right paths,” and we see the Psalmist declare that, “surely, goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Jesus makes it clear that it is necessary for us to have this sort of relationship with God if we want to be faithful followers of his. He states in John 15:5, “if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
One of the best practices that we, as followers of Jesus, can use to better abide in the Lord is prayer. It is through prayer that we can speak directly to the Creator of the Universe, and he is able to hear us.
Over and over again throughout the New Testament, it’s impressed upon us how important it is for us to commune with God in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, “pray continuously,” or to, “pray without ceasing,” in some translations. Additionally, we can read Philippians 4:6, which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This sounds great, but many people aren’t sure exactly how to approach God in prayer. Luckily, Jesus modeled a prayer for us that we’re able to both recite verbatim, and to use to craft our own prayers.
Let’s examine Jesus’ prayer, commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, as a model from which we can formulate our own prayers. This is a model you can use, based on how Jesus organized his prayer in Matthew 6:9-13:
‘Our Father in heaven,
--- Connect with God relationally ---
hallowed be your name,
--- Worship his name ---
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
--- Seek his agenda first ---
Give us today our daily bread.
--- Depend on him for everything ---
And forgive us our debts,
as we have forgiven our debtors.
--- Forgive and be forgiven ---
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”
--- Engage in spiritual warfare ---
To give an example of how this type of prayer might play out, I’ll write an example of how I might pray based on this example:
“(Connect with God relationally) Father in Heaven, I approach you today, full of gratitude for who you are. I have been adopted into sonship because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and for that I’m thankful. (Worship his name) I praise you for everything that you are, and I love your strength, wisdom, and grace. (Seek his agenda first) Lord, I pray that I will be filled and empowered by your Spirit so I can live on mission for you however you may call me today. (Depend on him for everything) I pray that you’ll bless me as I’m working my job and that I will perform well in my classes this fall. (Forgive and be forgiven) God, I pray that you will reveal to me whom I might be holding a grudge against, and that you’ll forgive me for sinning against you. (Engage in spiritual warfare) Lastly, God, I pray that you will protect my family, friends, and myself against the attacks of the enemy, and that our souls will be protected.”
Of course there are other ways in which you can pray, but as one is
learning how to pray, this is a good place to start. There are all different types of ways to commune with God, and I encourage you to look into many ways to connect with him. Whatever you practice, though, it cannot be understated how important it is for a believer to pray. “In every situation,” we’ve been given the duty and blessing to spend time in prayer with God.