“When You Pray...”

By Darwin Hunter


Jesus was a Man of prayer.  Without question, His prayer life was thrilling to the disciples, and expressed a deep-seated devotion and dependence upon His Father.  When they heard the Lord pray, they wanted Him to teach them how to pray like that! (Luke 11:1)  In Matthew 6:5ff, Jesus gave a number of lessons on scriptural, availing prayer.  If you want a better prayer life study what the Lord taught about the activity.  Jesus taught that “when you pray...”

1. You should spend time in private prayer (Matthew 6:5).  Jesus did not condemn public prayer.  He prayed publicly at times (John 6:11, 11:41-42). Jesus is warning about a prayer life that is exclusively public in order to “be seen of men.”  If the only time we pray is in a public worship assembly, our devotion to God is paltry and powerless.  Jesus instructed us to enter our room, shut the world out, and pour out our hearts to God.  Such a prayer life wilt draw you near to God (James 4:8).

2. You should humbly speak to God from the heart (Matthew 6:7-8). Jesus specifically warned against “vain repetitions.”  Ritualistic, memorized prayer repeated without thinking over and over is condemned by the Lord.  He characterized It as “unbelief which viewed their idols as being impressed with “many words” (cf. I Kings 18:25-40).  Things repeated over and over from memory which do not fit the occasion, or do not spring from a committed heart, are considered futile by God! (Matthew 15:8-9)

3. You should pray reverently to the Father (Matthew 6:9).  Jesus addressed His prayer thoughts to His Father, and taught us to do the same (John 17).  We are to pray to the Father through the Son (John 16:23-28), who is our only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5- 6).  God’s name Is to be “hallowed” or set apart as most holy (Psalms 99:1-3, 111:9; Hebrews 12:28).  The God of Heaven is not our “Daddy” or “the Man upstairs,” but our Creator and Benefactor.

4. You should pray your petitions from an obedient heart (Matthew 6:10). The fulfillment of the petition, “Your will be done on earth,” begins with me.  We must surrender to the Father’s will, and help others to do so (Hebrews 5:8-9). Jesus prayed a similar prayer in the Garden to prepare Himself for the ordeal of the Cross (Matthew 26:37-46).  The Father’s will was always uppermost on His mind, and must be on ours (Luke 2:49; Hebrews 10:9-10).  A disobedient life will turn God away from our petitions (1 Peter 3:12; Psalms 66:18) But a humble submissive disciple can confidently ask God to give him daily bread (Matthew 7:7-11; 1 John; 5:14).

5. You should pray with a forgiving attitude (Matthew 6:12).  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Hold a grudge, and God will hold one (Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21-35).  We all need God’s forgiveness each day, and cannot afford to lose it.  Thus, we should extend forgiveness as often as it is requested (Luke 17:3-4).

6. You should pray to overcome temptation (Matthew 6:13).  Pray specifically about the strong desires which you need to learn to control (James 1:13ff).  Pray that you will always desire and seek the way of escape” that you may not fall (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).  Satan is strong, but God’s power Is greater (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John. 4:4)!

7. Always pray.  Jesus said “when you pray,” not IF (1 Thessalonians 5:17).