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How to Pray: A Guide from an Evangelical Christian Perspective

Prayer is the lifeline of the believer, the very breath of our spiritual life. It is through prayer that we commune with our Heavenly Father, seeking His face and aligning our hearts with His will. As Evangelical Christians, we look to the Scriptures for guidance on how to pray, and there is no better teacher on prayer than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Let’s delve into the profound simplicity and power of prayer, drawing from Jesus’ teachings, especially the Lord’s Prayer, and the rest of the Bible.

The Foundation of Prayer: Relationship with God

Prayer begins with understanding our relationship with God. We pray because we are His children, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. This relationship is foundational. As John 1:12 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Our prayers are not mere rituals but the heartfelt communication of a child with their loving Father.

The Lord’s Prayer: A Model for Our Prayers

Jesus provided us with a perfect model for prayer in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). This prayer is not just to be recited but to serve as a framework for our own prayers. Let’s break it down:

  1. Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name:
    • Begin with adoration and worship. Acknowledge God’s holiness and sovereignty. Recognize His position as our Father and His place in heaven, transcending all earthly things.
  2. Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done on Earth as It Is in Heaven:
    • Submit to God’s will. Our prayers should align with His purposes, desiring His kingdom and righteousness above our own agendas. Jesus taught us to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
  3. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread:
    • Depend on God for our daily needs. This petition reflects our reliance on God for provision, echoing Jesus’ teaching that we should not worry about tomorrow but trust God for our needs each day (Matthew 6:34).
  4. And Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Forgive Our Debtors:
    • Confess our sins and forgive others. Prayer is a time for repentance and extending forgiveness. Jesus emphasized the importance of forgiving others as a reflection of the forgiveness we have received (Matthew 6:14-15).
  5. And Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From the Evil One:
    • Seek God’s protection and deliverance. Acknowledge the spiritual battles we face and ask for God’s strength to stand firm against the enemy’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us to put on the full armor of God.
  6. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen:
    • End with a doxology, praising God’s eternal power and glory. This reminds us of His ultimate authority and our purpose to glorify Him in all things.

The Attitude of Prayer

Jesus also taught about the attitude with which we should pray. In Matthew 6:5-8, He warned against praying for show and encouraged sincere, private communion with God. Prayer should be humble, genuine, and persistent. Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) illustrates the importance of persevering in prayer, trusting that God hears and answers according to His will.

Praying in the Spirit

Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 6:18 to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” This means being guided by the Holy Spirit in our prayers, aligning our hearts with His promptings and interceding according to God’s will. Romans 8:26-27 assures us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, interceding for us with groanings that words cannot express.

The Role of Scripture in Prayer

Praying according to Scripture is powerful. The Bible is God’s Word, and by incorporating it into our prayers, we align ourselves with His promises and truths. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. Use the Psalms as prayers and incorporate biblical promises into your requests.

Conclusion: A Call to Intimate Communion

Prayer is not a mere duty but a privilege, a sacred invitation to draw near to the Creator of the universe. As Paul Washer often emphasizes, it is about intimacy with God. Prayer transforms us, aligning our hearts with His purposes and filling us with His love and power. Let us commit to being a people of prayer, fervently seeking God’s face and relying on His grace.

In the words of Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Let us pray without ceasing, for our God is faithful, and His ear is inclined to the cries of His children.