I hear so many people in the different churches and denominations praying many different ways. Most of them go on and on and it feels like it is never going to end, it is as if they like hearing themselves talk. Then, they throw in a couple odd names for God. Other times they just throw in a couple fathers and try to make it sound good, trying to impress others around them and in their church. I feel most are trying to prove they are as holy or close to the Lord as the pastor, it is like a game to make you stand out as someone who has a good relationship with Him but in reality they are just adding words to make it seem more grandiose than they really are. The goal of prayer is not to impress those around you, it is not to sound smart, it is not a time to make others think more highly of you and it is certainly not a time to take it lightly. Prayer is a time where we can go to the foot of the throne of God himself and give our worries and struggles to Him. Just think about that for a moment, we can go straight to the creator of the universe and talk with Him.
Jesus himself lays out how we are to pray, he was speaking to the apostles:
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” -Matthew 6:9-15 NIV
He tells us to pray in His (Jesus) name. Since we pray in His name, what should we pray for? Is there anything that is off limits? Here is what scripture says:
“13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” -John 14:13-14 NIV
5 ”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”” -John 14:5-7 NIV
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9 NIV
Needs and wants are very different, God will answer the prayers of the needs and he might answer the prayers of the wants. Jesus says that our needs will be met, not our wants. Does that mean that we should not ask for our wants? Of course we should, we need to bring everything to Jesus. He says in His word that all we have to do is ask and we shall receive. We need to have an open, ongoing conversation with Him.
Prayer is not a race, it is not to show you are closer to God than anyone else, it is not anything more than coming to the foot of God’s throne. We need to treat it with the sincerity it deserves.
“If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look ‘little’ or ‘big’.” –Elisabeth Elliot