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A simple way to begin to pray

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13). 

The first time I read that passage, I assumed this was the only prayer to be said. Recite and repeat daily, and I can check prayer off my to-do list. 

Recently, Jesus opened my eyes to not just reading His Word but understanding it. Look at Matthew 6:9-13 sentence by sentence, and we can see what Jesus meant by “this, then, is how you should pray.”

1. Praise God. 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

Tell God everything you love about Him. The entire chapter of Psalm 150 is about praising God for everything and with anything. Be specific! If we love a specific compliment and we are created in God's image, how much more does God want to hear what we love about Him?

2. Submit yourself to God’s way.

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Pray that your eyes will always be open and able to see His will, not your own. Obey God’s plan even when it runs counter to your own. 

3. Ask God for what you need.

“Give us today our daily bread.”

God is our provider. Like a good father, He is able to give us what we need when we need it (Matthew 7). 

4. Forgive and request forgiveness. 

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Further down in Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgive others just like God forgives you. If you don’t, He won’t. Confess, repent, forgive, extend grace, and repeat. Holding a grudge can only make you miserable.

5. Examine yourself.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

What has or is holding you back? What is tempting you? What has the enemy been using to keep you from growing closer to God? The first step in removing temptation is recognizing it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I think Jesus was setting an example for us on how to have a conversation with God. Prayer is not just about demanding the sick to be healed or requesting needs you couldn’t attain on your own. It is a conversation between you and your Savior. An occasion for more of Jesus’ presence, and a chance to submit to His will.

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