Jesus’ disciples had been amazed at a lot of things about Jesus. They were blown away by his miracles. But they never asked him to teach them how to do miracles. They were astonished by his teaching as he captivated crowds of thousands. Yet they never asked him to teach them how to preach.
But when they heard Jesus praying, they asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1-2). They heard Jesus really pray and they wanted to learn.
That’s how we received the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ disciples asked how to pray after hearing him pray, so Jesus taught them.
But Jesus did not say, “Memorize this and pray these words.” There’s no indication of him intending us to repeat the same words. In fact, there’s never an instance anywhere in the Bible where people prayed a memorized or written prayer. Prayers in the Bible were from the heart. Jesus wasn’t teaching his followers to recite words like a written or memorized statement, he was teaching us how to pray.
I love using the Lord’s prayer as a template for my praying, while still using my own words and praying from my heart. I think that’s what Jesus intended.
• Start by addressing God for who he is, our heavenly father who is always right and good (“Our father…hallowed be your name”).
• Submit your influence and will to him (“Your kingdom come, your will be done”).
• Make your requests (“Give us this day our daily bread”). This is where I pray through the written list on my phone for my family, friends, and myself.
• Ask for protection (“Lead us not into temptation”). Here, I pray for my own personal struggles.
• Ask for God’s intervention in the world (“Deliver us from evil”). I then pray for issues facing our world, for God’s solution, and our direction.
By following Jesus’ outline, and the spirit he portrayed in his model prayer, you can learn to pray the way Jesus did and you will find your prayer time will become powerful. More than anything, it will change you and the way you look at things.
Here’s a key to understanding prayer. When Jesus used the word for prayer, he used the Greek word, “proseuchomai” which means “exchange wishes or desires.” The emphasis is on “exchange.” We bring to God our desires and give them to him, but then openly receive his. Genuine and heartfelt praying is not expecting God to give us whatever we ask for, but expecting God to change our way of thinking and our wishes and desires. We exchange what we want for what he wants. And we know that whatever he wants will always be better.