weekly devotional

1-19-22

Structures of Prayer

I cannot say how many times I sat to pray with the Lord and had nothing to say. Not sure what to say or where to start. There are many times where I have started praying without a plan or a guide. Sometimes I start praying and continue to think of more and more things to pray for in our world. Admittedly, most of the time that I start praying without a guide or a structure of some kind, I end up reciting similar and familiar prayers. Sometimes I will think of one or two more people to pray for, but many times I don’t. My prayers begin feeling less meaningful and more mechanical. They move from being the important conversations to being something I feel like I should do and then drag myself into completing so I can get a gold star. God is not looking for us to simply complete the task, rather, He wants us to spend time with Him. But the question remains, “How do I spend meaningful time with God in prayer?”


In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us a format for prayer. He wants us to know what to say and how to say it. As though we could have a conversation with Him in the same way we do our mom, dad, or friends. Jesus wants us to be open and honest, but He is not looking for gold star seeking followers who only want a good prayer life for their benefit. Look at the structure that Jesus gave to help us enter into prayer with confidence.

 

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:5-8


For starters we see that prayer is not about being seen by others for the wonderful words and sentences we are able to construct. We should never look to get attention through our ability to pray. We should also avoid trying to pray with eloquence when we are by ourselves, as though we can impress God. Instead, Jesus is saying be as open and honest as you can before God in prayer. Do not try to impress but rather be the person that God created you to be. In the following verses Jesus gives us a format of how to pray, look at these next five verses. 


9 “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 this day 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 evil. 


Each verse has instruction to give us a format of prayer. 

9 – Hallowed = Holy. “May You be seen as known as Holy. You are set apart, there is no one like You.” We should start our time in prayer by recognizing that God is the greatest, most significant being that will ever exist. For that alone, we should take a moment to praise and worship Him. 


10 – This is praying that everything that God has planned would come to be. That earth would be transformed and sin removed. That earth would be ruled and run the same way as heaven. A place where sin is not permitted and God has His way. Our prayer here is to pray for His kingdom to grow in people and in depth. That He would break us from sin and lead us to be more like Him. 


11 – Lord give us everything we need today. Pray for the things you need – wisdom, courage, food, or even hard situations. 


12 – Recognize your sin before God. Openly admit it and ask for forgiveness. Also, if there is someone you need to forgive, this would be an appropriate time to do it.

 

13 – God keep us from sinning again. Give us the strength and courage we need to live life your way. 

By following this model, we will have focused times of prayer that are concerned about God being worshiped, His kingdom advancing, our needs to be taken care of, our sins forgiven, forgiveness for others, and protection from sin. This is a great format of prayer to follow that can help draw us into deeper relationships with Jesus. I hope that you will take some time today to use the structure that Jesus offers us. It is important to note that there are many ways to structure your prayer time. This one is important as it comes directly from God to us. We will continue to learn other ways that we can have a guided prayer time to make sure we are growing and maturing in our prayer life. 


Action Step: 

Read Matthew 6:5-15. Take some time to pray using the structure that Jesus gives us in verses 9-13. Do not simply recite these words, but using the description of each verse, make it personal to you and your time with the Lord.