One of the great privileges we have as Christians is praying to our Father in heaven. Though he is infinitely greater than we are, we can speak to him at any time about anything. We do not have to make a special reservation to talk to him, we do not have to meet him at a special place, and we do not have to use special words or a special tone of voice when talking to him. All we need is a humble and sincere desire to bring before God the deepest feelings and desires of our hearts. God truly wants us to do that. And he promises to listen when we do!

1. Why should we pray?
The Bible frequently encourages us and even commands us to pray. Prayer is the gateway to a close and precious relationship to our Father in heaven.
Scripture References
The prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. (Proverbs 15:8)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

2. How should we pray?
We should pray in the name of Jesus. Praying in the name of Jesus does not mean that we simply say the name of Jesus when we pray. Rather, it means that we pray humbly, confidently and expectantly because of what Jesus has done for us and in order for our lives
to show the life of Jesus in us.
Scripture References
Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
Jesus said: “Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)
[Give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)

3. What should we pray about?
We should pray about anything and everything. Though God is infinite and rules over the entire world, he is concerned about even the smallest things in our lives. Even when others might not want to be bothered by our concerns, God is never bothered when we come to him humbly, thoughtfully, and sincerely—no matter what may be on our hearts or minds. Though we may pray about anything, we pray especially that we may know God better, advance his reign in our world, be filled with his Spirit, and overcome the power of sin and Satan.
Scripture References
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
[Pray] at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints [believers]. (Ephesians 6:18)

4. When should we pray?
We may pray at any time. It is often helpful to set aside a special time for prayer each day, but we should not restrict our praying to one particular time. God is willing to hear our prayers at any time of day or night. We may pray while walking, driving, resting, working, playing or at any other time. We may pray publicly or we may pray silently when others around us are not even aware that we are praying. There is no time or situation when praying is inappropriate.
Scripture References
All night he [Jesus] continued in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:14)
From the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)

5. Where should we pray?
We can pray anywhere and be assured that God hears our prayers wherever we are. However, it is often desirable to have a quiet place where we can pray to God without distractions. Jesus himself went off by himself to quiet places where he could be alone with his Father in heaven.
Scripture References
He [Daniel ]went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God. (Daniel 6:10)
Kneeling down on the beach, we prayed. (Acts 21:5)
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. (Acts 10:9)
Jesus said: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:6)
He [Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:16)
He [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

6. Is there a special posture we should have when we pray?
No. We should always be thoughtful, humble, reverent and sincere when we pray, but there is no special posture required in order for us to pray in a way that pleases God. We may bow, kneel, sit, stand, raise our hands, or lie prostrate on the ground when praying. Many people, however, feel that kneeling in prayer is a special sign of sincerity and reverence and therefore usually kneel when they pray in private and often in public as well.
Scripture References
I desire then that in every place the men should pray. (1 Timothy 2:8)
I . . . fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God. (Ezra 9:5-6)
The tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)
[The king] bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. (2 Chronicles 20:18)
He [Jesus] fell on his face and prayed. (Matthew 26:39)
Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. (1 Kings 8:54)

7. Is it appropriate to pray directly to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit as well as to the Father?
Yes. The resurrected and ascended Jesus is reigning as the ruler over the entire universe and is always willing to listen when we pray. The Holy Spirit is our comforter and guide and the one who enables us to live a Christian life. He also hears us when we pray. The Christian church has therefore produced a number of hymns of petition or praise which are specifically directed to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit.
Scripture References
Jesus said, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness . . . the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints [believers] according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

8. Does God hear and answer our prayers?
Absolutely! He hears and answers all the prayers of those who pray according to his will. However, he does not always answer our prayers in the way that we personally would choose or desire. At times his response may be “No” and at other times his response may be “Not now.” Sometimes he may give us something much better than we had asked for, even though we may not understand immediately why it is better. But whatever his answer might be, we may be confident that our prayers are always heard. (See also questions 10 and 11.)
Scripture References
This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:14)
Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

9. Are there any specific examples in the Bible of God’s answers to prayer?
Yes. The Bible has many wonderful examples of God’s answers to the prayers of his people. Women who were barren gave birth to children, prisoners were set free, battles were won, protection was provided, water and food were given, wisdom was granted, lives were changed, and many other blessings were experienced in answer to prayer.
Scripture References
Hannah said: “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28)
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:17-18)
Elijah prayed: “Answer me, O LORD . . . so these people may know that you, O LORD, are God” . . . Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering . . . When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 Kings 18:37-39)
The angel Gabriel came to Zechariah and said: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” (Luke 1:3)
They lifted their voices together to God . . . And when they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:24, 31)
So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. . . . an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. (Acts 12:5,7)
(Read the entire story of Peter’s miraculous deliverance in Acts 12: 1-17.)

10. Are there any things that might cause God not to answer our prayers in the way we desire?
Yes. Though God is merciful and gracious, there are certain conditions which must usually be met before our prayers will be answered. Among them are humility, sincerity, obedience, faith, right motives, commitment, and a forgiving spirit. If these and other conditions are not met, our prayers might not be answered in the way we desire.
Scripture References
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18)
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3)
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)

11. Does this mean that our prayers will not be answered unless we are totally free from sin and personal weaknesses?
No. No one is totally free from sin or personal weaknesses. If we repent and ask for forgiveness, we will be restored to a right relationship with God. However, if we deliberately continue to sin without repentance or genuine sorrow for our sins, God will definitely be displeased with us and our prayers might not be answered.
Scripture References
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. . . I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity . . . and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be
found. (Psalm 32:3-6)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:10,13)

12. Are there any other reasons (besides those referred to above) why God might not grant us what we ask for?
Yes. God might not grant what we ask for if our desires or requests are not in accord with his own will or purposes.
Scripture References
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
To the Christians in Rome Paul wrote: [You are] always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. (Romans 1:10, 13)
Paul wrote: So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Jesus himself prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

13. Is prayer primarily a matter of asking God for things we want or need?
No! Prayer does include requests or petitions, but it also involves praise, confession, and thanksgiving. If the only time we pray is when we want or need something from God for ourselves or others, we do not have the kind of fellowship with God which he wants us to
Scripture References: CONFESSION
O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. (Ezra 9:6)
I [Daniel] turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes . . . we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. (Daniel 9:3-5)
Scripture References: THANKSGIVING
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 105:4)
Scripture References: PRAISE
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95:6-7)
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

14. Is it better to pray alone or to pray with others?
It’s important for us to pray frequently when we are alone with God. However, it’s also important for us to pray frequently with others. The Bible has many examples of both individual prayers and the prayers of larger groups of people who join their voices and hearts
together in bringing their praise and petitions to the Lord.
Scripture References
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. (Matthew 6:6)
I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:14)
So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church . . . many were gathered together and were praying. (Acts 12:5,12)

15. Is it desirable for us to fast when we pray?
Many people fasted in Bible times and many still do so today. Fasting is good if it helps us focus our hearts and minds on God and if it is a genuine sign of reverence, sincerity and humility before God. We should not fast, however, in order to try to earn favor with God. God may reward our prayer and fasting, but he grants us his blessing because of his own mercy and grace and not on the basis of our merits.
Scripture References
[Ezra] proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. . . . So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. (Ezra 8:21-23)
As soon as I [Nehemiah] heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)
I [Daniel] turned my face to the LORD God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. (Daniel 9:3)
She [Anna] did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. (Luke 2:37)
And when they [Paul and Barnabas] had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:23)

16. Does God give us only those things we ask for in prayer?
No. God often grants us far more than we ask, much more than we deserve, and at times even more than we can imagine. Besides, sometimes we are too sick, too tired, or too confused to know what to ask for.
Scripture References
Now to him [God] who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus . . . forever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20)
God said to Solomon: “I now do according to your word . . . I give you also what you have not asked.”(1 Kings 3:12-13)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Malachi 3:10)

17. What is meant by “The Lord’s Prayer”?
That is the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples.
Scripture Reference
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and 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)

Exploring Further

1. What is prayer?
In its simplest form, prayer is communicating with God. That communication usually finds expression in spoken words or conscious thoughts. However, at times people also communicate with God through tears of confession, unspoken longings, unexpressed desires, or other ways of directing their hearts and minds to the Lord. In this lesson the focus is on communication with God through spoken words or unspoken thoughts.

2. Does a person have to be a born again believer in order to pray to God? Does a person have to be born again in order to have his prayers answered?
The answer to both questions is NO. God is very gracious and invites every sincere person to share his deepest feelings and longings with him in prayer. Not only is God willing to hear and listen to the prayers of those who sincerely and humbly seek him, he also often answers them. People who are not (yet) believers but who sincerely cry out to God—even when they are not sure that God exists—may receive a gracious answer from God. The Lord does not promise to answer the prayers of everyone in the way they desire, but his ears are open to all who earnestly seek him and cry out to him. Consider the following passages: Deuteronomy 4:20; 1 Kings 8:46-50; Isaiah 14:1-5; Isaiah 55:1, 6-7; Psalm 65:2; Psalm 78:34; Joel 2:13; Malachi 3:7-8; Luke 11:10; Luke 15:20.

3. Is it desirable to have set times for prayer? Or is it better to pray only when we feel like praying, so that our prayers will be genuine and sincere?
It’s very helpful to have set times for prayer each day, since this will almost certainly strengthen our prayer life. If we don’t have set times, it is easy to neglect praying because of busyness, laziness, interruptions, tiredness or forgetfulness. Most of those who have a strong prayer life do have set times for prayer and usually also pray frequently throughout the day (or night) when they are aware of any special need or blessing—whether in their own life or in the lives of others.
An effective prayer life does not come automatically when we become Christians. Many people, even very sincere people, let their prayer life slip to the point where they are no longer intense and passionate about prayer and spend less and less time praying. And as they pray less often or less fervently, they lose their sweet communion with the Lord, they see fewer answers to their prayers, and they become less effective in their Christian life. Jesus himself prayed frequently and fervently. Paul was also a man of prayer. And in the Old Testament, Daniel was known for his faithful prayers and the wonderful answers he received as a result of his faithfulness. See, for example, Luke 5:16; Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18; and Daniel 6:10.

4. How can we strengthen our prayer life?
It is helpful to maintain some kind of schedule for regular, daily prayers. Included will be prayers in the morning after rising, prayers in the evening before retiring, and prayers at meal times. It is also helpful to develop and maintain a list of things for which to pray. This list should be readily accessible, if possible, so that you can write things down whenever you think of them—and before you forget them. It is also helpful to maintain a record of prayers that have been answered in a special way. Looking back over your list of answered prayers will give you additional incentive to pray about other significant things that come to your attention. Also, when you see on your prayer list things that have not (yet) been answered in some definite way, you will be reminded to pray again for them. It is also helpful to write down the date when you first prayed for a specific need or situation and, when appropriate, the time when the prayer was answered.
It can also be very beneficial to have some set times for praying with others. By doing so, you can encourage one another while also being made aware of other special needs and concerns for which to pray.
Some people are also blessed and encouraged to pray by reading stories or articles or books on prayer. It’s a great blessing to read the stories of great prayer warriors in the past (or present) who are exceptionally faithful and effective in their prayer life. It can also be instructive and helpful at times to read the prayers which have been offered by others. Sometimes it may become somewhat routine to pray all the time for the same things in the same way. By reading (or hearing) the prayers of others, you may be able to add a certain richness and effectiveness and diversity to your own prayers.
The many prayers in the Bible can be especially helpful for guiding and enriching your prayer life. Indeed, the most important aid to prayer is reading the Bible regularly. Prayer is speaking to God, and reading the Bible is listening to God. The Holy Spirit helps you to pray more wisely and effectively as you respond to the Spirit speaking through Scripture. Prayer becomes more interactive and not just a one-way attempt to speak to God.

5. What are some reasons why God might not answer our prayers in the way we would like?
There are various reasons why God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we would like. Included are such things as disobedience, secret or unconfessed sins, indifference, selfish pride, a lack of concern for others, a desire to have things that are not good for us, our intention to use what God gives us for purposes that do not honor or please him, or praying for something which is contrary to the will of God.
We should not always conclude, however, that the reason some of our prayers are not answered in the way we desire is because of sin in our lives or because of wrong motives. At times God withholds things we desire because he knows what is best for us and he knows that his will for us is much better than anything we ourselves might desire or ask for. Read some of the following passages to gain a clearer and fuller understanding regarding what we call “unanswered” prayers: Deuteronomy 1:45; 1 Samuel 14:37; 1 Samuel 28:6; Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 1:28, 21:13; Zechariah 7:13; James 1:6-7; James 4:3. See also Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 3:26; 2 Samuel 12:16; Ezekiel 20:3; 2 Corinthians 12:8.

6. Is there any value in fasting along with our prayers?
Yes! Appropriate fasting can help us pray more sincerely and enable us to focus more consistently on the things we are praying about. When we fast, we may be able to get our minds off earthly things, focus on God’s mercy and grace, and take our praying more seriously. Fasting is not helpful, however, if it causes us to become less focused on our praying because of the weakness of our bodies or minds. Fasting is also inappropriate if we use it as a “bribe” of some kind or if we believe that we can merit something by our fasting. Fasting by itself does not merit anything! God’s answers to our prayers are always by grace—whether we fast or whether we don’t.
Fasting is relatively common in some Christian circles while almost totally absent in others. Both those who fast often and those who rarely or never fast should evaluate the reason why they do what they do. Those who presently do not fast might seriously ask why they do not do so and thoughtfully consider the possibility of doing so in the future.

7. What kinds of prayers seem to be offered most often: Prayers of Confession, Praise, Thanksgiving, or Request? How can we develop a good balance in our prayer life?
Many people consider prayer to be primarily “asking for something.” Though many people do add prayers of confession, praise and thanksgiving to both their private and public prayers, prayers of petition or request often seem to dominate. Perhaps this is somewhat understandable, but it is unfortunate if prayer is understood to be primarily a matter of placing our requests before God.
It is also important to make sure that our prayer requests do not focus primarily on material blessings for ourselves—especially if those requests go well beyond the things we really need. In the Lord’s Prayer there definitely is a strong emphasis on requests, but those requests include the opening petitions that God’s name be hallowed, that his kingdom come, and that his will be done. There is also a request for daily bread, but there is no request for lots of other material things. Another request is for forgiveness of sins and for the grace to be able to resist and overcome temptation. Finally there is the element of praise, as the prayer concludes with the words: Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. (Note: these last words are very familiar to many believers, but they are not found in many early copies of the Bible.)
Perhaps one of the best ways to make sure that we don’t focus too much on material things is by deliberately and thoughtfully including specific elements of praise and thanksgiving in our prayers. It may even be helpful to write out some things about which we should be praying, so that we do not neglect them.

8. What are the benefits of praying alone? What are the benefits of praying with others?
Praying alone can help us focus our thoughts and desires on the fact that we are talking directly with God himself. When praying alone, we will most likely include some of our very personal needs, our struggle with certain sins, and our thankfulness for the special blessings we have personally received or enjoyed—things we might not wish to verbalize when we are praying with others. And, while praying alone, we can pour out our hearts to the Lord without being concerned about the reactions of others to our tears, passion or exuberance. Praying with others can also be very beneficial, since others may pray about important matters which we have forgotten or not thought of. Others may also help us to focus on God and the things of his kingdom at a time when pressing personal concerns make it difficult for us to do so. And we can profit from the spiritual gifts and talents of others who seem to have the special gift of praying in a way that many others cannot do. It’s also often encouraging to be joined together with other members of the family of God as we bring our praise and thanksgiving to the One who is the source of all our blessings.

9. Is it desirable for us to share with others God’s answers to our prayers? Should we also share with others the times when God does not seem to answer our prayers?
The answer to both questions is YES. Others will often be encouraged when they hear how God has answered the prayers of fellow believers. It will not only lead them to give thanks to God for his answers to the prayers of others; it will also help them to anticipate God’s answers to their own prayers. And it will also encourage them to continue presenting their thanks and praise, as well as their petitions, to the Lord in fervent prayer.
But if believers will be encouraged to pray by God’s answers to the prayers of others, will they not be discouraged from praying if they hear about prayers that were not “answered”? Not necessarily. If people hear only about answered prayers, they might begin to wonder why some of their own prayers have not been answered. But if they hear that other people also have both answered and “unanswered” prayers, they may be encouraged to continue praying in faith and confidence—even if the Lord has good reasons not to answer some prayers in the way they desired.

10. Is the Lord’s Prayer more important or more sacred than other biblical prayers?
Not necessarily. The Lord’s Prayer is obviously of very great importance since it was taught by Jesus himself. However, prayers of enormous value are found throughout God’s Word. Most of the Psalms are prayers, and many other prayers appear in various parts of Scripture. It’s important to remember that the entire Bible has been inspired by God; no parts of the Bible are more sacred than others.
Even so, it’s highly desirable for all believers to memorize and pray the Lord’s Prayer, which is the only prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. Some people think that this prayer was intended to be a model prayer for us to follow without necessarily limiting our words to the brief prayer which Jesus taught. Jesus himself spent many hours in prayer when he was by himself, so it is very unlikely that he wanted us to pray this prayer over and over again without adding many thoughts and petitions of our own.
Sometimes it is good to speak the Lord’s Prayer to our Father using the exact words Jesus gave us. At other times the Lord’s Prayer can provide a valuable guide for more detailed praying. Each brief phrase can be expanded in more detail as we speak to God. We can pour out many heartfelt reasons why we love “our Father in heaven” and are glad to be his children. We can talk with our Father about particular areas in our life, family, church, community, and world in which we long for God’s name to be honored, his kingdom to come, and his will to be done. We can pray about various physical and financial needs associated with “our daily bread.” We can admit particular sins against God for which we ask the Lord to “forgive us our debts,” and we can talk to God about sins others have committed against us in order that he may help us to “forgive our debtors.” When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one,” we can be honest with God about temptations that we find especially hard to resist and tactics of Satan to which we feel most vulnerable and from which we most need deliverance. In short, the Lord’s Prayer can serve as a valuable outline for more extensive, detailed, personal prayers.