How to Pray Effectively
The cart was so full you undoubtedly have everything you need. After you check out, load the car, unload the car, and put everything away, you suddenly realize you forgot something. What can you do to help you not forget? Whether it is the grocery store or the home improvement store, the best way to ensure you do not forget anything is to take a list.
How important is it to pray according to the Lord’s model prayer? Maybe you say, “I pray on my own just fine.” Just like forgetting the milk at the grocery store, sometimes we overlook essential requests in our prayer life which is why Christ provided the instruction on prayer.
Please understand, mindless chanting is not prayer. So saying the Lord’s Prayer from memory may not actualize the spiritual awareness of your needs. Prayer is a conversation with God. It should not be feared for we are His children (Romans 8:15ff). However, we are also His subjects and He the Sovereign dignitary, so in respect of His auspicious audience should we not humbly enter, boldly prepared to present our requests?
Luke records the Lord’s model prayer and in the same chapter, he unveils the need for such a prayer. First, Jesus affirms the Father’s delight in giving good gifts. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). It is His joy to dote upon His children, but the request is necessary. “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
Second, Luke illustrates our need to be aware of God’s kingdom work. Without the prayer, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth,” our minds are clouded with earthly wisdom and we will fail to see God’s program at work (Luke 11:2)! If the people had asked for such heavenly insight, would they have accused Christ of casting out devils by the power of Satan? Obviously, we need the divine perspective which is wisdom from above. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
Lastly, Luke illustrates our need for forgiveness and guidance. The Pharisees and the lawyers could not see their brokenness for their self-congratulating righteousness. We are told to come to the throne of grace boldly, but we still come acknowledging our brokenness. Our bold entrance is to request in the time of need mercy without reservation for it is mercy which broken people desperately need.
Do we need to model our prayers after the Lord’s Prayer? No, as long as you don’t mind leaving some blessing or provision behind while you are in the audience of the King of kings.