We’ve been focusing on PRAYER the past few weeks, as you can see in these posts: How to Pray for Your New Normal and 3 Prayers You Can (and should) Pray! If you’ve missed them...I’d love for you to take a look and totally believe they’ll encourage you in your prayer life!
>> Today, we’re doing a deep dive into The Lord’s Prayer — the ever-popular scripture and prayer that many of us are familiar with! We’ll discover how and what to pray with the help of 6 prayer secrets found inside The Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus in Matthew 6! (We also cover this entire message on YouTube if you’d rather watch than read!)
Before we explore each of these insightful “secrets” to prayer, let’s first look at the Lord’s Prayer in its entirety. You’ll find the complete prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. This is from the good ole fashion King James Version bible, because, for a lot of us, that’s the version we know!
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
As familiar as that prayer may be, you may not have particularly noticed the very first words that Jesus said: “After this manner, pray…”
What’s so important about that? Well, so often we pray or sing this prayer simply from memory, as a rote prayer, and that’s ok…to a degree. But, the thing is, Jesus had something else in mind entirely when he told us about this prayer!
We’re going to walk through Christ’s exact intentions for the Lord’s prayer, but first you’ve gotta check out these quotes. They’re from a range of well-known Christians who were used by the Lord as either theologians or pastors — or their moms or dads. Most importantly, they were pray-ers. These are people that prayed. They prayed often and they prayed well.
“She seldom gave the Lord less than a full hour a day in prayer. She was the mother of 19 children. She would take her apron and pull it up over her head for her prayer time. Her children were instructed to never interrupt their mother while she was praying.” — Said of Susanna Wesley (mother of Charles and John Wesley)
“God does nothing but an answer to prayer.” — John Wesley (composer of famous hymns we still sing today)
“What the church needs today is not machinery, or better, not new organizations, or more or novel methods, but men and women who the Holy Spirit can use. Men and women mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through people of prayer.” — E.M. Bounds
“Heaven is full of answers to prayer, for which no one bothered to ask.” — Billy Graham
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelism in history.” — Andrew Murray
“I would rather teach 1 man to pray than 10 men to preach. Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence, to seek aid in a time of distress from a supernatural being is in the instinct of human nature. I believe in the truthfulness of this instinct.” — Charles Spurgeon
“A sinning man will stop praying. A praying man will stop sinning.” — Leonard Ravenhill (famous evangelist)
“Pastoring a church with millions of members and having an extensive international ministry, I’m not able to do all that I’ve been called to do without spending the minimum of one hour a day in prayer. If I were just to get up and begin my day, without spending the hours I spent in prayer, I would only have my natural resources to depend on. Yet having spent time in prayer, I can trust the unlimited resources at God’s disposal.” — Dr. Paul Young (founded and pastored the largest church in the world)
My hope for you (and for me!) is that these examples fire us up to go pray! That’s also exactly why I wrote my latest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer,” to give everyone the tools and understanding needed for an effective, joyful, powerful prayer life. Now that we not only see the need for prayer, but also the undeniable benefits of spending time praying, let’s figure out what to say when we pray!
Are you thinking to yourself, “Ok, I’m going to pray because I’m supposed to pray… but what do I say?” I get it! It’s understandable to feel like you’re getting tongue tied or that you’re running out of things to talk about. But if you’ll use The Lord’s Prayer as Jesus intended it, I’ll tell you what: You’re going to love your prayer life.
Remember when we highlighted those first few words of The Lord’s Prayer? The first portion of Matthew 6:9 says “After this manner, pray.” Here’s what’s interesting, though: this “manner” is intended to be an outline. God is telling us to use The Lord’s prayer as a template, an outline for our prayers. The six steps in the outline are essentially a table of contents for how we can pray in a personal, customized way!
Here’s the layout and 6 "secrets" you might not have seen before:
#1: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
#2: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
#3: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
#4: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
#5: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
#6: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.”
This method of utilizing The Lord’s Prayer as an outline to guide and dictate your prayers will add so much richness to your prayer life! It gives you structure without taking away the ability to flow and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. If you watch this video, you’ll find more detailed ways to pray within each of these 6 steps that truly align with God’s intentions and design for The Lord’s Prayer. While you’re learning and practicing praying in this way, feel free to print out the outline and pin it to your bathroom mirror or stick it on your fridge — somewhere you will see it often.
>> Your prayers matter!! They matter here on earth in the interim and they matter long-term as it pertains to eternity. The day is coming where we will stand before the Lord and we’re going to sing the song of His glory.
Before we wrap up this post, check out what Revelation 5:6-8 says about prayer:
“Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?’ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’
Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
Isn’t that the most amazing thing?! Your prayers not only affect things on Earth, but they make an impact in God’s kingdom, too. God loves our prayers!
If you’re unsure of what to say when you pray, follow the outline that Jesus gave us. Spend real time on each of the 6 prayer secrets from The Lord’s Prayer and let the Holy Spirit lead your thoughts, your words and your praises in a customized way each time! That’s the great thing about an outline...your prayers will be unique and special each time you pray as you follow the Holy Spirit’s leading!
If you want to learn more about effective, Spirit-led prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules” so that you see results for your benefit, for the benefit of others and for the glory of God’s kingdom!