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13. Learning how to pray

The Master's instructions about the Christian life. (Matthew 6:5-15).

One of the main keys to developing a good relationship with God is obviously to stay in communication with Him. Christian communication is two-way, God speaks to us through His word and His Spirit, and we speak to Him in our prayers.

Prayer is talking with God, and the person who seeks to walk with God must learn to talk to Him frequently. Good conversation is two-way, so don't forget to listen too!

In Matthew 6:5-15 our Lord Jesus tells us some of the secrets of prayer. We are to pray to please God and not to please men. We are to make

specific time to pray on our own. We should come to God as children

depending on our heavenly Father. We should pray with both our minds

and our hearts.

Verse 8 raises the question: ‘If God knows what you need, why should you

pray?’ The answer is quite simple. Praying shows that our faith is in God.

God delights in the secret, devotional prayer life of His people. Like a

human lover, He regards the time spent alone with us as precious. This

does not mean that it is wrong to pray in a public gathering. The New

Testament church did a great deal of that (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:24, etc).

However, a church prayer meeting will never be stronger than the

prayer life of the individuals who meet together.

In what is known as the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we are given the

following guidelines for prayer. True prayer involves:

1. An acknowledgement of Who God is in worship and wonder (v.9).

2. Absolute surrender, completely and confidently, to God’s will (v.10).

3. Asking in faith for practical immediate needs – things which serve

God’s purpose (v.11).

4. An admission of sin and a seeking of forgiveness in honesty and

humility (v.12).

5. An appraisal of current relationships with other people.

Repentance and reconciliation should mark Christians out from the

world (vv. 12, 14-15).

6. Aspiration after victorious Christian living, conquering sin through

consecration to the Saviour (v.13).

Remember, this applies to you. You can talk to God in absolute confidence

about anything. Your heavenly Father has an ongoing desire that you will

share your heart with Him. It is not that He is ignorant about people,

problems, pains or practical needs. He does know all about you.

Nevertheless, if you are to develop a strong, living relationship with Him

then you must learn to share everything with Him. As you do so, He will

share all of His blessing with you.

There is plenty of encouragement to pray throughout the Bible. Many of

the Psalms are prayers recorded by men whose experience of God may

help us in expressing our inner feelings to Him. For example Psalm 38 can

be called the Psalm for the broken man. It speaks of overwhelming guilt,

and burdens too heavy to bear. Psalm 40 may in turn be called the Psalm

for the blessed man because it speaks of the praise of God, the plan of

God and the proclamation of God’s greatness. Do not be afraid to use the

Psalms as part of your prayers to God.

Our Lord Jesus made prayer His early morning custom. He often

withdrew from His busy life to be alone with His Father. If you can share

His desire to pray, show His discipline in making time for prayer and

secure the determination to pray at all times, then your relationship with

God will grow deeper and deeper. The day begun with prayer is the day

for which you are prepared.

Other scriptures to read: Ephesians 6:18-20; Philippians 4:6; James 5:13-18.

Discussion guide on ‘Learning to Pray’

Reading Matthew 6:5-15.

1. In what ways do you think prayer is similar to conversations with

another human friend? In what ways could it be different?

2. From verses 5-7 list some good practices and some bad practices in

prayer. Share why you think these are good or bad.

3. Verse 8 says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask

Him”. So why do we pray?

4. Explain what could be the differences between public prayer at a

church gathering and private prayer on your own with God. Consider

Acts 1:14; 1:24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:24; 6:6; 8:15; 8:24; 9:11; 9:40; 10:2,4,9;

10:30-31; 11:5; 12:5,12; 13:3; 14:23; 16:13,16,25; etc.

5. From the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:9-13, (see also Luke 11:1-4),

what can we include in our prayers? Is there a proper way to start,

before bringing our needs to God? Why do you think this is?

6. From James 5:13-18 can you find at least five ways we are

encouraged to pray?

7. Reviewing all we have learned about prayer, what does

Philippians 4:6 say is the answer to daily worry and care? Why not try and

memorise this verse! Test each other and see who knows it off by heart!


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