In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray in a way that is pleasing to God. He cautions them against praying with meaningless repetition or for the purpose of impressing others or God. Instead, Jesus calls us to pray with sincerity, simplicity, and surrender to God’s will. In this episode, we’ll explore key principles from Jesus’ teaching on prayer that can transform our prayer lives.
The Problem with Empty Phrases
Jesus warns his followers not to “heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Here, Jesus highlights two potential problems with our prayers:
- Praying without meaning. Some prayers consist of familiar words or religious phrases that have lost their significance in our hearts. We rattle off memorized sentences without really connecting to their meaning in our hearts.
- Thinking our words will commend us to God. The Gentiles Jesus refers to pray with “many words” thinking that their many words will get Gods attention or Geet him to respond. They are trying to have a relationship with God by their words rather then truly knowing him.
God sees straight through these issues. He cares about the state of our hearts, not the eloquence or amount of our words. Long, complex prayers do not get His attention or gain His favor.
The Power of Simple, Sincere Prayers
After warning against empty phrases, Jesus presents a stunningly simple prayer as a model – what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. This beloved prayer contains less than 60 words in most English translations. Its straight-to-the-point petitions focus on God’s glory, God’s kingdom, and our daily needs.
Clearly, we don’t have to use lofty language or pray extensive prayers to connect with God. He wants us to come before Him sincerely and speak from our hearts. Our words can be few or many, elaborate or plain. What matters most is that we direct our prayers with humility, honesty, and faith to God who knows us and loves us.
Surrendering to God’s Will
Jesus models surrender to God’s will when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asks for the suffering of the cross to be removed if possible, but ultimately submits to God’s plan, saying “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Like Jesus, we sometimes struggle to reconcile our desires with God’s will. But we can pray through this by voicing our requests and then yielding to what God knows is best. He calls us to trust His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, even when we don’t understand His ways. As we surrender our will to God’s in prayer, He fills us with patience, confidence, and ultimately His peace.
What Should We Pray For?
Knowing what to pray can be challenging at times. We may wonder, “What should I be praying about?” Especially when it comes to praying for our marriages. Here are some helpful Biblical suggestions:
- Thank God for His blessings and grace (Philippians 4:6-7)
- Tell God how you’re feeling about a situation
- Pray for your spouse’s specific needs
- Pray for your children
- Ask God to meet urgent needs of others
- Pray for someone’s salvation
- Ask God to deepen your understanding of His love
- Seek God’s wisdom regarding decisions (James 1:5)
- Pray for pastors and church leaders (Colossians 4:3)
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list But hopefully will give you a place to start.
The State of Our Hearts
As we explore Jesus’ teaching and example of prayer, a key truth emerges: God cares more about the state of our hearts than the length or eloquence of our prayers. He wants us to come before Him as beloved children, sincerely and humbly, trusting Him fully whether or not He chooses to say “yes” to our requests.
May Jesus’ words move us to examine our prayer lives carefully. May the Holy Spirit ignite in us a passion to pray with purity of heart, simplicity of speech, and submission to God’s perfect will.
Please listen to this podcast episode to Get more insight into this.