In Luke 11, when one of Jesus’ disciples asked to be taught how to pray, He presented a guide to effective prayer that can still help us all today.
“When you pray, say:Our Father in heavenHallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.Your will be doneOn earth as it is in heaven.Give us day by day our daily bread.And forgive our sins,For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.And do not lead us into temptation,But deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:2-4, NKJV). Based on what Jesus’ model, here are some guiding principles:
Remember others when you pray.
As believers, or people who have a personal relationship with Jesus, when we come into the presence of God, our hearts are prepared for prayer with impact when we pause to acknowledge His love and acceptance of us through Christ as His very own sons and daughters. It is our privilege to call Him “Father.” If your own relationship with your father was a difficult or painful one, or if you have never known your biological father, you can ask Him to heal the pain and the sense of loss that can distort how you view God’s revelation of Himself as “Father.” Ask Him to reveal His love and care for you and to help you understand and appreciate the true essence of what being His child means.
And using the word “our” reminds us that we are part of a larger family, all of whom have needs we should remember as well. (Click here if you feel you do not yet have a personal relationship with Christ and would like to become a follower.)
Take time to praise God.
Praising Him as our Father also helps us to remember His power and His greatness—that ultimately, only He possesses the ability to meet all of our needs—and those of the people we pray for.
Pray for His kingdom to come.
God’s heartbeat is for the entire world to understand the purpose for which His Son came, and for each one to accept Him. One of the ways He wants us to partner with Him consistently in this task is through prayer.
Jesus’ final words to His disciples, as recorded in each of the gospels, instruct them to take the gospel into all the world.
Lives are transformed as people receive Christ, and burdens are lifted as each one seeks to serve and meet the needs of those around them. As you pray for His kingdom to come, you help pave the way for this to happen!
Pray with a willingness to accept His will.
One of the greatest gifts we can give back to God is our genuine trust. We are invited to come to Him with all of our needs, and on behalf of others, but our prayers are most powerful when we come to Him in humility and faith, trusting that He will do what is right and best in the circumstances we bring before Him. A trusting mindset helps us to sense His peace, and also opens the way for Him to communicate to us what He might want us to do as a part of the plan for His answer.
Pray for your daily needs.
Jesus encourages us to ask for help daily. Each day is a new gift, bringing unique joys, challenges and needs. God wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him, and to regularly remember that everything we need—including food, shelter, clothing, health, strength, and patience with various challenges—comes from Him. He again encourages us to remember others’ needs by His use of the term “our.”
Ask and offer forgiveness readily.
Prayer is most powerful when there is no interference in our communication channel with God. As believers, we live under God’s grace, but He asks us to remember to confess our sins to Him—whether conscious or inadvertent—on a regular basis. This regular confession should not be from a position of fear or condemnation, but from wanting to receive His cleansing and help to avoid repeating the same pattern, so we can be more like Him. He also gently reminds us that we are also to forgive others for the wrongs—deliberate or unintentional—that they may have done to us. If we don’t, we actually hinder His ability to forgive us (Matthew 6:14,15; Matthew 18:35).
Be alert to temptation.
Jesus wants us to be alert to those things or activities which can possibly hinder our relationship with God— before we begin to engage with or participate in them. We become powerful intercessors when we regularly ask for His help to recognize dangers, protect us from them and help us escape them before they overcome us. The Bible teaches us the ways we can also protect ourselves from our enemy’s tricks and traps (Ephesians 6:10-18).
These basic principles have been tested and proved golden for generations of believers.
God cares deeply about your needs, as well as the needs of others who may be on your heart and mind. We hope that you are encouraged in your prayer life, and that you will be awed by powerful answers to your requests and petitions to our Father for yourself, on behalf of your family and community, and for our world.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,According to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesusthroughout all generations, forever and ever!Amen.” —Ephesians 3:20,21, NIV