Prayer Can Be Uncomfortable
When I was growing up, we often sat down at the dinner table to prepare to enjoy our final meal of the day. Smiles were exchanged and the rundown of everyone’s days played out as usual. When we were ready to pray for our day and our meal, I would notice how facial expressions and body language changed, and the silence became deafening. Why? Sometimes we become uncomfortable when it comes to prayer.
I realized that what may have been contributing to the discomfort surrounding prayer was simply not knowing how to define prayer, what it’s purpose is, and how we should approach the opportunity to communicate with our Creator.
How Do We Define Prayer & Its Purpose?
Based on the many types of prayer found in scripture we can reach a generalized definition/purpose of prayer. It is the highest exercise of our spiritual nature, seeking out union with God to supply the need with our greatest level of trust and in submission to his will.
Pray Like Jesus
What better way to alleviate the discomfort that stems from a lack of knowledge, than to turn to Matthew 6, where Jesus is gracious to provide us with the knowledge we seek in “The Lord’s Prayer”.
I’m sure many of us have been in that one setting where the scripture was recited word for word. The spiritual nourishment, guidance, and application in Jesus’ instruction on how to pray, goes deeper than the words. All things considered, we find the character of God and His nature when we seek the intent of Jesus’ instruction.
“In this manner, therefore pray” — The value and importance of prayer are emphasized in the fact that it came from Jesus and he was specific and intentional when giving instruction. When seeking what Jesus meant when He told us how to pray, we should always apply scripture to our lives and current situations. Discernment regarding the brevity of prayer should not focus on one example from Jesus, rather we find the answer when we focus on the “who” of Christ, not always the “do” of Christ. Even though “The Lord’s Prayer” is brief, there were times when Jesus prayed all night long. The message here is that prayer should be personal, intimate and relative to your current circumstances.
We find six petitions within “The Lord’s Prayer”. Three that speak to God’s holiness and His will, and three that speak to individual needs.
“Our Father in heaven” — When we pray we are entering into spiritual communication with God, therefore we should always acknowledge that. God is our Heavenly Father. When opening the lines of communication through prayer, we must not lose sight of God’s greatness and therefore always show respect for Him. He is the Creator of the universe and the very reason we exist. God loves us and we should reciprocate that love.
“Hallowed be your name” — Our highest concern in prayer and in our daily lives as followers of Christ is reflected in this statement. Nothing should come before our reverencing of God; our glorification of God; and the exaltation of God.
“Your kingdom come” — In prayer as well as in our daily lives, we should strive to not lose focus of the spiritual presence of God, now, as well as what lies ahead, regarding the kingdom of God. Our prayers should assert God’s power over the enemy to bring healing, saving, and righteousness, as well as an invitation to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us.
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” — There are power and peace in this instruction. Regardless of our specific prayers, the sincere desire of God’s will and purpose in our lives is paramount and provides the opportunity to grow in relationship with Him and to strengthen our faith in His promises.
“Give us this day our daily bread” — Although food is important every day, there’s a greater meaning to this instruction. When we pray, focusing on our daily needs spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally, opens us up to God’s purpose and design for our life.
“Forgive us our debts (or transgressions) as we forgive our debtors (transgressors)” — Asking God to forgive us of our sins displays a repentant heart and serves as a continuous reminder of just how graceful God is. Acknowledging our willingness to forgive others because Christ first forgave us adds to a heart of compassion and thankfulness.
“Lead us not into temptation” — Our prayers in this regard should focus on our absolute need for Christ and His power in order to not be drawn into the temptations we constantly face.
“But deliver us from the evil one” — As followers of Christ, we are the enemy of the enemy and for that reason, the weight in his mission to steal, kill and destroy should not be taken lightly. The enemy is crafty and uses our weaknesses and mistakes in attempts to derail our faith walk. Our prayers should call out to God seeking deliverance from any power Satan may hold in the knowledge of our brokenness.