How to Pray

I. Introduction
A. Most Christians understand the need to pray
1. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
2. Most have heard many lessons on prayer or that mention
B. Furthermore, most Christians understand that they need to pray
more often, more fervently, and with greater devotion
C. But many have a stumbling-block: how should they pray?
1. What are the types of things for which we should pray?
2. How do we go about praying? How should we speak to God?
3. What kind of direction can we find for what and how to pray?
D. These are good and important questions for our consideration
E. Let us search the Scriptures and learn how we are to pray

II. Mechanics of Prayer
A. It is good to first quickly consider some "mechanics" of prayer
B. Address, Conclusion
1. Examples of prayer in Scripture are mostly directed toward
God the Father
2. Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6,
1 Peter 1:17
3. Some examples of praying to Christ as Lord
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9), yet He directs us to pray to the
Father (cf. Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2)
4. Conclusion of prayer normally indicates that the prayer is
done in the name of Jesus (cf. Colossians 3:17), and the
declaration of "amen," meaning, "so be it," seen in
1 Corinthians 14:16, Revelation 5:14, 7:12, etc.
C. Type of address
1. Many types of address exist on account of tradition
2. Many believe that God should be addressed with reverence, and
therefore, speak in antiquated or seemingly more formal
3. Others take the lead of Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6 and
believe that speaking with God should be extremely casual
(i.e., invoking God as "Daddy")
4. Examples from Scripture point in a middle path
a. No indication in Hebrew or Greek that the language of
prayer is fundamentally different from the language of
everyday conversation (filthy language clearly excluded--
Ephesians 5:4)
b. Indication that we can approach the throne of God with
boldness (Hebrews 4:16)
c. Yet recognition that God remains holy and worthy of
reverence (cf. Hebrews 12:28)-- overly casual language
therefore not preferable
D. Prayer, therefore, with proper address and conclusion, a
conversation with God, as a child talks respectfully with his
Father, or a servant his lord!

III. How to Pray
A. If we have ever wondered how we should pray, we should not feel
ashamed of the question
B. Luke 11:1
1. The disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray
2. Evidently John the Baptist provided similar instructions to
his disciples
3. Therefore, it is natural to want to know how best to petition
the Father
4. Also, cf. Romans 8:26-- we are not aware of all the things
for which we ought to petition God, and the Spirit assists
us in that
C. The "model"-- the "Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4)
1. Jesus then goes on (in Luke) to provide a model for prayer
2. A similar model presented as part of the "Sermon on the
Mount" in Matthew
3. Ritual use of prayer misguided-- such is not the intent!
4. Instead, the prayer is a model of the elements that often go
into prayer
5. Invocation: Our Father/Father
6. Declaration: "hallowed be Your name" (cf. Numbers 20:12,
John 12:28)-- recognizing that God's name is holy, and that
He must be reverenced
7. "Your Kingdom come"-- while it is here now
(cf. Colossians 1:13), we should still make requests on
behalf of the promotion and advancement of the Kingdom and
the sustenance of those who do that work
(cf. Matthew 9:38, 28:18-20, Romans 1:16, Colossians 4:3,
2 Thessalonians 3:1)
8. "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven"-- appeal that
we die to self, live to God, that His purposes will be
accomplished (cf. Matthew 26:39, Galatians 2:20)
9. "Give us this day our daily bread"-- request for sustenance,
that God will provide the necessities of life
(cf. Matthew 6:25-34)
10. "Forgive our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors"--
request for forgiveness of sin (1 John 1:9), predicated on
the recognition that we must forgive others if we will be
forgiven ourselves (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-35)
11. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"--
not that God actively tempts anyone (James 1:13), but an
appeal to be strengthened to avoid temptation and to stand
firm (cf. Ephesians 6:10-18, James 1:13-16)
12. Thus we can see that the "Lord's prayer" involves the types
of things for which we should pray, not necessarily the
exact words to pray
D. Thanksgiving
1. Another critical element of prayer is the giving of thanks
2. Tied to prayer in 1 Corinthians 14:14-17,
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
3. We have many reasons for giving thanks
a. Physical blessings-- the creation (Genesis 1-2), our
material wealth
b. Spiritual blessings-- all given in Christ (Ephesians 1:3),
Christ, the Word, salvation, the church, etc.
4. Thanksgiving critical for the right perspective
5. When we give thanks, we are humbled by our dependence on God
6. When we give thanks, we recognize how many good things we
have-- keeps the challenges of life in focus
E. New Testament Prayers
1. We can also learn from prayers offered in the New Testament
2. For clarity's sake, we will consider a few that are most
explicitly prayer
3. Romans 16:25-27
4. Ephesians 3:20-21
5. Hebrews 13:20-21
6. Jude 1:24-25
7. Many themes abound: appeal to God through Jesus Christ; all
glory and praise to Him; petitions for the strengthening,
encouraging, and equipping of brethren
8. These can help us better understand how to petition God in
prayer, recognizing the situation-- Apostles and their
associates writing to churches or Christians in an attempt to
encourage them
F. Situational Prayers
1. Much of what has been addressed are "general" prayers or
"daily" type prayers
2. But what about various situations that we encounter? How
shall we pray then?
3. We have seen situational prayers in terms of strengthening
Christians from the NT examples
4. There is a wealth of petitions in the Psalms that can be of
value in terms of situational prayers
5. Yes, Psalms were sung in Temple services, and can be sung
today (cf. Ephesians 5:19)
6. But the Psalms also serve as petitions to God-- thoughts
composed that could be used by others to present their
feelings toward God
7. Psalm 19: request for holiness, being kept from presumptuous
8. Psalm 20: petition for faith
9. Psalm 23
10. Psalm 25: petition for strength in time of difficulty from
enemies, distress
11. Psalm 30: request for restoration after presumption
12. Psalm 32: request for forgiveness
13. Psalm 38: request for healing
14. Many, many more could be cited!
15. One could use the words of the psalms themselves, in whole
or in part, or use them as a basis for meditation and for
one's own expressions to God
16. Nevertheless, there remains this wealth of resource for us
to use to make petitions to God in various circumstances!
G. Prayers for Others
1. As in all things, prayer not just about ourselves, our own
2. We have many others for whom we should pray
3. 1 Timothy 2:1-3: prayer for all men, authorities, so that we
can live in tranquility, for people to come to the knowledge
of the truth
4. James 5:16-18: praying for one another-- value of the prayer
of the righteous
5. As mentioned, prayer for taking Gospel out to the world,
those who do so (Matthew 9:38, Colossians 4:3,
2 Thessalonians 3:1)
6. The return of the Lord also features prominently in prayer
(1 Corinthians 16:22-- maranatha, "Our Lord, come";
2 Peter 3:11-12, Revelation 22:20)
H. As we can see, the Bible provides plenty of instruction
regarding how to pray, and provides insight regarding the types
of things for which we should pray!

IV. Conclusion
A. We have examined how we are to pray
B. We have seen some mechanics of prayer
C. We have explored Jesus' model prayer, prayer in the NT,
petitions based in the Psalms, and prayers for others
D. Let us pray without ceasing, always giving thanks to the

E. Invitation

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