Essentially, Christianity is the practice of trying to become more like Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s example of what a perfect human should be – dedicated to loving God and dedicated to serving others with the love that God provides. Of course, none of us will ever be perfect but our goal should be to get as close as possible each day. One of the most important aspects of Jesus’ life was prayer. Jesus was known to spend a lot of time in prayer; therefore, if we want to be like Jesus we also need to spend time in prayer. Fortunately, Jesus left us with some very clear teaching on exactly how to pray, so let’s take a closer look at his instruction.
The first thing Jesus taught about prayer is that we have to be sincere. Prayer is not intended to be a demonstration to others – showing off how close we are to God – prayer is supposed to be a personal conversation with God. There are, of course, times when praying in a group is appropriate, but ultimately the best expression of prayer is alone with God. Jesus clearly taught that praying in a manner designed to impress others that are watching is an empty and meaningless endeavor. Keep in mind, God already knows what we want and more importantly what we need. The goal of our prayer is not to inform God, but to acknowledge his awesome power and love, while demonstrating our faith and devotion to him.
In order to help us understand precisely how to pray, Jesus offered a sample prayer commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer,” (Matthew 6:9-13) that provides us with the essential elements of a proper prayer to God. Reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” just as it is presented in the Bible is totally acceptable, however, there is some evidence Jesus intended us to use this prayer as a guide from which we would write our own more personal prayer. The simple formula Jesus provides is that we are to start our prayer with our reverence for God the Father, we are to demonstrate our trust and faith in Him, and we are to make our request known to Him as we confirm our dependency on Him. When we compose our prayers in this manner, we are following the outline of the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Finally, immediately after his teaching on the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus reminded us that we should not only pray like him but we should also forgive others in the same way God has forgiven our misdeeds through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Ultimately, our total devotion to God is lived out by trying to be more like Jesus every day. We should worship the Father like Jesus. We are to trust God like Jesus. We are to pray like Jesus. And we are to forgive like Jesus. When we remain focused on these specific goals, we are aligning our lives with the instructions found in the “Lord’s Prayer.”