The ABCs Of Praying I: Basic Concepts

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If you are already advanced in the techniques of prayers, you may want to find a more advanced article to start with. But for beginners or those who would like to refresh their mind with the basics of praying, read on. In this article, we define what prayer is, what makes up a prayer, and how to pray effectively.

What Is Prayer:
Prayer is any talk that we have with God. Sometime, you are feeling good and just want to praise God. In this case, it is called a prayer of praise. If you are just thanking God for your joyous situation, that is called Thanksgiving Prayer. Sometimes you are asking God for things that you need. This is called supplication. And there are those times in which you are asking God to grant needs for other. This kind of prayer is called intercession. So, if you hear a Christian say I am an Intercessor, what he or she means is that he prays for others. In any of these cases, your prayer involves talking with God; expressing your needs and feelings to Him.

How Do We Pray?
One day, the Apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. What Jesus taught them is usually referred to as The Lord’s Prayer. Christians generally memorize and recite this prayer, but a careful study indicates that this is a general prayer that can serve as a model from which we can learn to pray. Here is the Lord’s prayer, and what it teaches us on how to pray:

The Model Prayer Called The Lord’s Prayer 

(Matt. 6:9-13 or Luke 11:2-4)
1. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
2. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
3. Give us this day our daily bread.
4. And forgive us our sins, As we forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
5. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
6. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

What We Can Learn From The Model Prayer
1. Always Start Your Prayer With Praise
Line 1 of the Lord’s prayer says: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name”, and it is the opening portion. First of all, “our Father in heaven” acknowledges that God is our Father, and being in heaven above, He is Higher than all on earth. Secondly, the word “hallowed” means “honored as holy”, or praised as holy. So, “hallowed be Your name” simply means, holy be Your name. Therefore, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name”, is an honor or praise to God for His superior Fatherhood, Highness and holiness. By this, Jesus is teaching us to always start our prayers with praise unto God.

Praise is any statement that acknowledges God’s greatness, glory, power, righteousness, holiness, truth, mercy, grace, compassion, faithfulness, etc. Examples: “Your faithfulness is very sure, and it has sustained me mightily.” or Let all glory and honor and blessings forever remain yours.”

2. Pray For God’s Will To Be Fulfilled:
Line 2 of the prayer says: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Both sentences speak of God’s will. When Jesus taught this prayer, the kingdom of God had not yet arrived on earth. But it did arrive as soon as He arose from the dead. So we are not to pray for the kingdom of God to arrive anymore. Rather, we are to pray for the other will of God to be fulfilled on earth as stated by the second sentence. At the center of this will are these:
i. All Christians should preach the gospel to all people so that no one should perish, but that all should hear the gospel, repent and be saved (Matthews 28, 2 Peter 3:9).
ii. Christ Jesus will return to earth to take Christians home to heaven and execute judgment and condemnation against all who refused to be saved. Jesus is hereby teaching us that in our prayers, we should pray for these events to be accomplished on earth. Here is where we pray for churches and ministries to be strengthened in God’s work. Here is where we pray for the Holy Spirit to help us do God’s work. And so on, and so forth.

3. Pray For Your Daily Needs And The Needs Of Others:
Line 3 of the prayer says: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The word bread is symbolic of food and other things that people need for daily sustenance. So, “Give us this day our daily bread.” teaches us to pray for our needs. So, pray here for the material and spiritual things that you want to ask God for.

You should also pray for the material and spiritual needs of others(intercession). Indeed you should pray for the needs of not only people, but of families, communities, nations and continents.

4. Pray For Forgiveness:
Line 4 of the prayer says: “And forgive us our sins, As we forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Jesus is teaching us here to pray the Father to forgive us not only of our sins, but also of our debts to God and even our debts to other people.

When we sin against God, we become indebted to Him. If we don’t give willingly to God, we also become indebted to Him. And if we owe money, material goods or favor to people, we likewise, become indebted to them. Whether, we owe to God or to a human, God will forgive us when we genuinely ask Him, and if we also forgive others who owe us. Jesus is teaching us to ask God to forgive us of not only our sins, but also money, material goods and favors that we owe to others and of which we are unable to pay.

We should also pray for the forgiveness of our fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ. For Jesus teaches elsewhere in the scriptures that we should pray for the forgiveness of fellow Christians (I John 5:16)

5. Pray For Protection Against Satan:
Line 5 of the prayer says: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Praying for protection against satan or the evil one is very important. That is because, satan is the biggest threat to your Christianity and the joy of it. He is a mean spirited being; full of evil powers and quite ready to hurt people whom he can get to fall for his temptation and as such sin against God.

Temptation is the means by which he gets people to sin against God, and he uses this sin to bind them and afflict them with many sufferings, and at times, causes some to loose their salvation. Temptation is tough to overcome, and so it is wise that we should not be tempted at all, and that is what Jesus is teaching here.

Being the humans that we are, times may come when we fall for satan’s temptations and give him a chance to hurt us. Because of this possibility, Jesus is also teaching us in line 5 to pray that God would deliver us from satan. Isn’t it very consoling to know that God has made such great provisions for us?

6. Close Your Prayers With A High Praise To God:
Line 6 of the prayer says: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Here Jesus is teaching us that we should always close our prayers with a high praise of God; extolling Him for His power over all things. For such power ensures that He is well able to grant our request.

What Order To Follow:
Although the Lord did not advise us on which prayer point comes first, or second or last, Let me suggest the following to you, based on my experience. As you become more experienced in prayers, you’ll be able to do it by yourself.
First Prayer Point: Praise God. Always start your prayers with praise.
Second Prayer Point: Pray for forgiveness.
Third Prayer Point: Pray God’s will.
Forth Prayer Point: Pray For Your Daily Need, And The Needs Of Others
Fifth Prayer Point: Pray for protection
Sixth Prayer Point: Praise God; extol Him for His power and glory.