Principles On How to Pray
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his Courts with praise: be thankful onto him, and bless his Name.
When I was around seven years old my grandmother had prayer groups at her home and she would invite the neighbors over. Mostly elderly women. She would say, “Norman I want you to pray.” Not knowing how to pray, she told me to thank God for whatever I wanted to thank Him for. So I thanked God for the beautiful trees, green grass, the blue sky, the food we eat, etc. That was my first lesson on prayer and it was an important one. Thanksgiving and praise, are two things God wants to hear from His people.
Prayer Principles Jesus laid out in Matthew 6
First, we should ensure we have the right motives when we come in the presence of God. Not with the intention of receiving attention or praise from men. But to approach God in truth and in secret. God, who is unseen and who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Jesus makes it clear that if we come to the Father in prayer expecting praise from men our reward will come from men and NOT from God.
Secondly we should pray to the Father from our heart. Not like the pagans pray with many words. God already knows our hearts so pray in truth. Thirdly we must forgive others for their sins against us. If we fail at this our prayers are useless. God warns us to leave the altar and forgive our transgressions before returning to the altar.
Jesus gave examples of the manner and the pattern we are to pray in. Prayer principles if you like. I will add an example of how I might pray in the same pattern.
(Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be thy name). Father you are holy and awesome and I will praise your wonderful name.
(Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven). Father use me to do great things for your kingdom. I pray your will be done in my life to give you glory.
(Give us today our daily bread). Thank you Father for your word today. It fills my heart and gives me courage and peace.
(Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors). Father forgive me for the thoughts I had against my neighbor, search my heart and reveal to me anyone I have offended.
(Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from the evil one). Lord cover us with your mighty hand of protection and shield us from the flaming arrows of the Devil.
Pray without ceasing
The Apostle Paul tell us in Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” So we can see that we are to continually pray without ceasing.
You do not have because you do not ask
James 4:2 “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” This passage tells us we as God’s children need to ask for what we need. Luke 11:9-10 is similar. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Give Him no rest
This is an interesting passage of scripture. It mentions calling up on the Lord referring to Israel calling on God. And God tells them to give Him no rest until He (God), establishes Jerusalem. Isaiah 62:6-7 “I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence, And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth.” We are never to cease praying. God wants to be bothered by our prayers.
I heard Leonard Ravenhill say, “God doesn’t hear prayer. God hears desperate prayer.” I don’t know if that’s true but James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” That doesn’t sound like casual prayer.