“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV).
The Lord’s Prayer is a gift that Jesus gave his disciples, to teach them how to pray. Most Christians who attend church regularly have learned this prayer at some point, and for many it becomes a cornerstone in their prayer life. However, it is by far not the only answer to the question, “What does God say about prayer?” The Bible is rich in instructions on how to pray.
Prayer allows Christians to be in direct communion with their Lord and Creator. This in itself can sometimes feel like a daunting thought, and uncertainty about how God wants His children to pray can form a perceived barrier for those searching for ways to address the Almighty God. Thankfully, the Bible is a wealth of instructions about prayer. For those asking the question, “What does God say about prayer?” there are abundant answers:
- Approach God with confidence. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” The truth is that for all our tribulation, God wants us to come to Him. To those who believe in God’s name, He has given the right to be children of God. What parent does not welcome his children when they come to him? So pray confidently, knowing that God is delighted you are coming to him.
- Pray in all situations. Sometimes life feels very overwhelming. Sometimes everything in life just falls perfectly into place. Of all situations God says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). It can be easy to get caught in the day-to-day triumphs and worries, but a clear answer to “What does God say about prayer?” is that prayer is always the best response, no matter what happens.
- Pray for others. In his letter to Timothy, Paul says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). Research shows that people are predisposed to be affected by other peoples’ lives. God made us to live in community with each other. Christians are called to support each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is not possible for them to fix each other's problems. Instead, Christians should lift others up in prayer.
- Pray constantly. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This command can seem a bit impractical, but God hears all prayers, even if they are spoken only in the quiet of our hearts. It is also important to notice that the command to “pray continually” is lumped together with commands to “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances”. Prayer is a source of blessing for God’s children. In this verse God is telling Christians to be in constant communion with Him, and in the midst of all circumstances He will give them cause to rejoice and thank Him.
- Take time away to pray. Throughout the gospels Jesus leaves crowds of people and even the company of his disciples to spend time alone with His father. There is really no more perfect example for Christians to follow than that of Jesus. The world is a loud and busy place, full of distractions. Christians are commanded not to “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). By spending time alone with God, Christians are renewed and transformed through Him.
God wants His children to have the gift of communion and communication with Him, saying, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). The ability to speak directly to God is a gift that became available when Jesus died on the cross and the curtain in the temple separating the holy of holies from the area where the crowds worshipped was ripped in two. In that moment God made it possible for His children to approach Him directly. A rich prayer life brings Christians closer to God. Take hold of this gift today!
The Bible is full of answers to the question, “What does God say about Prayer?” Do you have a favorite verse that has helped you grow in your prayer life? Please share it in the comment section below.