If there is one thing we learn from the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11:1, it is that the best ways to think about prayer is to view it as simply having a conversation with God.
If you can talk to a spouse, coworker, friend, or neighbor, they can talk to God in prayer. No special training or vocabulary is needed. No special posture and location are necessary.
Whatever you would talk to a friend about, you can talk to God about. Wherever you might speak to a friend, you can speak to God.
You do not need to be gathered together with others, though sometimes that is helpful for the sake of the conversation. You do not have to be in a certain building or room, though sometimes, that is helpful so you can focus on what is being said.
Even still, some people are uncertain of what to say when they pray, since having a conversation with God seems different than having a conversation with a friend. So it is helpful to give people some ideas of the sorts of things that can be said in conversation with God. In the next few posts, we will look at four places in Scripture some people find helpful as they learn to converse with God.
The Disciples’ Prayer
The passage that many people think of as The Lord’s Prayer might better be called “The Disciples’ Prayer.”
Near the middle of the three years of Jesus’ ministry, His disciples noticed that He spent a lot of time in prayer, and they came to Jesus, asking Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1).
They did not ask this because they did not know how to pray, for the Jewish people had many daily and weekly times of prayer. But most of these prayers were memorized and recited, and were formal, ceremonial prayers for particular events and holidays.
The disciples must have noticed that Jesus prayed differently. He seemed to talk with God as a man talks to a friend, or a Father. For Jesus, prayer was natural and normal, and the disciples wanted to pray this way as well.
So Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:2-4; Matt 6:9-13).
He lists several things to say to God, and several types of prayer requests. But despite how many use this prayer today as something that should be recited on a regular basis, I don’t think Jesus was telling His disciples exactly what they should pray, but was giving them examples of the sorts of things they could pray for. He wasn’t giving them exact words to pray for, but was giving them broad themes and ideas.
And what are these themes and ideas?
They include giving praise and glory to God, and requests for the rule and reign of God to expand on earth, that God provide for our daily needs, and that He would forgive us for the ways we have failed to keep His will, and protect us from further failures. These are basic requests, and can be prominent themes of any person’s prayer life.
When you pray, you can pray similarly. Don’t worry too much about what you are saying or how to say it. Just talk to God the way you would talk to anyone else about whatever is on your heart and mind. That’s how Jesus prayed, and how He taught us to pray as well!