For years I struggled with having a daily prayer habit. The whole thing just really intimidated me. What do I say? How do I stay focused? What would the Creator of the Universe possibly want to hear from me anyway? After learning about this guide and putting it into practice I now look forward to time spent praying instead of feeling guilty about time not spent praying.
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray and gave them a template to follow when praying. His disciples already had eternal life. The benefit of this lesson was for spiritual growth which leads to reward. Therefore, these verses are not about salvation, but discipleship.
Prayer should not be a holy show and tell. It should be quality time spent between you and your Heavenly Father. I’m a mother of small children so I can’t exactly go hide in my closet whenever I want. I tried...they found me. The time I choose to pray is key to keeping it ‘secret.’ I have found waking up before my children is well worth the loss of sleep. Let’s face it, I haven’t had a solid 8 hours of sleep in a looooong time, so what’s another half hour or so less? We find in verse 5 those who pray loud and proud already have their reward from those in earshot. But the Father rewards those that pray in stealth mode. What a huge bonus! He will actually reward us for talking to Him.
... when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."Matthew 6:7 NKJV
God is not impressed by the number of times we repeat a phrase or how long we can pray. Suppose my daughter told me she wanted to talk and then proceeded to repeat “Mom, I love you. Please can I have some macaroni for lunch? I’m sorry I broke your favorite mug.” ten times. I would not call that quality time and by the third repetition, I would probably start to get pretty annoyed. We have a relationship with our Heavenly Father and we grow closer to Him by being open with Him and speaking from our heart. Even when we don’t have the words, Just taking the time to intentionally ‘sit down’ with Him is so valuable.
...For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."Matthew 6:8
I am a graphic designer by trade, and I use/create templates often. If I am making a video that involves animation, such as the one you will find at the end of this post, I (legally) use a template someone else has made and just customize it to fit my project. Jesus gave us a template to follow when praying and we can simply customize it to fit our lives. Check out Matthew 6:9-13. Notice he did not say, "repeat after me." He said,
In this manner, therefore, pray..."Matthew 6:9
Praying is one of the best tools we have to maintain fellowship with the Father in Heaven. If you are skipping the “...forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors...” part of the template then you are damaging your opportunity for fellowship as we see in the verses immediately following Jesus’ model prayer. Remember He is speaking to His disciples. So, this is about discipleship, not salvation. If you have believed in Jesus for eternal life, you already have the forgiveness needed for salvation. Now you need forgiveness for discipleship/fellowship. We experience so much growth when we openly admit our sins to the Father and ask for his forgiveness. He knows what we need before we ask it. There is more to be gained than forgiveness when we ask for it. We experience fellowship with the Father and He will reward us for it.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”Matthew 6:14-15
How do you feel about praying? I hope if you have struggled as I have that you will try using Jesus’ template.
Daily Prayer Template Video