Building a relationship with anyone takes two-way conversation. Most of us meet a friend face to face, although a lot of friendship interaction these days is done texting, at a distance. But it’s still a back and forth exchange of ideas. When Jesus walked the earth, He had this kind of relationship with His disciples. They’d walk down dusty roads, heading here or there, and converse, batting back and forth ideas about this or that.
Nothing has changed. If we want a relationship with Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit, we need to be talking to them and listening for their feedback. That’s called prayer. In Matthew 6, in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus outlines some guidelines for a fervent, effective prayer life. In verses 6-8, He instructs, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
The intimacy of our prayer life is described in these verses, don’t you think? Jesus wants us all to Himself, not distracted by others around us but closely involved with Him. He doesn’t want platitudes. He wants us to speak from our hearts for He already knows what is bothering us, or exciting us. He wants us to talk to Him about life, our worries, and our wonderings.
Then He goes on to teach us to recognize His Lordship. When we pray, we are to begin by verifying the fact that God is Holy. His will for our lives should be our first priority. Jesus said, in verses 9-10, “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” We must first recognize who is in control before we begin to present petitions.
Even though, we know that Jesus already knows what we need before we ask, He likes to be asked. So He further instructs us in verse 11: “Give us today the food we need.” By asking, we acknowledge that all good things come from God. He owns it all, and He is our provider.
Forgiveness has always been a large part of Jesus’ teaching. In prayer, we are instructed to seek God’s forgiveness but then we are reminded that we need to forgive others. Jesus’ words regarding forgiveness are recorded in Matthew 6 verse 12, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Verse 14 and 15 expands on this where He said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
God knows what kind of temptations we face daily. When He walked the earth, He was tempted but He did not give in. He wants us to seek His guidance and assistance in this area of our life so we will be victorious as He is victorious. Jesus adds, in this example of prayer from verse 13, that we should pray, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” God is our protector. We can walk victoriously in His strength.
Then we listen. We should sit quietly and reflect on His Word, as we wait for His voice to penetrate our understanding. But the words He already spoke and recorded in the Bible are His words directly to us as well. Listening means to adhere to those words. We’ve asked, now we need to reflect on the answers He’s already given and that still small voice that sometimes comes when we sit quietly and know that He is God. Two-Way conversation.
Bask in His love for you today as you reflect on His answers for your life. Walk confidently in His love, His provision, and His protection.
For further study: Study the Old Testament Prayer of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:5-12), of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1) and of Paul (Colossians 1:9-12), Jonah 2:1; Matt 6:7-13; Col 4:2; 1 Tim 2:8; 1 Tim 2:1-4