Introduction: How is your prayer life? If you are like me, your
answer is “inadequate and needs improvement.” When I walk in the
morning, I try to pray and look for God’s leading in writing this
lesson. However, my mind is like a squirrel constantly trying to dart
off onto other matters. If you think your prayer life could use
improvement, let’s race into our Bible study to see how we can
improve our conversations with God!

  1. Prayer Preparation

    1. Read Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:1. Who is speaking here?

      1. What principle of life is He telling us? (Work done
        for personal glory is not rewarded by God.)

      2. What kind of reward is being discussed here? (This
        cannot be salvation, for then our works would earn
        salvation. It must be some personal reward given by
        God here or in heaven.)

      3. In recent years I became friends with a great
        theologian who is incredibly humble. My motives are
        mixed whenever I preach and teach. Part of my motive
        to do my best is to have others think I’m very good,
        and part of my motive is to help people better
        understand the Bible. I asked this humble saint about
        this and he said he also had mixed motives. If this
        is true for you, what does this text mean? (Either
        you try to reward yourself or you have God’s reward.
        Which would you prefer?)

      4. What prayer principle do we learn here? (Prayer
        should not be about personal glory. It should not be
        about “tooting our own horn.”)

    2. Read Matthew 6:6. Why is closet prayer the best? (It
      avoids the problem of praying to be heard by others – and
      God rewards us.)

      1. Does this problem extend to other aspects of church
        service – that people are involved to be seen? (I’ve
        noticed that people who are making a prayer request
        in church, want to preach. People who have special
        music, want to preach. No matter what specific part
        of the church service, some want to turn it into a
        mini-sermon. Why is this? I suspect it has to do with
        personal glory.)

    1. Read Matthew 6:7-8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. On one
      hand we are told not to be babbling, and on the other hand
      we are told to “pray continually.” How do you reconcile
      these two ideas? (Right now I have a top prayer priority
      for a close relative. It is hard for me to avoid
      “babbling” (just repeating my prayer). One thing I’ve
      learned over the years is an attitude of prayer. To have
      one part of your mind in contact with God for His
      continual guidance.)

      1. Have you thought about prayer being like someone
        talking to you? Would you appreciate the other person
        repeating the same thing continually, like they had
        Alzheimer’s? (No! I’m sure God does not appreciate it

      2. If repetition is out, how do we let God know that
        something is really important to us? (We can just say
        that. At the same time, I think God understands when
        we want to repeatedly talk about something that is
        very important to us. However, we should not
        mindlessly repeat the same words.)

    2. Let’s look again at Matthew 6:8. If God already knows my
      needs (and I certainly believe this), then why do I need
      to pray at all? (This helps unlock the solution to the
      problems in our prior discussion. If prayer is not to
      alert God to things He already knows, then prayer must
      mostly be for our benefit. Babbling would not encourage
      us, but sharing our deepest concerns with God would
      encourage us.)

  1. Model Prayer

    1. Read Matthew 6:9. What, exactly, do you think Jesus means
      when He says this “is how you should pray?” Should we
      repeat this specific prayer?

      1. If we just recited this prayer, would we be
        mindlessly babbling?

      2. If you were teaching someone to pray, how would you
        do it? (We provide examples of things to help people
        learn. In my own prayer life, I consider each part of
        the Lord’s Prayer to be an example to teach us both
        the order and the topic of our prayers. Let’s explore
        this next in more detail.)

    2. Read Matthew 6:9 again. How should our prayers start? (The
      first thing is praise. I think every prayer should start
      with praise to God.)

      1. Why? Does God need compliments to grant our
        requests? (It turns our mind to the fact that our
        first priority in life is to give glory to God. It
        reminds us of the greatness of our God – who is also
        our Father! What a thought!)

    3. Read Matthew 6:10. What topic comes next in our prayers?
      (When Jesus comes again, God’s goal will be reached and
      sin, death and sickness will be gone. We want God’s will
      to be done in our life and in our world right now. This is
      where we can talk to God about our goals and our problems
      in life.)

    4. Read Matthew 6:11. What does God encourage us to pray
      about here? (Our needs! Give us what we need, Lord. It is
      great to pray for others, but God also encourages us to
      pray for our self.)

    5. Read Matthew 6:12. In your typical prayer, what topic do
      you discuss first? (My normal instinct is to pray for the
      forgiveness of my sins. Somehow I think that should be
      the first order of business before I get into anything

      1. Why do you think forgiveness of sins should come
        after praise, problems and needs? (Asking for
        forgiveness does not reflect God’s first priority for
        our prayer life.)

      2. Notice the qualifier on forgiveness. On what does the
        forgiveness of our sins rest? (Read Matthew 6:14-15:
        forgiving others.)

        1. Do you have someone you have not forgiven? If
          so, what do Jesus’ words suggest? (That God
          will not forgive your sins. This is a serious

        2. Do you have a forgiving attitude in general
          toward those who fail to meet your standards?

    6. Read Matthew 6:13 and James 1:13-15. Jesus asks God not to
      lead us into temptation, but James says that is
      impossible. Should we just cross out this part of the
      prayer because we don’t have to worry about God tempting

      1. Read Matthew 4:1. Here, Jesus is being led by the
        Holy Spirit into temptation. Is James just confused?

    7. Let’s read a couple of other texts that might help us.
      First, read Matthew 26:38-39. What is Jesus requesting
      here? (Jesus is moving into a time of terrible temptation.
      He naturally wants to avoid this. He prays that God will
      remove the temptation.)

    8. Second, read Job 1:9-12. What is God’s role in the
      temptations that follow in Job’s life? (God permitted

    9. Can you see common ground between James 1:13 and these
      other texts, especially Matthew 4:1? (In none of these
      texts do we see God tempting anyone. It is always Satan
      who does the tempting. I’ve long thought that in Matthew
      4:1 the Holy Spirit led Jesus to Satan before Satan was
      fully prepared. That first temptation does not seem to be
      the result of the kind of preparation that we saw in the
      Garden of Eden. Thus, temptation will come to all of us,
      and I think Jesus is asking that the temptation not be
      allowed to come to us when we are less able to handle it.
      Of course, what James says about temptation and our
      thought process should ring true to all of us.)

    10. Let’s look at the last part of Matthew 6:13. How does this
      fit into the discussion we just had about God controlling
      when we are tempted? (Jesus asks for victory over sin and
      over Satan.)

      1. What topic does this suggest for our prayers? (We
        should pray about our sin problem. We should ask for
        God’s help live holy lives.)

      2. In what other ways can we be delivered from Satan?
        (This is the place where I pray about my family,
        myself and the needs of others to be delivered from

    11. The New International Version of the Bible (the one we use
      here) does not contain the language “for yours is the
      kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” That
      is because none of the ancient manuscripts contain this
      language. It seems someone copying the Bible got carried
      away and added it. However, I like it so I end my prayers
      just like I started them — with praise to God.

    12. Friend, will you set aside some quiet time with the Lord’s
      Prayer (the prayer in Matthew 6) and use it as an example
      for your prayer to God?

  2. Next week: Discipling Children.