Introduction: How is your prayer life? If you are like me, I’ve
struggled over the years with exactly how I should pray. These
days, I think that I am in some sense “in tune” with God during much
of the day. It is hard to describe, but it is looking for what God
has in mind as various situations arise. On the other hand, except
for my morning walk on the beach, I don’t spend a lot of time in
focused, formal prayer. Clearly, I’ve got a lot to learn and I’ll
bet you do too. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and examine
what Jesus teaches us about prayer!

  1. The Authorized Prayer?

    1. Read Luke 11:1. Why do you think this disciple was moved
      to ask Jesus for instruction on how to pray? (It was
      something about how he saw Jesus praying.)

    2. Read Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:9. When Jesus says, “When
      you pray,” or this “is how you should pray,” does He mean
      this is how we should say every prayer? (Perhaps, but I’m
      doubtful because I am certain God does not want us to say
      memorized prayers without thinking. Imagine if your
      friends memorized what they would say to you and repeated
      it every time they saw you. You would not like that.)

      1. If Jesus is not saying “use these words,” what is He
        saying? (At a minimum, Jesus is giving us a pattern
        for prayer. If we keep this pattern in mind,
        instead of just repeating it mindlessly, I think we
        are following Jesus’ instruction.)

  2. The Prayer Pattern

    1. Let’s explore the pattern of prayer that Jesus gives us.
      Read again Matthew 6:9. What does calling the God of the
      Universe “Father” suggest about prayer? (A normal
      father/child relationship is very close. The child knows
      that the Father loves and wants to help.)

      1. What does this suggest about the reasons for us
        going to God in prayer? (If you would go to your
        father or mother for help, then you should go to God
        for help. The idea is that God is there just like a
        godly parent would be there for us.)

      2. What is the first message that we should bring to
        God in our prayers? (That we want a Father/child
        relationship with our God, but we always remember
        that He is holy.)

      3. Why should we add God’s location? (This reaffirms
        that God is Lord over all.)

    2. Read Matthew 6:10. What should we tell God about our
      primary hope? (That the Kingdom of Heaven will come soon.
      We want to be closer to God.)

      1. In the meantime, what should we offer to do? (We
        will be part of God’s will being done (not just
        dreamed) here on earth.)

        1. What does that mean about your life? (You are
          praying that your life will reflect God’s
          Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.)

    3. Read Matthew 6:11. Notice the order of the prayer
      pattern. Praise to God who cares about us. A welcome to
      His coming kingdom, and a desire to live now like kingdom
      subjects. Next, we talk about our needs. Is that
      selfish? (This is such an encouraging verse. Jesus
      teaches us to ask for those things we need. This is not
      the last subject, it is one of the first subjects. That
      teaches us that God cares about our needs and wants to
      hear our requests.)

      1. Read James 4:2 and Luke 11:9. What additional wisdom
        do we find about praying for our needs?

    4. Read Matthew 6:12. When I was a kid, those teaching me
      religion would scare me by saying that I had to be good
      to have my prayers heard. If that is true, why does Jesus
      put confession here, as opposed to being the first thing
      in our prayer? (God wants us to confess our sins, but He
      wants to hear our praises, our plans and our needs

      1. How important is it for us not to hold grudges and
        hard hearts towards others? (It is essential. God’s
        forgiveness to us turns on our forgiveness towards

        1. Why are we held to God’s high standard of
          conduct? (Read Matthew 6:14-15. God died for
          us. He died in a very painful way because of
          our sins. Our sins against God are much greater
          than any other person’s sin against us. For an
          illustration of this, read Matthew 18:23-35.)

    5. Read Matthew 6:13. This is a puzzling verse. The first
      text that comes to mind is Matthew 4:1 where it records
      that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into temptation. What do
      you think it means to ask God not to “lead” us into
      temptation? ( James 1:13-14 tells us that God does not
      tempt anyone. It is Satan’s agents, our own evil desires,
      which tempt us. Jesus may mean “keep Satan’s agents from
      testing us.” Read Luke 22:42 for an example.)

      1. We cannot control Satan or God. What important
        practical lesson should we take from this portion of
        the Lord’s prayer? (We need to avoid temptation. We
        foolishly do things or say things that lead us and
        others into temptation and sin. This is a reminder
        to steer clear of those things which lead us into

    6. Look again at the last part of Matthew 6:13. Is our
      deliverance from evil linked to avoiding temptation?
      (Satan wants to hurt us. The whole point of temptation is
      to separate us from God and separate us from the good
      things in life. We want to avoid temptation so that we
      can avoid evil.)

      1. Why is this prayer about being delivered from evil
        last? When you consider your prayers, do you make
        it first?

        1. If you make your request to be delivered from
          some sort of evil first, is that a mistake? (I
          believe the order of Jesus’ prayer is
          important. Perhaps our highest goal is to live
          like citizens of the Kingdom of God even though
          we live in the midst of evil on earth.)

    7. The King James Version ends with a glorious tribute to
      God. Because this does not appear in the earliest copies
      of this prayer, it was added by some scribe who was
      inspired to add his own unauthorized tribute to God.
      Every one of us, after reading Jesus’ prayer, should feel
      the same way – that our Father’s Kingdom, power and glory
      is eternal!

  3. Prayer Attitudes

    1. Read Matthew 6:5. Have you ever seen someone who fits
      this description? I recall at one religious school
      graduation, the person giving the main prayer mentioned
      the oil production statistics of his country! At an
      earlier graduation, a parent giving the main prayer
      recited the history of his child growing up. Why does
      Jesus call these people hypocrites? (Because the prayer
      is about praising people, not God.)

      1. What is the effectiveness of such a prayer? (If you
        want to be seen, it is just fine. If you want God to
        be involved in your life, it is does not work. Your
        reward is simply being seen and heard.)

      2. We have a praise and prayer request time in our
        church. Some people take this time to give a mini-sermon for the rest of us. Are these people like the

    2. Read Matthew 6:6. What does this tell us about public
      prayer? (The most important prayer time is when we are
      alone with God.)

      1. Why do you think this is true? (We are not
        influenced by our consideration of those listening

      2. I hear of husbands and wives who pray together. What
        do you think about that?

    3. Read Matthew 6:7-8. Against what is Jesus warning us? (Do
      not mindlessly repeat the Lord’s prayer. Do not
      mindlessly repeat the prayers that you make every morning
      and evening. God wants your brain engaged. Pray like you
      are speaking to another person.)

      1. How should the fact that God already knows our needs
        impact our prayers? (Recall how Jesus started
        praying. He did not begin with His needs or suggest
        that we begin by confessing our sins. Asking God for
        stuff, is not the primary point of prayer. A
        relationship with God is the primary point of

      2. People tell me that we need to keep bringing our
        requests to God. Jesus says God already knows,
        don’t babble on. What does this suggest? (Read Luke
        18:7-8. We can hardly restrain ourselves from
        repeatedly crying out to God. I don’t think that is
        what Jesus is condemning. Heartfelt, fervent prayers
        will result in justice.)

    4. Friend, we can approach the God of the Universe with the
      same boldness as we approach our parents. How can you
      miss so great an opportunity?

  4. Next week: God as Artist.