Prayer is an interesting thing, isn’t it? …And I imagine you’d agree. Prayer doesn’t always feel accessible, does it? Talking to an invisible God (if we’re being honest) just feels weird sometimes. You can feel His Presence…sometimes…but you can’t see Him.
And then there’s this thing about how to know if you’re doing it right or not? This is why a lot of people have a hard time praying out loud. There’s an embarrassment factor at play here. I mean, where does someone even go to learn how to talk to God?
And the good news is if you’ve ever wondered about that, you wouldn’t be the first. Even Jesus’ disciples felt a little clueless about how to pray…and they lived with Jesus.
There are two places in the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, where Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, what we’d call “The Lord’s Prayer”. Take a look at Luke 11:1. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.””
You can learn how to talk to God. Jesus’ words still apply to you today.
But before we talk dive into Jesus’ answer…before we study what it was that Jesus said we should say to God when we pray, you need to understand this:
How You View God Determines How You Talk To Him.
Now…God has several traits I want to talk about…but the one I want us to focus on is this: God is a Father.
The whole underpinning of Christianity is that God is a Father, and He loves to adopt spiritual orphans. But wait, it gets better.
Wouldn’t you agree that there’s a difference between a Father & a Dad? You can be someone’s biological Father, and then be completely disengaged from your children’s lives. Another man can step in, and actually be a “Dad”. I bet you know someone like this.
So it’s interesting, that the Apostle Paul says this, in Galatians 4: “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.””
That word, “Abba” (not the Swedish pop group from the 70’s), was an Aramaic word…which was the main language of Jesus’ day, was probably the first word that children would learn how to say…because it was so easy to say … “Abba”.
And do you know what it means? It means “Dad”.
You see, God is more than just a “Father”. He wants to be “Dad”. He wants to be a part of your life. He wants you to talk to Him.
Which is why when one of Jesus’ disciples said, “Jesus, teach us to pray”, Here’s how Jesus responded, in Matthew 6:9 (on your outline) Jesus: “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.””
Think about it: God has several attributes. Attributes like His Holiness, and Righteousness, and His Mercy & Grace, and Immutability…his Omnipotence, His Omnipresence and His Omniscience…
…And yet Jesus, who is teaching His disciples how to pray, says, when you talk to God, you address Him as Father…because that’s what He is. Your Heavenly Father.
The point is…God Wants Us To Pray To Him As A “Father”, So That We Will First Trust His Competency & Character, Before We Ask For Anything Else.
Brennan Manning tells the following story of an old man who was dying of cancer.
The man’s daughter had asked the local priest to come and pray with her father. When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said.
“No, who are you?”
“I’m the new associate at your parish,” the priest replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”
“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the priest shut the door.
“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At the Sunday Mass I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head…
“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with your Heavenly Father. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”
“So, Father, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the rectory.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that her daddy had died that afternoon.
“Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked.
“Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, Father. In fact, beyond strange—kinda weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”