By Linda Tancs
What does it mean to pray?
Matthew 6:5-14 teaches the value of secret prayer from a humble and fervent heart. The passage makes clear that prayer is intended to give God all the glory. When we pray for the hearing and approval of others (Matthew 6:5), we deny ourselves Trinitarian communion. As Paul wrote in Galatians 1:10 (AMPC), “Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ.” Secret prayer, therefore, means keeping our personal prayer experiences private rather than displaying them to impress people. Private prayer should also be short and simple (Matthew 6:7) so that the energy of prayer is spent in releasing faith rather than in reciting lengthy passages. Short and simple prayers are clearer and more powerful.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13) illustrates the essential character of prayer as adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication. In adoration, the prayer teaches us to recognize God’s holy nature (hallowed be Your name). As a matter of contrition, we are taught that prayer is a confession of sin and repentance (forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors). To forgive does not mean to agree with the offender but rather to leave vindication to God so that our own sins may be forgiven by Him. We are to be thankful for God’s intercession (lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil) and boldly ask for our daily needs to be met (give us this day our daily bread). In this manner, we pray in a way that glorifies the kingdom rather than our individual wants or needs (for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever).
Think about your petitions (work, home, health, relationships) and how to frame them in accordance with prayer’s essential character.