My husband, Juan, grew up in a small, rural country town in Mexico. As a child, he would attend the local church where the children were required to memorize prayers and Bible verses.
One of the many things he memorized was the Lord’s Prayer.
This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
Juan knew this prayer by heart. He could recall it at any moment, reciting it word for word. But, to him, it was just a block of text; he had no idea what it meant.
Years later, Juan’s life was being changed, and he wanted to become second. He desired to talk to God, but he didn’t know how. Ironically, he had the key to talking to God in the back of his brain.
Like Juan, you may be unsure how to approach God and talk to Him. The idea of talking to God might seem intimidating or awkward. But it doesn’t have to be.
The block of text known as the Lord’s Prayer was something Jesus shared with his friends who wanted to know how to talk to God. He guided them in a prayer that touched all the essential points for a meaningful conversation with God.
Jesus’ example of a prayer can be broken down into seven parts.
When Jesus talked to God, He called Him “Father” because that is who God is. God is a gentle, loving, forgiving, heavenly Father. Knowing that makes it easier to approach Him. You don’t have to address him like He’s some sort of unreachable monarch. You can have a personal relationship with Him.
Because God is kind and loving, He deserves to be praised. We all want to lift up the kind and loving people around us by praising them. God is infinitely more compassionate than those people, so why shouldn’t we praise Him?
God is kind, but He is also mighty and powerful. He has the authority to control everything in the world and so much more. He holds the future in His hands. You can show respect to His authority and power by acknowledging it and surrendering to His will for your life.
Yet God is not too big for you to ask Him for whatever you need. If you are heartbroken, you can go to Him for comfort. If you feel lost, you can go to Him for guidance. If you lack anything, you can humbly ask for it. When you focus on the Relationship, Worship, and Surrender parts of prayer before asking God for anything, your heart is more aligned with God’s will; you are, therefore, more likely to ask for something that God wants you to have rather than something He knows is not good for you. Like any good father, He can say, “No,” but only if He knows it’s for your best.
God is perfect, and we are not. Our selfish ways hurt Him every day. When you ask for His forgiveness earnestly, He compassionately forgives. But, as Jesus’s prayer points out, God forgives “debts” when we have forgiven our “debtors.” If there is any lingering hurt someone has caused, go forgive that person first.
Even after asking for forgiveness, the temptation to be selfish again is lurking around every corner. Because you can ask God for anything, you can also ask for the strength to resist temptation from things that would hurt you and others.
7. Worship again
Based on this prayer, it is evident how unimaginably good God is. Therefore, always return to praising him for His love, kindness, and mercy.
Several years ago, someone explained to Juan what the Lord’s Prayer meant, and it clicked for him. These words he had memorized as a child finally made sense. Juan now talks to God every day and even teaches others who don’t know how.
If you don’t know how to talk to God, you’re not alone. Jesus taught his friends, and you can use His example to start a conversation with a loving Father today.
Did you know? Today is also a National Day of Prayer. You can join the I Am Second Community as we pray for our world here.