Game plan for prayer

June 3, 2024
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by Shannon Caughey

Many of us struggle with prayer. We know prayer is important, but we don’t pray as much as we need to pray or we’d like to pray. Sometimes the issue is a lack of intentionality and discipline. We fail to make time or put forth the energy required to pray—just as anything of genuine importance takes time and energy. 

But another issue can compound this: When we do try to pray, we’re unsure how exactly to go about praying. Maybe we feel like the athlete who recognizes the need to acquire a new skill, but they don’t know exactly how to do this. They need someone who understands this skill to give them a game plan for learning it. The athlete then has the confidence that if they follow the game plan, they will grow in the skill.

Jesus knows that sometimes his followers struggle with prayer. Because he loves us, he wants us to experience the transformation, fulfillment, and joy that comes when conversation with God is a consistent part of our life. Jesus also understands that we may be unsure how to pray. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus instructs his followers on how to pray:

9 This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven,

        hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

        but deliver us from the evil one.”

Often called the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives us a framework for prayer. The intent of his teaching is not that we have to use these exact words each time we pray. Matthew 6:9-13 is not a magic prayer formula or mantra that if we repeat enough times, God will grant us our hoped-for answers. Rather, Jesus is pointing us to important areas that should consistently be part of how we pray. He provides us a game plan for prayer. 

As we understand and apply the framework Jesus gives, we’ll grow in prayer in multiple ways. We’ll pray with a greater God-focus rather than just being self-focused. The posture of our heart will be one of both deeper dependence upon God and deeper confidence in him. We’ll be more aware of issues in our life that God desires to address. We’ll seek God’s guidance and empowering with greater consistency.

In this passage, Jesus is not attempting to offer an exhaustive list of everything that can be a regular part of how we pray. However, Jesus directs us to foundational elements of a framework for prayer. In the coming devotions, we will look more closely at each of these elements with the goal of growing in prayer.

If you’ve struggled with prayer, Coach, know that you are not alone! In his love and grace, Jesus provides a game plan for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Make it your goal to understand and apply this game plan. May you experience the transformation, fulfillment, and joy that comes when conversation with God is a consistent part of your daily life.

For reflection: Give thanks to Jesus that he teaches us how to pray. Ask him to help you grow in prayer in the coming days and weeks.



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