Jesus Christ was God in the flesh (John 1:14) and He knew the importance of praying to His heavenly Father. God in heaven is the ultimate source of success in every endeavor and, if Jesus Christ needed help from His heavenly Father, how much more do we!
When Christ’s disciples asked, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1) Jesus began His lesson in prayer by giving them a brief outline of some of the most important things to pray about on a daily basis. Commonly called the "Lord's prayer," Jesus' instruction is found in Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13.
The most frequent way we are to address God is as "our Father in heaven." There are many names and titles for God found in Scripture, but our most important relationship to God is that of an all-loving and perfect Father. Some inspiring and encouraging descriptions of God as our heavenly Father are found in Matthew 7:9-11; John 3:16-17; James 1:5, 17; 1 John 4:8-19; Psalm 103 and Luke 15:11-32, which is the parable which depicts the father of the prodigal son.
Sincerity and honesty are necessary prerequisites when we approach God in prayer. God can read our minds and praying nice words while thinking and doing contradictory things is not acceptable to God. We are warned that to "bless our God and Father, and [to] curse men," is hypocrisy (James 3:9-12, 17; Matthew 7:21-23). Developing a right relationship with our Father in heaven and our fellow man are the basis of our spiritual growth. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your fellow man (Matthew 22:35-40).
Prayer and Bible study go hand in hand, along with serious thought and introspection about how to apply God's teachings in our own lives. Ephesians 6:10-20 explains how we need spiritual armor "to stand against the wiles of the devil." Prayer and diligent Bible study are an important part of that armour (verses 18-19). Neglecting to rely on God in this evil and dangerous world is a big mistake.
God will not continue to answer prayers if we are unwilling to do our part—to read the Bible, obey what it says and learn to love God. Evidence we love God is defined for us in I John 5:3: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." Obedience to God is the most important condition for answered prayer: "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22).
We are also instructed to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. As human beings, we do not have the privilege of approaching God's throne with our prayers because of our own goodness. Jesus, our High Priest, intercedes with the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2). He assures us, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you" (John 16:23-24; and 14:13-14). We should also make sure that, besides going through our needs and wants, we take time to thank God for the many ways He has blessed us, and to also pray for others.
Jesus assures us: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7). Our prayers keep us connected to God as James assures us: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8).
The Good News Magazine