Guidance in Prayer
Using the Lord’s Prayer as a springboard for our own
This article takes a look at the prayer Jesus gave us, using it as a model to inspire our own prayers. It gives practical steps for its two parts: encountering God as he is and bringing our needs to him. A helpful introduction for those who are new to prayer or those discipling others.
Leader, Navigators UK
Currently Leads the work in the UK and travels into Latvia. Yet, key role is one of prayer and standing with God. Married to Eva, have 4 children who have mostly left home.
Guidance in Prayer
Prayer is key to our engaging with God. It is something that happens at many levels and is developed over a lifetime. At its simplest it is talking with God, at its most profound it is worked out in silence. Through it our heart, mind and soul are united with Christ.
Start in Prayer
When Jesus was asked by his disciples to teach them to pray he gave them what has become known as the Lord’s prayer. This is not only a prayer in of itself, it is also a model for prayer where each phrase can be used as a prompt to develop your own prayer.
Start off with the words as they are. As you become more comfortable then you can develop the it.
Have a look at the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):
Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. 
Here are some questions to consider:
- Who are you praying to?
- How does that influence the rest of how you approach God?
- What range of needs are presented?
- Do you feel comfortable asking for these?
Meet God in Prayer
Prayer is our communication channel with God. While many people learn prayer through telling God their needs, a more mature place of prayer is to meet God in order to develop a relationship with him. Luke 11:2-4 demonstrates this principle:
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.”
There are two parts to the Lord’s prayer. The first half is concerned with meeting God. Here are some questions to reflect on:
- Who do we pray to?
- How do you approach one who is intimate – Father – and distant – Holy?
- How do we pray for God’s kingdom (as against our own)?
Ask for needs
Prayer is a language in which we meet with God. When a child learns to speak, she starts with requests and is driven not by any intense desire to meet with her parents, but a sense of need. In the same way, we learn to pray to God mostly out of need. It is only as we grow spiritually that prayer is focused on our relationship with our Father.
Take a look at the way Jesus expressed this in Luke 11:3-4:
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.
The second half of the Lord’s prayer focuses on praying out of need. Some questions to consider for Luke 11:
- What rhythm of prayer is implicit in this prayer of Jesus?
- What needs are presented in this prayer?
- Why would asking for forgiveness be conditional on forgiving others?
- An aspect of prayer that is often forgotten is that of spiritual protection.
Attitude in Prayer
In prayer, God’s children go to their heavenly Father. Our attitude in prayer shows who we really think we are and who God is. We can be doing all the right things and saying all the right words, but if our attitudes are out of place, then the Lord in his love might respond in unexpected ways!
Look at the attitudes at play in Luke 17:12-19:
As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
Some questions to consider for Luke 17:
- What need did the lepers have?
- What attitudes and actions are seen in the man whom Jesus affirmed?
Keys to answered prayer
Why are some prayers answered and others not? Why are the prayers of some answered immediately, while the prayers of others seem ignored? The Lord is king over all, so our assessment of whether a task is difficult to achieve, or not, has no bearing on whether God can do it. The keys to answered prayer are not about how possible it is for God to act, but whether we are engaging with God in His will.
John 15:7 puts it like this:
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
Some questions to consider for John 15:
- What does it mean to remain in Jesus?
- What can be asked by those who do remain in Jesus?
We live in a materialistic world that denies the existence of anything that cannot be observed physically. Jesus teaches of a spiritual realm and spent much time dealing with the unseen agents of that realm. We live in that same world and can be hindered in life if we are not equipped to deal with the enemy.
Ephesians 6:10-13 explains it in this way:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Here are some questions for Ephesians 6:
- What are we to be aware of in the spiritual realm?
- What are we to do to meet this challenge?
Copyright © Derek Leaf 2017
 Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Turner House, 54 The Avenue, Southampton, SO17 1XQ