This Is How We Should Pray
Most people wait until they're in a bad emergency. Then they'll get on their knees and start crying for God's help. And they'll start saying things like "if you only help me this one time, I promise I will..." Sound familiar? Most only pray to God when they need Him. Then when they get no help, they start complaining: "I thought I was born-again!" or "I thought I was praying the rosary daily", which is praying to Mary mainly.
The proper way to pray is to start with the Lord's Prayer, which is the prayer Jesus taught us. By forgiving your sins, this prayer opens up the communication channel with God. Then afterwards you can ask for your needs. And He will answer.
The Lord's prayer from the Bible:
Jesus said: This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father who are in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Note1: The "Bread" in this prayer is not our earthly needs. It is the spiritual Bread of life that God gives, for the forgiveness of sins. The word "Bread" here represents Jesus' substitutionary suffering and death on our behalf in order to make us righteous in the eyes of God. And God for His personal reasons, chose to give this Bread daily, not "once and for all". So we are "renewed day by day" as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:16.
Note2: Must forgive others - If we don't forgive others, we remain in our sins! Jesus stressed this point many times and had a dedicated parable about it in . Even if we have any hint of grudge or hate against anyone, God will not forgive us. Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they trespass against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, your Father will not forgive your sins. Who is forgiving others today? And who therefore is receiving the Holy Spirit?!
Note3: This has nothing to do with the Catholic Eucharist. The Catholic church, confused people about this subject, monopolized the Bread of life, calling it a fancy name, "the Eucharist" that only their priests and bishops can give you on Sundays. But this is unbiblical; their only objective is to boost donations. Jesus gives you this spiritual Bread of life daily in His prayer. You don't have to chew on any physical bread in church. And I'm sure the church theologians knew this, but cleverly ignored it, because it's a DIY version of the Eucharist.
Jesus started by saying these exact words: Matthew 6:9 "this is how you should pray..." Some say, "this means He gave us the proper form of praying. So as long as we follow His flow, we can use our own words." But they are dead wrong! They are wrong because they are basing their explanation on the "bread" = "earthly needs". But it is not our earthly needs, and it is not both our earthly needs and spiritual needs. It is only the "Bread of life" that God gives for the forgiveness! Read the Bible again and look at all the biblical references in my page The Lord's Prayer is Severely Misunderstood. Therefore, Jesus' words in that prayer are sacred. They are perfect in every way. If we put our human touch on this prayer, we would certainly destroy it!
We don't use God only when we need something. We pray daily as He commanded, whether in good times or bad. And we worship God, meaning seek Him in the scriptures, love Him, and humble ourselves by getting on our knees in private when we pray to God. First, we should pray the prayer Jesus taught us, because He used this term "should". If He said "should" and I believe in Him, then I'm doing what He said. Then afterwards you can follow with your own wording.
Christianity is not "be creative" and "anything goes"!! You need to follow Jesus' commands first! The top two are simple:
Pray the Lord's Prayer daily and mean it correctly.
Mature spiritually by seeking God in the whole Bible including the parts contradicting to your church's theology!!
If not doing this, then all your noise, all your hymns and loud music, and all your hand waving are worthless!! He did not say to do any of this!
You're running Christianity your way, not God's way!
Why Did Jesus Command Us to Pray This Prayer Daily?
Those of us who know the God of the Bible, know that He would never give us a blanket forgiveness for life! It is clearly explained in many parts of the Bible, Old and New testaments - we are renewed day by day. And praying the Lord's Prayer daily means God hears from us daily; He wants this relationship with us on a daily-basis, as evident throughout the scripture. Example, God's daily walk in the garden to talk to Adam & Eve, God's commandments to the Jewish people of daily sacrifices for forgiveness of sins, the manna in the desert that couldn't be hoarded more than one day, and the Lord's Prayer specifically saying "give us this day our daily bread" and forgive us our sins.
Yes Jesus paid the price "once and for all", which meant no other sacrifices needed. But the frequency of asking God for forgiveness is still DAILY. It has not changed!
When we pray the Lord's Prayer daily as Jesus commanded, then and only then our sins become always forgiven. And then we become righteous in the eyes of God. Which will result in receiving the Holy Spirit and His blessings pouring out on us!
The forgiveness of sins has been a daily requirement for God throughout history. Example, the Jews were required by law to present daily sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins. And they ate the sacrifice or offering to ensure forgiveness as God commanded (see my page on Christianity & Judaism - A Parallel for more eye-opening details on this). And now for Christians, no more sacrifices, but we too eat the spiritual Bread of life daily, representing Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, for the forgiveness of our sins as Jesus commanded!
God accomplishes 2 objectives when we pray the Lord's prayer daily:
1. We properly worship Him, daily.
2. We receive His Bread of Life, for the forgiveness of sins, daily as He requires for our righteousness.
He wants a loving relationship with us. The daily need for forgiveness of sins has always been God's command in both the old and the new testaments. But most people missed this in the new-covenant, calling it "not needed because Jesus paid for it on the cross", which is incorrect.
God loved us so much that He gave us the smallest daily spiritual requirement - just pray this prayer in your heart daily! Jesus' prayer is very clear. He gave the specific wording of it in two Gospels, Matthew and Luke. And yet so many people are ignoring it! And instead, are going with their own plans of all kinds of other prayers, to Mary, to other humans, to angels, to their ancestors' spirits, to the pope, etc., or not praying at all "because it's 'works'"! I assure you it is all very depressing to God, as evident in God's personality throughout the Bible. Jesus alluded to a similar frustration here:
"I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?"
Here's why not many pray the Lord's Prayer:
Many Protestants preach that "Jesus' teaching was for the Jews, and Paul's for the Gentiles." And that Paul did not teach to pray the Lord's Prayer. A huge misinterpretation of the Bible. See my notes on this here: Why didn't Paul Preach the Lord's Prayer?
We all know that the Lord's Prayer is recited in Catholic sermons (even though they don't mean it correctly). I think Protestant churches don't say it because they oppose Catholics. In the same way that Catholic people don't read the Bible, because Protestants do. And where is God in this picture?
Catholics pray it as part of the rosary! One Our Father (with bread = earthly bread) for every 5 hail Mary's!!!
Calvinists don't pray the Lord's Prayer because "it will not change God's plan - God already decided; we have no say"!!!
Most people are well provided for these days. And therefore, feel they don’t need to bother God anymore by asking for the daily bread (implying earthly necessities).
Do you see the sad state all Christians are in right now? They'll pray to anyone and anything, EXCEPT to God. And some are not praying at all because it's "works"! So many are spiritually lost and missing out on God's blessings! No wonder there is no peace on earth!
Do Not Pray to Humans
There are many so called "christians" today, praying to humans! Praying to some favorite saint, or to the Blessed Mary. Calling them "mediators" between us and God. But the Bible says differently:
1 Timothy 2:5
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”
There are millions of so called "christians" out there, who've missed God's redemption plan altogether, and took off with their own plan. Again here, people will be people. No wonder God called them "stiff-necked" and "I never knew you", and in the book of Timothy:
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
And don't pray to Mary after praying to God, thinking to yourself "it doesn't hurt, she's His mother anyway". She's not His mother! It is blasphemy; God will reject your prayers altogether. See my link on Mary the Mother of God?
So how should we pray?
After praying the Lord's Prayer, then of course you can add to it your own words and requests. The Lord's Prayer is proper-protocol to start the communication with God and become filled with the Holy Spirit. Then you can follow it with your requests of "... I need a job, I need a car, I need a husband, my child is sick, please heal my mom, etc.." But if you faithfully pray the Lord's Prayer daily, you'll notice that your other earthly needs will become fulfilled before you even ask for them! Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you." Matthew 6:33.
The Proper Relationship With God
Let's make sure we understand what this relationship with God is. He is our God and we are His children, not to be mistaken with we're friends. So worship God with the respect He deserves, not "...He knows me; I've been talking to Him; I tell Him what I need, we're cool." Learning the proper way, is part of the spiritual growing that God expects of us.
Throughout history there was always a proper protocol for approaching God. And no, Jesus' death on the cross did not mean anything goes. Yes, He opened the channels for us to speak directly to God but must be in the proper way. Examples of historical communications with God, Moses had to remove his sandals when at the burning bush. The Jewish people when Moses was talking to God, had to stay a distance away from the foot of the mountain. And in the Jewish law only the high priest could enter the inner room the Holy place with God's presence, and only after executing a long list of precise requirements. If anyone else enters the inner room, he dies instantly.
Today the death of Jesus on the cross did away with much of this and gave us direct access to speak to God. But this does not mean that God is now your bestie. There is still a proper protocol to approaching God. Jesus' prayer showed us exactly how to do it. And note, God will hear you better if you pray this prayer on your knees in private. Our invisible God is alive; He sees you when you kneel during prayers. And no, it's not "works"! It is a loving gesture of worship and humbling ourselves before Him. "Kneeling" was mentioned hundreds of times in the Old Testament about the Jews "bending their knees" to other gods, which angered God tremendously. This teaches us about God's personality, for example how much the act of "kneeling" means to Him; it is the perfect gesture for worshiping.
The Lord's Prayer is at the center of God's redemption plan through Jesus. It is the final and simplest covenant spiritual-obligation outcome of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as compared to the previous old-covenant of hundreds of ceremonial commandments required daily to accomplish the same.
Don't Pray when on the Toilet
Don't be shocked. If it is stated in the Bible, it's God's view. Here is what God said to the Israelites in the days of Moses when He was present among them in their camp in the desert:
“Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.”
If you only have time to pray when you're on the toilet, then God must be very low on your priority list. God is alive, and when we establish a communication channel with Him, by praying the Lord's Prayer, we become standing in His presence. Sitting on the toilet is disrespectful. On your knees in a private room should be the proper form.
The Bronze Snake - A Parallel
Throughout history Humans have proven that they are incapable of worshiping an invisible God. But have shown time and time again that they are very good at worshipping humans and physical things they can see. Here is an example from the Old Testament. Moses had made a bronze snake as instructed by God for a specific short time in order to end a penalty God had inflicted on people at the time. But people decided to continue worshiping the snake forever!
Numbers 21:4-9 [The Jewish people in the desert with Moses]
But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
2Kings 18:3-4 [King Hezekiah, a few hundred years after King David, and many hundred years after Moses]
"He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it."
Moses pointed them to God, but the people preferred to continue worshipping and praying to the bronze snake statues. A perfect parallel story to today's people praying to anybody and anything, but God.
What Does "Believe in Jesus" Really Mean?
The Lord's Prayer Is Severely Misunderstood
Christianity & Judaism - A Parallel
True Christians Can Perform Miracles
Why didn't Paul Preach the Lord's Prayer?