Does prayer really work?
Many, if not all of us, have asked this question at some point, in spite of our religious background. We have almost all prayed either because we acknowledged we needed help, we prayed for a sick loved one, we were lonely, or maybe we were just pondering the meaning and source of life. Because we have all prayed, we have also asked questions like:
- Why does it seem like some people's prayers "work" more ofter or "better" than others?
- What does a prayer "working" even mean?
- Is anyone even listening?
- What is the purpose anyhow?
In Matthew 6:5-13, Jesus is teaching those around Him how to pray. What is very interesting is the structure, order, and purpose of His prayers, and how these areas contrast with how we pray. He also gives us some helpful tips on how not to pray.
The structure we are going to use is:
- Declare God's greatness (verse 9) - This part of praying that we normally quickly go through, Jesus emphasizes that when we pray we should pause to think about who we're talking to. We should think about the INTIMATE connection God wants us to have, how BIG God is, and that God is DIFFERENT than us.
- Surrender your will (verse 10) - This is the part that most of us skip over completely because we all have our will & kingdom - finances, relationships, health, family, career, goals. But before we get to our kingdoms & wills, Jesus wants us to STOP & understand that we are more committed to God's will & kingdom than our own. We are not coming to God to convince Him to bend in our direction, rather we are coming to God to make sure we are bent in His direction. It has been said that the length of your prayers will be determined by how long it takes you to surrender to "God's will be done".
- Acknowledge your dependence (verse 11-13) - This involves acknowledging, usually rather than requesting, all we have comes from God providing for us. It is also acknowledging that God has pardoned us, therefore we are to pardon others who wrong us. It also includes acknowledging we need God's protection from temptation and the desire to do evil.
Even if your requests don't get answered the way you want, this kind of prayer works everytime because the purpose of prayer is to surrender our will, not impose it.