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As I sat in the hospital room alone with my unconscious grandfather 10 hours before his last breath, I prayed constantly, talking to God as a friend, as someone who could bring peace to a situation where peace felt impossible. I prayed for my grandfather to be at peace, to go home and be with our Father, to find comfort, and to know that he is so loved. I prayed for my family to be at peace with his coming passing and that they would have strength.
I thanked God for all of the time I was lucky enough to spend with him, and all the memories we created. I thanked Him for taking care of my grandfather, for giving him peace in the end, and for bringing him home to live in Heaven, where I knew he would go. Prayer brought an incredible sense of peace for me as I watched every rise and fall of his chest and listened for every quiver of his breath, anticipating any one of them to be his last.
Why does prayer bring us peace? Why does prayer have such power?
Matthew 6 tells us how to reap the full blessings and benefits available through prayer, and helps us understand why we should pray this way.
‘”And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ‘Matthew 6:5-8
I thought for the longest time this meant that prayer was something only for me to know and hear privately, but that is actually a very common misinterpretation of this instruction. This verse tells us to not show off to other people with our prayers, to not pray empty prayers that sound nice, but to instead pray from the heart. Prayer is intended as a conversation between you and God and is not about the words of the prayer, but about the depth of your heart that it comes from.
Prayer that comes from the heart holds so much power. God already knows what is going to happen, what we need, and when we need it. We are called to pray for God to help, change, comfort, and guide us. We should pray for God to help us accept and be grateful for what He does in our lives, and pray to foster our relationship with Him and others. Prayer helps us to realign our focus to God, and remember that He is the one in control.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is an incredible example laid out to show us how we should pray. It is easy to dismiss this prayer as “old fashioned” and “irrelevant” before we understand that it is a kind of “prayer template”, each line having great significance.
What does the Lord’s Prayer mean?
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Acknowledge who God is; our Holy Father, whom we get to have a personal relationship with, and deserves our praise, worship and thankfulness for who He is.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Ask for God to work His will into our path, whatever is happening in our lives. We should be seeking God’s will rather than our own. If we are asking for something we want, we should always remember that our will should match His, and that His will may look different than our desires or what we think we need. God knows better than we do.
Someone very important to me always says “God gives 3 answers; Yes, not yet, or I have something better in store”. He doesn’t just say “no”. God knows what is best for us. He sees the whole entire picture, holds all knowledge and wisdom, and will always work everything together for “the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
Give us this day our daily bread,
Ask God to provide for our needs, with the hope and faith that He can and will, as He knows is best for us. Remember to give thanks for his provisions in your life. God will always provide and we should show appreciation to Him for all we have. We would not have or be anything without His grace.
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
We should admit that we are not perfect. It is in our nature to be sinful but through the blood of Jesus all sins are forgiven. Bringing our mistakes, imperfections, and sins to God through prayer cleanses us. God forgives us and lifts the weight of guilt and shame from us so we can move forward with peace. Because God forgives us, praying for God to help us forgive others gives us spiritual freedom, allowing us to let go of grudges, judgement, and hurt feelings.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”Matthew 6:9-13
God will never “tempt” us; the devil does that. We should pray for God to help us through the temptations we face, and to guide us through any testing He places before us, give us strength, courage and knowledge to learn and overcome.
We are called to have faith that God will always provide a way of escape from temptation. Have confidence that God can and will be your helper, even when you don’t think you need or deserve it.
‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ‘1 Corinthians 10:13
Prayer is a spiritual tool for us to communicate with God, to develop and foster a personal relationship with Him, to repent of our sins, and seek God above anything and anyone else. It should be done often and come from the heart.