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Series Theme:  Prayer

Title:   2. Praying Aright


1. Pray for Anything?

What does a child ask its father?

  • it asks father for things
  • it asks father for help
  • it asks father questions
  • what else does a child say to its father?
  • it tells him what it feels
  • it tells him what it is doing
  • it tells him what it hopes
  • it learns to say thank you for what it receives


Somebody has suggested the following meaning for Phil 4:6:

“Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything and tell God all your needs and then don't forget to thank Him for His answers.”

From that we see what we can pray about.

Remember God knows about every area of your life and nothing is hid from Him. Think about that: He knows about every intimate area of your life and there's absolutely nothing hidden from Him. We also need to remember that He knows everything there is to know about everything, including our own areas of “expertise” See Lk 5:1-9 for the shock Peter had when he suddenly realised this!

Jas 4:2 also provokes us with the suggestion that perhaps we don't have because we don't ask (we'll see what follows on later) and so the reminder is there - ask! Don't be afraid of asking, little children ask of their fathers.

2. Praying as Guided by Jesus in Scripture

In Scripture, in the so-called “Lord's Prayer” of Mt 6:9-13, Jesus gives us some guidelines as to what to ask for:

v.9 “Our Father in heaven”

  • there it is again, a loving, caring child to father relationship
  • He is in heaven overseeing us and waiting for us
  •  He has all the resources of heaven at His disposal

v.9 “hallowed be your name”

  • His name is to be revered (that balances “Father” and stops it becoming casually intimate!)
  • He is holy, worthy of our worship

v.10 “your kingdom come”

  • a desire for God's rule to come through our lives
  • that first and foremost should be our desire

v.10 “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

  • a desire to see God's desires to be fulfilled as clearly on earth as they are perfectly done in heaven
  • this requires our lives to be lived out to the best of our understanding, not merely praying it, but seeking it as well

v.11 “Give us today our daily bread

  • a realisation that we entirely rely on God for our daily need
  • we can ask for wisdom to know “how” (Jas 1:5)
  • we can ask for the grace (ability to cope and triumph) needed for any and every situation (Phil 4:19 / 2 Cor 9:8)

v.12 “Forgive us our debts”

  • a recognition of our need for forgiveness daily

v.12 “as we forgive others”

  • an awareness of our need to forgive others

v.13 “and lead us not into temptation”

  • an awareness of our need of His help to overcome sin

v.13 “but deliver us from the evil one”

  • an awareness that we need His help to overcome the wiles and outright attacks of Satan


v.13 “for yours is the kingdom”

  • a final declaration of faith that God rules!

So daily we can :

  • declare our intentions to do His will & rely upon Him
  • ask for His provision of :
    • wisdom
    • grace
    • forgiveness
    • help against temptation
    • help against Satan
    • declare His Lordship

3. Praying as Guided by the Holy Spirit

In Eph 6:18 Paul encourages us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions, or pray as led by the Spirit. This means that as we develop in the Christian faith, seeking to do His will, we also seek to learn to be guided and directed by the prompting of the Holy Spirit from within. To achieve this we need to observe one or two simple guidelines

3.1 We do need to be praying (see also Jas 4:2)

  • it is as we pray that we are led
  • it is easy to talk about prayer but rarely do it!

3.2 We need to be listening

  • if we are to be led, it means we hear from God
  • we need a listening, attentive attitude
  • we need to clear our minds and focus on Him
  • we will need to learn to be disciplined and not side-tracked

3.3 We need to check everything against Scripture

  • the Bible is to be our ultimate check


4. Praying in the Will of Jesus

As we pray led by the Spirit,

  • we may expect Him to give us a sense of what Jesus wants us to do,
  • that we may pray it out and
  • expect it to happen


In Jn 14:13 Jesus promises that he will do whatever we ask in his name. That last little phrase means that we ask things that Jesus would want us to ask. It is as if we come to Father and say, “Father, I ask this because I believe Jesus wants this”

In Jn 15:7 Jesus says that he will give us whatever we ask when we remain in him and his words remain in us. This condition means we will get what we ask when we maintain a close relationship with him and his teaching fills our minds, so that when we pray we are praying out his heart.

Finally, Jas 4:3 tells us that we don't receive when we ask in prayer when we ask for selfish motives. There is a very real sense therefore that prayer is bringing us in line with Jesus' will. Perhaps, therefore, we should view it as a learning experience, whereby we learn to hear from God by His word and by His Spirit and pray that out.


5. Praying out Scripture

If the Bible is God's declared will, then if we use Scripture to focus our praying, we will find that we are praying out God's will and the Holy Spirit will witness within us the truth of what we are praying, and faith will be released. This is not possible with all Scripture but it is with much. Use the Scripture as a source for thanks, declaration and petition.

An example using Eph 2:8-10 is shown below:

Father, thank you that you have saved me, and it is by grace.
Thank you that it is all because of what you have done through Jesus, Thank you that it's all a free gift. I didn't have to work for it

Thank you that you have a purpose for me
Please help me to walk in that purpose with understanding
Thank you that I can rest in your leading me into it

Please release faith in me more and more to do your works.

To finish, choose your own passage and pray it out .