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Pray Like Jesus
Bible study on prayer.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray by giving this prayer as an example:

"'Our Father who is 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 debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen]'" (Matt. 6:9-13).

In this short series, we want to explore the components to Jesus' prayer, and apply them to our prayers in the 21st century.

Pray for Brethren
In teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus began the prayer by saying, "Our Father. . . ."

The first word in Jesus' model prayer is "our," a plural pronoun. Notice that He continued to use plural pronouns throughout the prayer ("us" and "we").

From Jesus' usage of plural pronouns, we learn to pray for other disciples when we pray for ourselves.

Often times, the things we pray for personally are things we can pray for other brethren. Things like material and spiritual blessings, health, peace, etc.

By praying for others when we pray for ourselves, incorporating plural pronouns into our prayers, we make the most of our prayers.

Pray to God as Your Father
The second word Jesus spoke in the model prayer is "Father."

As Christians we've been adopted by God, by which we cry out, "Abba Father" (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). We're incredibly blessed to beseech God as our Father, having access to Him through Jesus (Eph. 2:18; 3:12).

God's designation as our Father speaks volumes regarding the relationship we have with Him, and the relationship He has with us.

  • It communicates God's love, and our hope as His children (1 Jn. 3:1-3; Rom. 8:17).
  • It communicates God's nurture, and our dependence on Him (Eph. 1:3-6; 5:29-30).
  • It communicates that God teaches us (Jn. 6:45).
  • It communicates the security God extends to us in Christ (Col. 3:3-4).
  • It communicates that God disciplines us (Heb. 12:5-11).

Praying to God as our Father makes a meaningful impact on our prayers, lovingly speaking to Him with total dependence, accepting His answers to all our prayers.

Praise and Glorify God
At the beginning and end of the prayer, Jesus praised and glorified God. At the beginning He said, "hallowed be Your name." And at the end He said, "For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever."

"Hallowed" means to make holy, sanctify. In the prayer Jesus acknowledges that God's name is holy, praising and glorifying Him.

The fact that Jesus praised and glorified God twice in His short prayer, teaches us to do the same in our prayers, spending a good amount of time glorifying God when we pray.

Pray About the Kingdom
Jesus prayed about the kingdom, saying, "Your kingdom come."

"Kingdom" denotes the domain of the king.

Although the kingdom has already come and men enter it by obeying the gospel (Col. 1:13), there are many things to pray about regarding the kingdom today. For example, we can:

  • Pray for Christ's rule over the kingdom.
  • Pray for people in the kingdom (Christians) -- that they put God's kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).
  • Pray for the numeric growth of the kingdom -- that more people obey Jesus and become members.
  • Pray for Christ to come, and take citizens of His kingdom to heaven.

Pray About God's Will
Jesus prayed that God's will be done, saying, "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

Jesus exemplifies this attitude in prayer, when He offered up prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears in the garden, with sweat falling to the ground like drops of blood.

He prayed, saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will" (Mk. 14:36).

Our attitude in life is the same as Jesus', "yet not what I will, but what You will." As such, this attitude is reflected in our prayers, praying with a submissive heart, wanting God to accomplish His will in our lives, no matter the personal cost.

Pray For Daily Needs
In the model prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily needs, saying, "Give us this day our daily bread."

Although God promises to give us the basic necessities of life (Matt. 6:25-33), He desires for us to ask for them in prayer, thus acknowledging our dependence on Him for everything, which helps us remain humble.

When we pray, asking God to supply our basic needs, we cast our heaviest burdens on Him (food, drink, clothing, shelter), which helps us overcome worry and anxiety, as we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (Matt. 6:33; Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Although we're prone to take the necessities of life for granted, we must discipline ourselves to thoughtfully pray for them, knowing that we depend upon God for everything in life.

Pray For Forgiveness
Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness, saying, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." It's a sobering thought that God forgives us, partially based on our forgiveness of others.

Immediately after the prayer (as recorded in Matthew) Jesus says, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matt. 6:14-15).

Jesus illustrates this lesson when Peter asked how often he should forgive his brother. He tells a parable about a king who forgave a slave who owed about $400,000,000. But when the slave refused to forgive a fellow slave who only owed $16,000, the king summoned him and said, "'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?'" (Matt. 18:32-33)?

The parable concludes with the king handing the unforgiving slave over to the torturers.

Then Jesus teaches the spiritual lesson we should learn, saying, "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matt. 18:35).

In other words, we'll be lost for eternity, if we don't forgive others from our hearts.

  • "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (Col. 3:12-13).
  • "For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (Jas. 2:13).

Pray For Deliverance
Jesus teaches to pray for deliverance, saying, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Peirasmos, the Greek word translated "temptation" in Matt. 6:13, has caused some confusion, sounding like God leads people into temptation. But that's not the case, since God tempts no man (Jas. 1:13).

Rather, peirasmos denotes a trial (which can be tempting), not a temptation from Satan.

For example, James uses peirasmos twice, saying:

  • Jas. 1:2 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."
  • Jas. 1:12 "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."

Say Amen
At the end of the prayer, Jesus said "Amen," which means "so let it be."

By saying Amen at the end of a prayer, we beseech God one final time to hear our petition.

And when listening to a public prayer, we join together as listeners and say "Amen," assenting to the things said and beseeching God to hear our prayer (1 Cor. 14:6).

A Persistent Friend
Jesus tells a story to teach us to be persistent in prayer.

"Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs" (Lk. 11:5-8).

From the story, it seems the men weren't rich, or slaves would have done the work.

So based on Oriental customs of the day, the man was probably asleep with his wife and children on the floor, in their one room house, when his friend knocked. The knocking would have aggravated his whole family. And getting up to give his friend the bread, he would have disturbed everyone in the house.

Understanding the cultural context of the story, we realize that getting up to get the bread was more than inconvenient. It was, as we say today, a hassle.

Jesus uses this story to teach persistence. He says, "yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs."

God wants us to be persistent in our prayers. Not that He wants us to bug him to get an answer to our prayers, but God wants us to have a fervent and diligent prayer life.

Persistently Pray
God teaches us to be persistent in a number of Scriptures.

Once a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, pleading for Him to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus didn't answer, possibly testing her faith, but she persistently sought His help, saying "Lord, help me" (Matt. 15:25)!

When Jesus answered the woman, He said, "'It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs (Matt. 15:26).'" But she replied, "'Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table (Matt. 15:27).'"

Jesus remarked that the woman's faith was great, and granted her request, healing her daughter at once.

Why was her faith so great? Simply put, it was great because she was persistent in her prayer (request) to Jesus. She didn't give up!

Today, if our faith is great, we'll be persistent in our prayers. We won't give up!

  • "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Th. 5:16-18).

Ask, Seek, and Knock
Following the model prayer and the example of the Canaanite woman, Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock.

  • "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened" (Lk. 11:9-10).

Jesus gives us three components of a persistent prayer life:

  • Ask: Like the Canaanite woman, persistently pray to God. And don't give up.
  • Seek: Like the Canaanite woman, seek the Lord's favor, persistently petitioning Him to grant your desires and wishes.
  • Knock: Like the man who needed bread, persistently knock, confident God will answer your prayer in the way that's best for you.

Jesus teaches us the how to pray, teaching us to be persistent in our petitions to God, just as He persistently prayed in the garden, hours before His crucifixion.

As a faithful Christian, you're persistent in your prayers! You don't give up, casting all your anxiety on God, in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, making your requests known to Him. As a result, you have the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension, guarding your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7).


  • Pray for brethren.
  • Pray to God as your Father.
  • Praise and glorify God in your prayers.
  • Pray about the kingdom.
  • Pray about God's will.
  • Pray for your daily needs.
  • Pray for forgiveness.
  • Pray for deliverance.
  • Say Amen at the end of your prayer.
  • You're persistent in your prayers.
  • You ask, seek, and knock in your prayers.