Jesus’ Guidelines for Prayer

Jesus provided very specific instruction about prayer in His first teaching, The Sermon on the Mount, and in Luke 11 when his disciples asked “Lord, teach us to pray.”


“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

Matthew 6:5-8


Mark the following with T (true) or F (false).

___ a. Hypocrites act like they are praying to God but really are concerned with how others perceive them.

____b. Prayers are to be directed to our Father and not His Son, Jesus.

____ c. Repetition in prayer is always wrong.

____ d. Your Father knows what you need, so you do not have to ask Him in prayer.


Someone who pretends to focus on God when they pray but really is concerned with how others perceive him is a hypocrite according to Jesus. We should not play with the things of God for self-attention. Real prayer is between you and your Father God. Jesus gave clear instruction in John 15:16 and 16:23-27 that we should pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ as is seen repeatedly in the Scripture. No one prayed to Jesus, rather to the Father in his name. Jesus does not condemn repetition in prayer, rather “vain” repetition that is saying the same thing over and over in a robotic fashion without thought and contemplation.  Although God knows our needs even before we pray, we still must ask for His help in our prayers. (Answers a and b are true; c and d are false.)


The important matters to include in our prayers are set forth by our Lord.  This model prayer answers the oft asked questions – “How and what should I pray?” The prayer is not only self-concerned but also has concern for others. Notice and underline the plural pronouns like “our” and “we.” I started the underlining below.


Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way:

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.’”  Matthew 6:9-13


Our Father To whom we pray - God our Father
Who is in heaven Acknowledge His Almightiness
Hallowed be Your name Magnify His holiness
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven Mindfulness of God’s purpose of the ages, our eternal life
Give us this day our daily bread Request what is needed to live for Him
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors Ask forgiveness from God and give forgiveness to our fellow man
Do not lead us into temptation Lead us away from temptation
Deliver us from evil Deliver us from evil


We pray to the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth, who happens to be our Father. He dwells in the spiritual realm, often referred to as heaven. “Hallowed” means to honor as holy. He is “holy, holy, holy” according to Revelation 4:8. Today, His will is not predominant on earth, but when Jesus comes back, God’s will shall prevail. We are to be ever mindful of this end. Daily, at the least if not more, we are to ask for what is needed to live His will in this world. Daily, we ask forgiveness knowing that forgiving others is not optional if we want to receive forgiveness from Him. Temptation and evil are not something we can handle on our own; rather, daily we need and seek our Father’s help. The later part of the prayer: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” is in italics because it is not found in the Greek manuscripts; however, acknowledging this truth is good.


The Lord’s Prayer is also recorded in Luke 11 from a later occasion after the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” Jesus provides a similar, yet not identical prayer. The concepts of truth remain the same thus illustrating the prayer is not a magical formula but an outline of important issues.


And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NAU)

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