Week 5: What to Pray About
Jesus was a man of prayer. The
Bible tells us that before Jesus began his public ministry, he fasted for forty
days and forty nights in the desert. Except for angels who attended to him,
Jesus was alone (Mk ).
He was about 30 years old, and the time had come for him to fulfill his
mission. Being in the form of a man, the Lord could only have experienced many
of the same emotions as would a person about to embark on a rescue mission that
would result in certain death. But Jesus also knew full well that the eternal
lives of countless people hinged on this one sacrifice he must make. For such a
significant cause, Jesus, the Son of God, could only fast and pray to God the
Father for the strength and perseverance to accomplish his mission.
The Bible also tells us that
throughout Jesus’ three-year ministry, prayer would continue to be the pivot of
his life. For example, when a busy day lay ahead, Jesus made it a point to get
up before daylight, locate a quiet place, and spend the time alone in prayer
(Mk 1:35). The Bible tells us that Jesus was also committed to praying at the
end of a busy day (Mt 14:23). Even a time-out resulted in prayer (Lk 5:16). It is no wonder, therefore, that one day, a
disciple said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk
11:1). In this lesson, we shall study what it is that Jesus taught his
disciples to pray about.
Some Basic Principles
As quoted from Mt. 6:9-13
“Our Father in Heaven”
When we pray, we must keep in
mind that we are communicating with God and that he is listening to us. Not
only is our Lord the majestic and almighty God, he is also our loving Father
(Rom , Gal 4:6). We can
come to him as a child would his father, presenting to him anything, because he
cares for us (1 Pet 5:7).
“Hallowed Be Your Name”
This phrase reminds us to honor
and glorify Jesus’ name. We can praise and thank the Lord for his wonderful
deeds and blessings in our prayers and in our talks with others. A thankful
heart is vital to effective prayer (Ps 116:17, Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1Thess ). We can also glorify Jesus’ name by
living godly lives that will honor him. Literally speaking, we must not take
Jesus’ name in vain (Ex 20:7, Dt
) or use it
“Your Kingdom Come”
We pray that the Lord’s kingdom
and all that it represents—love, joy, righteousness, and peace—will reign in
our hearts, families, and society. We pray that the Lord will manifest his
kingdom in this world, driving away evil and darkness with his glorious light.
We look forward to the coming day when we will be with the Lord forever in his
“Your Will Be Done”
We have many needs and desires,
but it is important that we align these with God’s will. As Jesus faced his
coming crucifixion, he prayed, “Father, if it is Your
will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Lk ).
We can bring all of our requests before the Lord, but ultimately, we should ask
that he accomplishes his will for us. Remember that in prayer you are to fully
surrender your will over to God’s will (Mt ; 26:39; Heb 5:7,8).
“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
The Lord is our Sustainer and Provider, so we
can bring to him our every need, both spiritual and physical ones. We should
remember to give thanks to him for his sustenance. It also reminds us to be
content with having our daily provisions (Prov
“Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Forgive Our Debtors”
In our prayers it is important to
confess and repent of our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). Otherwise, sin will separate us from God and
ultimately lead to death (Jas ).
As we ask God to forgive our sins, we should also examine ourselves to see if
there is any enmity between us and other people. If we do, we need to forgive
them from our hearts and make peace with them (Mt -24). Unity is an important principle for
effective prayer. The early church’s unity was one reason they had effective
and powerful prayer (Acts ;
2:1, 46; , 32).
“Do Not Lead Us Into
Temptation, but Deliver Us From the Evil One”
We pray that the Lord will keep
us from temptation and sin, preserving our faith until the day he comes again.
God not only sustains us physically, but he also sustains us spiritually. Jesus
is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:2), and we rely on him to
guide us step by step through this journey of faith.
“For Yours is the Kingdom
and the Power and the Glory Forever”
Our Lord Jesus is the almighty
God and Lord of the universe. We pray with the understanding that all glory
belongs to him, and we seek none for ourselves.
A prayer list can often help you
stay focused and motivated. Since most of our prayer content falls into three
categories, the following serves as an example.
Things Pertaining to God.
Praise and thank God for his grace and salvation
(Ps 50:14; 116:13, 17; Dan -23;
Praise and thank God for his blessings in your
life and in the lives of those around you.
Pray that the gospel may be spread (Col 4:3)
Pray for God’s power to preach his word (Acts
4:29-30) and to do his work.
Pray that God’s will may be done (Mt 6:10,
Things Pertaining to Others
Pray for family members, relatives, friends, or
brothers and sisters in church who need God’s hand (Lk
-32; Acts 12:5; Col; 1Thess ; Heb )
Pray for those who are newly baptized or seeking
Pray for those who have sinned against you or
have persecuted you (Mt 6:12).
Things Pertaining to Ourselves
Pray for the Holy Spirit if you haven’t already
received this promise (Lk -13).
Pray for the forgiveness of your sins (Mt 6:12).
Pray for deliverance from evil and temptation
Pray that you can surrender to God’s will and
come under his rule (Mt 6:10; 26:39).
Pray to edify yourself and build yourself up in
the spirit (1 Cor 14:2, 4; Jude 20)
Pray for God’s comfort in suffering (Jas 5:13)
and for healing (Jas 5:14-16).
Pray for God’s guidance on important decisions (Lk 6:12,13).
Pray for wisdom (Jas 1:5) and revelation (Dan
Pray for your physical needs (E.g. Mt 8:2; 2Cor
Humbly pray for spiritual gifts to serve the
church, keeping in mind that spiritual gifts are given according to God’s will
(1Cor 12:11; 14:1, 12-13).
Jesus was a man of prayer. T/F
What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ prayers?
Memorize the Lord’s Prayer and write it down.How does knowing that God is our heavenly Father
affect our attitude during prayer?How can we “hallow
God’s name” in our daily lives?As we bring our
requests before God, what should be our attitude?Why
is it important to ask for God’s forgiveness in prayer?How
does our relationship with others affect our prayer?Why
would a prayer list be helpful?As human beings, our
greatest challenge may perhaps be when we pray that God’s will be done. Was
there a time when you wondered if you actually meant what you prayed about? How
did you struggle and overcome so that God’s will was done?
has prayed every day for God to strengthen her faith and help her family.
However, recently she’s been having some problems with her prayers. Jenny says,
“As you probably know, I always pray that God will improve my faith and bless
my family. Thanks to God’s grace, my faith has improved and my family doesn’t
really have problems anymore. But nowadays, things are going so well that I
just don’t know what to pray about anymore. So until things start going bad
again, my prayers just seem pointless.”
How would you advise Jenny on improving the content of her prayers?
Darrell has a reputation of being a godly and
faithful Christian. Without fail, he attends every service and is never late.
Darrell is excited because he’s been assigned to lead Bible studies in his
local area. Darrell really wants this Bible study to make an impact on people’s
faith, so he thinks, “If I had the power to heal like
apostle Peter or Paul, others would believe in God. If that crippled sister was
healed, that would really encourage others in their faith.” With that in mind,
he begins to pray for the spiritual gift of healing. He prays to God for this
gift every day for three hours. After six months of this kind of prayer,
Darrell still does not have the gift of healing. Losing his faith in God,
Darrell gives up praying and resigns from leading Bible studies.
Is there was anything wrong with the content of Darrell’s prayer? If so, how
would you suggest that Darrel change his prayers?
Cassie has been seriously observing Lisa in
church ever since Lisa commented, “What an interesting dress.” Cassie was sure
that it was a sarcastic remark with a veiled insult. Lisa was probably just
jealous. Now during her prayers, Cassie can’t help but wish that God will
discipline Lisa for her rudeness and jealousy. A few Sabbaths later, Lisa
accidentally spills coffee all over her new blouse. Cassie can’t help but have
a good laugh in her heart. Later that day, Cassie offers up a prayer of
thanksgiving to God for giving her justice.
How do you think the relationship between Cassie and Lisa affects Cassie’s
prayer life?What changes do
you think Cassie needs to make?
a prayer list. List all of your prayer requests and group them in a way that is
easy for you to remember. Post this list in a visible area, and share this list
with your prayer buddy.
If you have a long prayer list, you may want to split up the items and devote
certain days for certain subjects. For example, you can devote Sunday for
family, Monday for God’s work, Tuesday for friends, Wednesday for the church, Thursday
for brothers and sisters in church, Friday for personal cultivation, and
Saturday for praise and thanksgiving.