Teach Us to Pray
Highlands High School Student
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “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. -Matthew 6:1-5
At a young age, I tended to believe that prayer was meant only for when we wanted to thank God for blessings or when we desired something or wanted an outcome to go a certain way, which of course is more than applicable, but my knowledge of prayer lacked the fundamental benefits that prayer encompasses. As I grew in my faith as a believer and developed a relationship with the Father, my view on prayer changed completely. Others believe prayer is meant only for a singular use, when we’re in times of trouble or when we seek worldly praise from others (vs. 5). But prayer is far from that. Prayer is a genuine gift from God, a way in which we can communicate with the Father privately and grow our relationship with him. He is our friend who we can go to in times of trouble, but also in times of happiness and joy.
Through prayer we can also listen to what God has to say to us as well, and let him lead us through our actions. Jesus emphasizes as well in Matthew 6:5 that prayer should also reflect a certain private intimacy between us as believers and God. There is something so intimate within the walls of prayer that we should long to pray in private long before we do so in public. It is good to pray in public, but our prayers should always be genuine prayers before the Father, with intentions to please only him.
Today, let us examine our intentions behind prayer through prayer and answering various questions, as we begin to fully understand the true meanings that come along with it.
- What does prayer mean to you?
- When do you most often go to God in prayer? Through trials and tribulations? In joyful times? When seeking appraisal?
- How does knowing that prayer helps grow and deepen your relationship with God change the way you think about prayer and when you pray?
- How has prayer changed your relationship with God?
Prayer: Lord, we often come to you with wants or desires, or when seeking praise from the wrong things, but transform us through your love to seek just you and only you. Lead us to pray, with intentions of a deeper and stronger relationship with you. Give us a heart longing for more of you and to learn more about you. Let us pray to you not for our own praise, but for the utmost praise for you. Through our struggles Lord, let us cling to you for strength in prayer. Let going to you privately in prayer be our default when we are caught in times of trouble. Lord, thank you for giving us the gift of prayer, so we can flourish in the fullness of your spirit and advance our relationships with you.