What Every Christian Should Know About Prayer

It's Not What You Think

You only truly know what you experience. So when a disciple made the request to Jesus, “Teach us to pray,” Jesus did not give his disciples a book to read, a program to follow, or a video to watch. He didn’t form a small group to study prayer. He didn’t give them words to study, exegete, or preach. He gave his disciples words to say and a way to say them. That, according to Jesus, is what it means to pray. That’s how you learn to know how to pray. You learn to pray by praying. There is no theory here, no theoretical ideas at all.

 

You don’t understand Jesus’ words in order to say them. You say them in order to understand them. 

Jesus made prayer accessible and good. We’ve made prayer complicated and intimidating. Let me save you hours of frustration and help prayer become simple again. 

Learn to Pray By Praying 

Learning to pray is a meandering path for many Christians. My journey with God in prayer has taken me from a period when I dismissed prayer as unnecessary to the present where prayer has become an integral part of each day. Along the way were long stretches of inconsistent time with God followed by short bursts of focused effort. On my own I tried my best to learn how to pray by reading books on prayer. “I need to pray! So, I’ll read a book about prayer.” Huh?

However, what I needed to do was actually pray. Learning comes in doing. You learn to play the guitar by playing the guitar. You learn to swim by swimming. You learn to cook by cooking. You learn to pray by praying. Jesus knew this. When asked to “Teach us to pray,” Jesus gave his disciples words to say and a way to say them.

We have much to learn from this brief exchange. But first let’s see that…

Prayer is best learned by repeating a set prayer.

Jesus gave his disciples a liturgy, a prayer liturgy – a form or order to follow with meaningful words expressing the essentials for living in relationship with God. Good prayer liturgy is the way you learn to pray. Good prayer liturgy teaches you to know God and yourself in relationship with Him. It’s that simple. 

Here it is simple and plain. Learn to pray by saying this prayer from Jesus in the morning, at meals, and at night. 

Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be your name

Your kingdom come

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, 

Give us today our bread 

and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors 

and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. 

Don’t listen to the ignorant naysayers who believe that repeating a set of words becomes boring, methodical, nonsensical, and rote. They don’t actually know what they’re talking about. Real liturgical prayer is filled with meaning, struggle, surprises, depth, and wonder. Follow Jesus. He knows what he’s talking about. 

I have been saying these words almost daily (and now multiple times during the day) for over 5 years now. After all these years, I’ve not tapped into the depth of their meaning though new experiences of prayer sometimes happen. This prayer, in particular, is an inexhaustible treasure of God’s life, love, and light. 

Say it consistently with a humble heart and you’ll discover its treasure. 

How will you implement Jesus’ prayer to his disciples in your own daily life? What obstacles do you need to overcome in order for this to happen? When will you start? Share below. 

Dr. K 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

14 thoughts on “What Every Christian Should Know About Prayer

  1. I have been saying this prayer for as long as I can remember… Teaching myself as a child before I knew Christ personally: God working in me! When I became a follower of Christ it took on a brand new meaning… I begin every prayer session with it now, knowing and finding comfort in the fact that when I can’t find the “right” words, Jesus is there to be my interpreter, even if I don’t say anything!!!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Sharron. Even a child can say these words in love to the Father. I love your comment about using this prayer when you can’t find the “right” words. These words are the right words. Thank you for engaging with us on the spiritual journey. You are a blessing! Keith

  2. I’m just beginning to learn the depths of prayer and meditation by saying this and other prayers of the saints of the ages. Thanks for leading and urging me into this journey with Christ!

    • Hey Greg. We’re all “just beginning.” 🙂 That’s one of the joys of liturgical prayer – you never exhaust their depth yet are always satisfied by their experience. Thanks be to God for all things! Keith

  3. Just a note to share how much I enjoy your blog, even though I don’t often comment. I enjoy it so much that I often share it around the table with my family (including six kids). 🙂 Thank you!

    • Hi Sandi (I presume :-)). You’ve made my day!?! Thank you for reading The UnCommon Journey and commenting. One great way to practice this prayer of Jesus is to say it with your family before a meal. Perhaps you’re already doing this. Again, thanks!! Thanks be to God for all things! Dr. K

  4. I am so glad I have found this site! It helps me to know I am not the only one who struggle with prayer. I thought I was just not getting it right.

    • Hi Alma. Welcome to the journey filled with joyful struggle. All of us struggle with prayer. It’s supposed to be that way. There are no experts who’ve got it right. However, there are those who can help us learn because they’ve devoted their lives to the understanding/experience of prayer. They can, by their example and teachings, help guide us in the struggle. Jesus is one of these “helpers” along with the Holy Spirit, Apostles and monastics. As you walk with us on the journey, we’ll discover more realities that help us along the way. Thank you for your comment. Thanks be to God for all things! Dr. K

  5. Reading your post just minutes after my prayer, “Lord, I feel like I need to get better organized with my prayer life. It’s so messy. All over the place. Maybe notecards…”

    Again, your post so timely Keith! God is using your words to move His words into my life.

    I like it. Just pray!
    Margi

    • Thank you, Margi. Prayer is learned as we pray. Jesus teaches this and lives it. Simplifying, silence and a “routine”/liturgy have helped me organize my prayer life. Keep at it and you, guided by those who commune constantly – the Trinity, will find your way. Blessings to you. Keith

      • So enjoyed praying Jesus’ prayer yesterday, multiple times. My “experiment”? An exciting start! So much so, I read your post to hubster this morning. I also shared your thoughts with our mutual friends today over coffee:)

        • How wonderful!! Thanks for sharing this with the rest of us on the journey…and for sharing this part of your life with family and friends. I hope communing with God in this manner deepens your relationship with Him. Blessings. Keith

  6. This has been such a key part of dealing with my own anxiety issues this year. So thankful for the refresher!

    • Hi Pastor Rob. Thank you for sharing your experience of prayer’s effectiveness in your life situations. Blessings to you in all your joyful struggles. Keith

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