Throughout the life of Jesus, despite being the Son of God, he took time to pray. Someone might ask, “If Jesus was God, why did He need to pray?” Jesus prayed because He understood something that we must all grasp in our walk with God—prayer is communication with God. And communication is vital to relationships and love.
To ask why Jesus communicated with His Father in prayer is like asking why a husband communicates with his wife throughout the day. Relationship requires communication. Love communicates. And prayer is our communication channel with God.
Jesus’ disciples recognized that prayer was part of His daily lifestyle. Things happened when Jesus prayed. So one day the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray. Most people are familiar with Jesus’ answer, which is known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Many people have memorized this prayer and have prayed it throughout their lives. But there are important truths found within this prayer that can open up the blessing and favor of God in your life like nothing else can.
This is not only a prayer, but also a template for a life that is devoted to prayer.
Enter with Praise
Jesus started His teaching on prayer with worship. “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” To “hallow” is to praise. Jesus is saying, “Our Father, we praise your holy name.” Jesus was building on the words of the psalmist:
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4 ESV).
Any time we pray, we should begin by giving praise to God before anything else. By this, we give honor to the Creator of all things, while also declaring our love for Him.
Dominion of the King
Jesus goes on to say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This echoes the creation, where God declared:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens
and over the livestock and over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV).
The suffix “-dom” ending in the word “kingdom” derives from the Latin dominus, meaning “lord.” So when Jesus told his disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come” he was instructing us to say, “may the dominion of the King of Heaven be over every area of my life.”
As we have said, this is God’s plan for every believer—for us to work as co-laborers on the earth to build the Kingdom of God in relationship with Him. You will remember that in the Garden of Eden, God delegated authority to people to tend the land and name the animals. This was the task given. Then God came down to fellowship and communicate with Adam and Eve during the cool part of the day. This was the relationship.
By praying according to the template found in the Lord’s prayer, we stand up in the Spirit and declare, “Your will be done” in every issue that we face. We are placing ourselves in agreement with God’s plan for us as individuals and for the entire earth.
C.S. Lewis referred to this kind of intercessory prayer as being “God’s fellow-worker” in the world (1 Corinthians 3:9). “How or why does such faith occur sometimes, but not always, even in the perfect petitioner? … My own idea is that it occurs only when the one who prays does so as God’s fellow-worker, demanding what is needed for the joint work.”
“The difference, we are told, between a servant and a friend is that a servant is not in his master’s secrets,” Lewis explains. “For him, ‘orders are orders.’ He has only his own surmises as to the plans he helps to execute. But the fellow-worker, the companion or (dare we say?) the colleague of God is so united with Him at certain moments that something of the divine foreknowledge enters his mind. Hence his faith is the ‘evidence’—that is, the evident-ness, the obviousness—of things not seen.”
When we pray “Your will be done,” we become “God’s fellow-worker” in God’s ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). This intercession is part of the priesthood ministry of Jesus that continues to this day:
“But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable
priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost
those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to
make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25 NKJV).
God invites us to join with him in this intercession. We have a role to play as priests before God—standing as representatives of fallen man, crying out to heaven for mercy.
“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 NKJV).
“They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6 NKJV).
As we pray God’s will on the earth, we are standing as a priest—or an intermediary—between God and mankind. This is one of the main reasons we pray. God’s intention from the beginning of time is that we would carry His delegated authority. So when we pray “Your will be done,” we are standing in the gap between a holy God and sinful humankind. That is what intercession is all about.
Lewis continues: “‘Thy will be done.’ But a great deal of it is to be done by God’s creatures; including me. The petition, then, is not merely that I may patiently suffer God’s will, but also that I may vigorously do it. I must be an agent as well as a patient. I am asking that I may be enabled to do it.”
God wants to enter the affairs of man and bring answers and solutions to the daunting problems we face. But He is waiting on people of faith to decide to partner with Him in prayer.
While this is a true, Biblical statement, have you ever wondered why He would choose to work this way? Why doesn’t God just come in and do what He wants to do in the world? He is sovereign, isn’t He? He is all powerful, isn’t He?
Why do we need to pray? The answer to that question is vital to our walking in the full authority that God intends for us to have in prayer.
Exercising Our God-Given Authority in Prayer
To understand the authority that God intends for all believers to exercise, first we need to recognize that all authority resides with God. He is sovereign. He holds the universe in His hands. Anything that exists is there because He willed it to be so. Speaking of the authority of Christ, Paul wrote to the Colossian church:
“For in him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on
earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or
authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before
all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 NIV).
As creator and sustainer of all things, God has all authority in heaven and on earth. He can do whatever He desires to do, whenever and wherever He desires to do it. But the Bible also reveals that God is love. It’s important to understand that it is not just that God loves, but that He is the embodiment of love. Because God is love, He gave a free will to people when He created them. He wants people to return His love freely.
God gave man responsibility in the world—dominion, or delegated authority, to carry out God’s will on this planet. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18 NASB). Jesus was making it clear that as the Son of God, He had all authority in Heaven. And because He was the Son of Man who had paid the price of sin on the cross, He now had all authority on earth as well.
As the Second Adam, Jesus received the authority that God had intended for man since the creation. Because of the New Covenant, God calls us to partner with Him in prayer that His Kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is another important reason we pray.
Give Us Our Daily Bread
Next in the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “give us this day our daily bread.” This daily bread is both spiritual and material. At this part of the template, we are praying first that God will bless us with spiritual bread—this includes the fruit of the Spirit at work in our life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Our spiritual daily bread feeds our soul.
Then there is the prayer for material daily bread. The apostle Paul declares:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God
what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).
God is pleased to provide for our needs, and He desires for us to ask Him as part of our relationship with Him.
Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive Others
In order to keep our relationship with God strong, it’s important for believers to repent for sin when it happens. Part of our daily time with the Lord should be keeping “short accounts” with God. At the same time, it’s important that we also forgive those who “sin against us.”
God wants us to come with Him for our needs and to thank Him for the answers to our prayers. In Christ’s teaching on the Lord’s prayer in the Gospel of Matthew, He reinforces the importance of forgiveness:
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT).
The Bible tells us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV). If you need to forgive anyone, take a moment to do so right now. And if you are having a hard time forgiving that person, ask the Lord to give you His grace to do so. You will be amazed at what God can do with a person who is willing to forgive—even if he or she doesn’t feel like it.
Forgiveness is an important part of the Christian lifestyle, and that is why it’s important to pray this on a daily basis.
Protection from Temptation
In our human weakness, we are vulnerable to the temptations of the world and of the devil. We need God’s grace and strength on a daily basis to walk in God’s ways. That is why Jesus included in the template, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13 NLT).
It’s important to pray for God’s protection for our families and ourselves every day.
Keys to Answered Prayer
Once we know that God desires for us to be intercessors and has given us His authority to co-labor with Him in the Spirit, we need to learn how to pray in a way that gets results. The apostle James declared: The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16 NASB).
So how do our prayers become effective? First, it is through having a daily, intimate relationship with Jesus—by what He called “abiding in the Vine” that we bear much fruit for the Kingdom. Jesus declared:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit
of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you
unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4 NASB).
Our motivation in prayer will flow from our relationship with Jesus. Our compassion toward others will be birthed from our love for God. Our ministry will then come from the overflow of our relationship with the Lord. Jesus went on to say:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he
bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not
abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up” (John 15:5-6 NASB).
As we pray in faith, motivated by our love for God and our compassion for others, we will see Him answer our prayers and move mightily. He wants to answer these prayers. In Matthew 6:33, we read that if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” by abiding in Jesus through our love relationship, then “all these things will be added to [us]” (NASB), and we will bear much fruit.
The Disciplines of Prayer
In order to have God’s results as we pray, we need to intercede in the way that God directs in His Word. So here are some Biblical principles that you can employ to make your prayer life more effective and fruitful for the Kingdom.
Pray in Faith
The only way to be effective in prayer is to ask in faith.
“And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say
to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the
sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is
going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all
things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received
them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:22-24 NASB).
Praying in faith is a prerequisite to God’s moving on our behalf. The apostle James wrote concerning the prayer of faith:
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like
the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to
expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded
man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8 NASB).
Faith is the currency of Heaven. It is by faith that we receive salvation in the first place (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Everything that God wants to give us in this life is received only through faith.
Pray According to God’s Word
Tremendous power is in the Word of God, whether spoken, prayed, or meditated upon.
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 NASB).
When we pray the Scriptures in faith, we are speaking the life of God into the atmosphere. The wise intercessor wields the Sword of the Spirit––the Word of God––in prayer.
Be Persistent in Prayer
Jesus shared this parable while teaching on prayer:
“And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to
him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for
a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to
set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me;
the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot
get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and
give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence
he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5-8 ESV).
Then Jesus added this instruction:
“And I tell 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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks
it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10 ESV).
The literal translation of this passage reads: “Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be opened to you.” In addition to praying in faith, we must be persistent in our prayers.
Pray in Agreement
There is tremendous power when Christians come together to pray in agreement. Jesus declared:
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20 NLT).
The psalmist declared, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! … For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever” (Psalm 133:1, 3 NASB). Unity among believers brings both power in prayer and the blessing of God.
Just as God blesses unity in prayer, so He blesses us as we gather as Christians in fellowship or church gatherings. This is the community of believers—and it is a tremendous place to grow in your faith and to use the gifts that God has placed within you. Learn more in chapter 7!
 Lewis, C.S. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. 9 April 2019. <https://cslewisthoughts.tumblr.com/post/184058488281/it-seems-to-me-we-must-conclude-that-such>.
 Lewis, C.S. “”Thy Will Be Done” – C.S. Lewis on the Third Petition, from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.” 10 December 2011. Pseudepigraphus. <https://www.pseudepigraph.us/2011/12/10/thy-will-be-done-c-s-lewis-on-the-third-petition-2/>.