How often do you pray? Or maybe a better question is how often should you pray? The
scriptures say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to never stop praying. You’re
thinking, “But come on? Who really does that? How do you never stop praying? Who
has time for that?” Maybe you’re asking these questions yourself and already feeling
When you look at the statistics, it gets even scarier. Less than half of American adults
pray daily. Studies conducted by the Pew Research Center show that just under 45% of
American adults pray on a daily basis. And over 32% of people said they seldom or
The truth is, people and Christians alike are praying less than ever before. Why is that?
One of the most common answers given as to why people don’t pray is that they don’t
know how to pray. Some say that prayer feels as if you are just talking to yourself.
Others don’t believe it impacts their spiritual life or has no real significance. And others
just don’t make time or are too busy for this spiritual discipline. The good news is that Jesus taught us the very foundation of prayer and what it should look like.
In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching about prayer and fasting and makes a few
significant statements about how our prayer life is supposed to look.
The first lesson He teaches is that we’re not supposed to pray to gain public recognition
or attention. In verses 5-6, Jesus teaches us to pray privately to our Father and that He
will reward us. Now don’t misinterpret this scripture – Jesus isn’t teaching that we
should never pray in public. Going back to the research, we’ve gotten this wrong as
well. 82% of praying adults pray silently and by themselves. Jesus is teaching about the
heartbeat behind our prayers. Are we praying to draw closer to our Father, or are we
praying to look extra spiritual in front of others?
The next lesson Jesus teaches us is that prayer is about depth, not length. Jesus says
that when you’re making a prayer of request, it shouldn’t be a bunch of repetition of the
same words over and over again. The Gentiles had made practice of doing this. They
would repeat the same things over and over again, thinking that would cause their
prayers to be answered. But Jesus says that our Father knows what we need before we
ever ask. Meaning that God doesn’t need to hear our requests over and over again. He
desires that our prayers would be deep, not necessarily long.
Jesus then continues by teaching us how to pray and gives us the Lord’s prayer. Now
I’ve heard entire message series in churches that cover the Lord’s prayer, and we don’t
have enough time to go into all the different theological aspects of it today. But I want to
leave you with a couple reminders in regard to the Lord’s prayer and how we should
The first example we need to note in this prayer is honoring the Father. Jesus says,
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name”. Hallowed is one of those terms that we
hear in church, but don’t actually understand. Hallowed means to be considered sacred
or holy. When Jesus says, “hallowed be your name”, He’s saying that the name of God
is holy and should be treated as such.
Essentially, Jesus begins this prayer with an intentional act of honoring and giving
praise to the Father. Jesus didn’t start the prayer by asking God for all of the things He
wanted or needed help with. He began by giving honor to His Father - to our Father. So often when we pray, we bring our laundry list of requests and needs to God without honoring Him. We need to remember, even in our times of need, that we are to honor God with our prayers.
Another example we need to note from this prayer is submission to the Father’s will.
Jesus says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Notice
that Jesus didn’t say, “My will be done on earth”. In praying for God’s will to be done on
earth, Jesus exemplified that we are to put God’s will above our own. This means that
we truly desire for God’s purposes, plans, and desires to be fulfilled in our lives. But this is
more than just words being spoken. When we pray, it realigns us with God’s heart, and
in doing so, it moves us into action.
As we conclude today, I don’t know where you’re at in your prayer life. Maybe you
haven’t prayed today, for a long time, or maybe you haven’t ever prayed. What I know is
that God designed prayer as an open line of communication between you and your
Heavenly Father. Prayer was never created to be an impossible task. Jesus taught us
how to pray and what it should look like. Find time today to make prayer a priority in