Praying to Our Father

Jesus started off the model prayer He shared in Matthew 6 with a brief salutation. But what it may lack in length, it more than makes up for in depth.

This prayer is addressed to “Our Father in heaven.”

Those four words tell me several things:

I’m not an orphan. I have a Daddy who calls me His child.

And I’m not an only child. I apparently have brothers and sisters, hence “our Father.”

And our Father is in heaven. This tells me He has a different perspective on my life. He doesn’t just see it as it unfolds day-by-day, like I tend to view it. God sees my life from beginning to end.

He sees where I fit into His timeline and His purposes. He sees who my contemporaries are and how He created and designed us to do Kingdom work together.

He sees what’s around the bend and over the next hill. He knows the mountains I need to be prepared to climb and the valleys I will go through along the way. And because He’s my Father, He has designed my life so I’ll be prepared to climb those upcoming mountains and He’ll be with me as I walk through the valleys.

And because He’s OUR Father, I can always know that I’m never alone on my journey. Never.

And there will be times in life that make that truth difficult to remember.

A great example is in the book of I Kings when Elijah got depressed after the showdown on Mount Carmel.

Elijah had essentially set up a prayer duel between himself and all the prophets of Baal, to prove whose God was worth worshiping. And Jehovah God showed up there in an incredible way and proved Elijah was right and King Ahab and all the prophets of Baal were wrong. God proved that He is God and Baal is not. HUGE victory!

But afterwards, Ahab ran back home to Jezebel with his tail between his legs and tattled on Elijah, telling her how Elijah had humiliated Ahab in front of all his friends. So Jezebel threatened Elijah and told him he would be dead within 24 hours.

And even after all he had just witnessed God do on Mount Carmel, Elijah responded to Jezebel’s threat by running away and hiding. He told God he’d had enough. And He told God to just go ahead and take his life.

Then after some food and rest, Elijah tells God that he’s the “only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” Cue the Pity Party song.

God responds to Elijah’s self-pity by telling him about his next mission, which included other God worshipers, and then informed him that there were 7,000 people in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal or kissed him. I think Elijah got the message. He was not alone.

When we’ve gone through a highly emotional time or been in a tough spiritual battle . . . even when the outcome is extremely positive . . . it can be easy for us to get depressed, to feel alone, to want to hide.

Sometimes what we need to do is rest and eat and rest and eat.

But then we need to engage with God again and get ready for our next mission. And we always need to remember that we are never alone in our journey . . . even though we may feel like it at times.

Our heavenly Father’s presence lives inside us — Holy Spirit — and there are other God worshipers who walk beside us.

We are not alone.


How do you address God when you talk to Him?

How often do you feel and act as though you are a spiritual orphan? A spiritual only child?

What is your Kingdom purpose and who has God placed in your life to work with you?

How is God preparing you for your future?

Where are you now? On a mountain? In a valley?

When is the last time you felt depressed and totally alone in your mission? What did you do to recover? How did God help you gain clarity?


“Our Father Who is in heaven . . . .” Matthew 6:9 Amplified Version (AMP)

It’s Your Choice

Since we have a Father God who knows what we need before we even ask Him . . .

“Pray, therefore, like this: ‘Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.’” Matthew 6:9 Amplified Version (AMP)

Just this first sentence of the sample prayer that Jesus shares is powerful. He then goes on to give us the entire prayer as an example of how a God-follower can actually converse with the Creator of the Universe.

That we CAN talk to God is unbelievable. But add to that the fact that He WANTS us to have an intimate relationship with Him and to be comfortable carrying on a conversation with the One all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, all-creative, never-ending being who IS LOVE is enough to make my brain hurt.

And it humbles me. To the point that the only response I have is to offer Him all I’ve got. Which I then discover is nothing, because He owns everything I have. He’s given it all to me.

He gave me life. He gives me each breath. He provided a way for me to have eternal life through the death of His Son Jesus. He even gave me the faith to believe so I could experience that provision. And he gives me the praise I give Him as my response to His infinite love for me.

So what exactly can I give Him?

The only thing I find that I actually own is my will. My choices.

That’s how He created me. And you. I believe He gave every human being free will because He didn’t want a family of robots who HAD to love Him and do whatever He told them to do. He wants children who CHOOSE to love Him in response to His perfect love and to obey Him because we trust His infinite goodness.

Each individual gets to choose whether to love Him back or not. We get to choose whether to live our life for Him or not. We can choose to live for this world and all it has to offer us. Or we can choose to live our life focused on God and what He has planned for us . . . which is always GOOD. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Not good like chocolate cake and candy for every meal . . . which is what a child might think is good. But good like healthy food in healthy portions and regular exercise and sufficient sleep every night. That kind of good.

God knows exactly what you need in your life to become the person He created you to be, to fulfill the purpose He created you for, and to be ready to do the good works He has prepared for you to do. The way we become that person and fulfill that purpose and do those good works is to surrender our will to Him and follow His loving plan for our lives.

And that’s what this prayer is all about. Your choices. Your will.

It’s all you’ve got.

I’m Out of Control

In the previous two verses, Jesus talked about our motivation for praying.

In today’s two verses, He talks about the mechanics of praying.

Just as He did when He talked about motivation, Jesus again tells us what NOT to do. He says NOT to pray like the pagans. Specifically He says not to “keep on babbling.” The Amplified Version says “heap up phrases” and adds “multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over.”

He says the reason they did this was because they thought God would hear them if they kept talking.

The Amplified Version references the event on Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a prayer showdown. Baal’s followers prayed to him all day long, but to no avail. They didn’t shut up all day. And Baal never answered them. Ever.

I wonder why Jesus had to tell His followers not to babble. He wasn’t talking to pagans. The people He was talking to weren’t praying to an idol that couldn’t hear them. They were praying to Jehovah.

And yet He still felt they needed this instruction. Apparently they did.

Apparently we still do.

I love the way He gently reminds them (us) in verse 8 that “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”


Yes, He does.

But apparently I don’t always remember that. Because I have been known to babble when I pray. Especially when I’m in pain or someone I love is in pain and I KNOW there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s totally out of my control.

I wonder if that could be part of our problem. Control.

Being in pain or loving someone in pain and realizing you have absolutely no control over the situation can be agonizing.

And making the decision to let go—to give up all your attempts to control and manipulate the situation (and God!)—feels a lot like freefalling. Without a parachute. Knowing that if God doesn’t come through for you, the crash at the end of your descent will be catastrophic.

But that also sounds a lot like faith.

Could that possibly be the way God wants us to live life? Trusting Him to lead us. Trusting Him to protect us. Trusting Him to provide for us.

Trusting Him to know and do what’s best—for us and those we love. Even when things look and feel like they’re out of control?

Especially when things look like they’re out of control?

And could that possibly be the reason He sometimes allows us to be in those situations—to give us another opportunity to learn to trust Him more?

When we pray about those situations, we don’t need to repeat ourselves. God already knows . . . everything. Including how we feel about how He’s responding. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to tell Him what’s on our hearts and how we feel about it. I just don’t think He wants us begging or babbling—acting as if He either doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care. Like the pagans and their gods.

God hears us and He cares. More than we know.

We can trust God to do His job—which is to take care of us on our journey of becoming more and more like Him and bringing His kingdom to earth.

And if we do that, our prayers will be full of faith. And they’ll sound a lot like the model prayer He shares next.

I’m gonna shut up now before I start repeating myself.

And everyone said, “Amen.”

Application Questions:

  • When was the last time I babbled while praying?
  • What issue am I praying about that I would like to be able to control?
  • What is it about God’s response that makes me wonder if He either doesn’t hear me or doesn’t care about my problem?
  • How have I seen God work in a similar situation?
  • How well am I doing my job—of trusting God to take care of me and those I love?


Matthew 6:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Prayer Jeopardy

Jesus teaches about prayer in Matthew 6:5-15.


The first couple of verses (5-6) are about our motivation for prayer. He gives an example of the wrong way to pray and then he gives instructions on the right way to pray.


Jesus illustrates the wrong way to pray by telling how “hypocrites” prayed. I assume He calls them hypocrites because of the way they were praying—pretending to have a close relationship with God when what they really wanted was the admiration of men.


These religious people would find the most public place available—the local synagogue or a street corner—and they would stand there and pray. I don’t know if they prayed aloud or if they piously closed their eyes and prayed silently. It really doesn’t matter because their purpose for praying was to be seen by the people around them.


Jesus says that is the wrong motivation. He also says they received their full reward by praying like that. They were after people’s attention and admiration and possibly to upgrade their religious reputation, and that’s the reward they received.


But that was all. God apparently doesn’t reward that kind of prayer.


Next Jesus gives us some instructions on the right way to pray.


I love what the Amplified Bible says—“. . . go into your [most] private room” and close the door. This is such a polar opposite of where the hypocrites prayed – in the most public arena they could find. This description suggests a very intimate relationship and conversation.


Then He says to pray to your invisible Father – which makes me wonder who the hypocrites were praying to. Or if it even registered as a prayer at all in God’s opinion.


Jesus says if you pray to God like this—in secret, where no one else sees you—your Father in Heaven sees you and will reward you.


Let’s see . . . Man’s Approval and Attention or Rewards from God. I’ll take Rewards from God for $200, Alex.



Application Questions:


– What is my overall motivation for prayer: my reputation with people or my relationship with God?


– When did I last pray like a hypocrite—saying something to impress the people listening?


– What was my reward?


– Where is my private place to pray?


– How often to I go there?




Matthew 6:5-6 Amplified Bible (AMP)


Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already.

But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.