How to Pray

I am not opposed to prayer incorporating these categories. The Bible teaches that these things are to be a part of our prayer lives. But a rigid adherence to some mechanical formula is not what Jesus is teaching. The Scriptures never command faith in formulas, but faith in God. Our Lord is not teaching a basic outline but rather teaching what is the nature and essence of prayer.


Prayer is for Petitioning

The essence of prayer is petitioning, in other words, seeking God for answers to requests. Before you think that I have run amuck in self-centeredness, consider the following facts. The bulk of this prayer in Luke 11 is petitioning. After the salutation, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” the remainder of the prayer is nothing but requests. These requests are general categories of the kind of things that should be consuming our desires and manifesting as petitions.

Read other prayers in the New Testament, and you will see that they too are primarily petitions. Prayer is our means of expressing our heart to God in petition. To further substantiate this view of prayer is the parable that follows. Jesus speaks of a neighbor who has a guest at midnight but nothing to feed him. His solution is to go to his neighbor and friend and solicit some bread. But the friend is in bed with his children tucked in soundly. He refuses to get up and meet his neighbor’s need. But the friend will not be put off and continues to petition until the man rises out of bed and gives him what he needed.