Jesus’ Teaching: Prayer
What did Jesus teach about prayer?
Prayer is important for Christians, as they believe it is one of the main ways through which our relationship with God can grow deeper. Just as we grow closer to our friends when we spend time with them, so Christians believe that in spending time talking and listening to God we will grow closer to him.
Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer. The New Testament tells us that Jesus would get up before it was light in order to find a quiet place to pray. For Jesus his relationship with God the Father was key to his very being and prayer was at the centre of that relationship.
One day, recognizing the importance of prayer to Jesus, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus taught them the prayer that we now call the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4 & Matthew 6:9-13). This passage can be found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Our Father in heaven,
Holy is your name.
For Jesus it was essential that when we pray our minds are not focused on ourselves but on Father God. ‘Holy’ means special – it reminds us that God is great.
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Christians believe that God’s Kingdom is one of peace and love, where there is no hatred or anger, pain or sorrow. God is King here. It is a Christian’s hope that one day Earth will be like this, as it already is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
God does care about every part of our lives and Christians believe that all good gifts come from Him.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
‘Sin’ means the actions, words and thoughts that fall short of what God wants in our lives. It is sin that separates people from God and stops us being friends with him. Christians believe that through Jesus’ death on the cross our sins can be forgiven – but Jesus reminds us that it’s important we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Temptations are things that come our way that can lead us into sin. Jesus teaches that when we pray it is important to ask for God’s help in overcoming temptation and protection from evil.
Over the years, Christians have added an ending to Jesus’ prayer that isn’t found in the Bible:
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.
In this way the prayer ends where it started: with our focus on God.