Mailbag, Prayer

The Mailbag: Potpourri (“Prayers” from pagans… “Good” pride… Laying on of hands)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.

What do we do when a non-Christian (or a “Christian” who really isn’t, or someone from another faith) offers their prayers to you in times of need or trial? My husband recently had surgery, and he got good luck money from a Buddhist, prayer from a Catholic/New Ager (who also told her friends to send “their angels” to him). What should we say or do in these instances?

It is a blessing to have caring people in your life, even if they are pagans. Say a prayer of thanksgiving to God that He has placed them in your path so that you might have an opportunity to demonstrate your care for them by sharing the gospel with them. This is one of the purposes of our suffering – to point to our Savior and sustainer, Jesus.

I’m not familiar with “good luck money” but I’m assuming it’s not just, “Here, I want to help with your medical bills,” but rather has some sort of spiritual significance in Buddhism.

When Mr. Buddhist comes to the hospital to visit, hands you an envelope with cash in it, and says, “This money has been specially blessed by the Dalai Lama to bring you good luck for your surgery,” (or whatever the case may be) you could say, “Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity, Mr. B, but I’m afraid God would not be pleased for me to accept this.”. When Mr. B asks why (or if he doesn’t: “May I explain why?”), it’s a perfect opening to explain that you worship the only true God of the universe and that He will have no other gods before or besides Him… and then you’re off to the races with sharing the gospel.

When the Catholic / New Ager offers to pray for you, just turn the tables, “That’s so kind of you to offer, Cath, but would you mind if I pray for you instead?” And then don’t give her a chance to answer. Just start praying. When you’ve finished, depending on which way the wind is blowing, you could launch right into a gospel presentation, or an immediate change of subject (…amen. It was so good of you to come visit, Cath. How’s your daughter doing? I heard she’s about to graduate high school. What are her plans after graduation?)

Sometimes, doing something unexpected like that knocks people off their game enough that you can kindly and lovingly shift the interaction in a direction that alleviates awkwardness and is more pleasing to God.

My question is about pride. Why are we proud (of our children, our country, our jobs well done, etc.) when pride is a sin? If you are going to tell me there is such a thing as “good pride,” please follow with where good pride came from.

I’ve tried to stop saying I’m proud of my children, by saying other things like, “You make my heart happy,” “I’m so glad you’re my son (or daughter),” etc.

Yes, I’ve asked my husband, my pastor, my previous pastor, a like-minded friend and done my own research- I have not found, nor been given, an answer. Can you please clear this up?

Wow, it sounds like you’ve been studying on this a good bit. That’s great! When we have questions like this, we should always go to our Bibles and, if possible, seek counsel from our husbands and pastors.

Even as Christians, we often misunderstand and mislabel our emotions. There is no such thing as “good pride” because the Bible’s definition of pride is much narrower than all of the things the word “pride” covers in the common vernacular.

If you will look up the words pride and proud in Scripture (particularly in Psalms and Proverbs) and begin reading the verses that contain those words as well as the surrounding context, you’ll start to get a better feel for the way the Bible, rather than the world, defines pride. You’ll see the words “pride” and “proud” mostly paired with, and surrounded by words like “arrogant,” “haughty,” “pompous,” “boasting,” and pride as opposed to humility.

As you’re looking at verses containing the words “pride” and “proud,” you’ll come across the stories of some folks who show us what it means to be prideful, but I can’t think of two better examples than Nebuchadnezzar (see v. 30) and Herod (see 22-23), so be sure to read those.

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Psalm 10:4

This is the sin of pride. It is the boastful arrogance – whether expressed outwardly or cherished in the heart – that says, “I did this grand and glorious thing myself. It redounds to my glory. Look at me. Look at ME! I didn’t need God to do this thing, and I don’t need Him now.”

Non-Christians might look at their careers, and maybe even their children that way, but Christians don’t. Christians know that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father. We know, better than anyone else on the planet, that we are nothing without Him, and that we can do nothing without Him. We can’t even cause our own hearts to beat! The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.

So when you look at your kid, if you feel pride – the way the Bible describes it – you’d better repent before you end up like Nebuchadnezzar or Herod. But, I’m guessing that’s not what you feel. I’m guessing you feel just like I do when I look at my kids: a white hot, God-given love that would propel you barefoot over hot coals for them, a heart that is bursting with joy, and undying gratitude and humility that the God of the universe would graciously give you – one so undeserving – a child who is pleasing.

That’s not pride. That’s the opposite of pride.

And, yeah, maybe we should lose, “I’m so proud of you!” for “I’m so grateful to God for you!”.

We had a ladies’ fellowship weeks ago. One of our sisters was going to the hospital to have a procedure and our leader asked us to gather to pray and lay hands on her.

I’m ok with praying, but the laying on of the hands triggered in me an awkward feeling since I was part of the charismatic movement many years ago and that was a common practice. However, I also read in the Bible that the LORD and the apostles laid hands on people although maybe the context was different. It may not be an unbiblical practice and I’m just being too reactive to it. Do you have any thoughts or comments on that?

I can certainly understand why that triggered you, considering your background.

In charismatic / NAR circles the laying on of hands is typically to bestow some sort of supernatural “impartation” – of healing, imbuing someone with a “prophetic mantle,” or “gift of the Spirit,” conferring a position of leadership onto someone, using a person as a touch point to receive a “word of knowledge” about her, etc. They got this (and twisted it) from the passages of Scripture that mention Jesus and others laying their hands on people to heal, confer the Holy Spirit, and so on.

Naturally, if the Lord has saved you out of that hot mess of heresy, you don’t want to see anything remotely like it in your new, doctrinally sound church.

In doctrinally sound churches, the laying on of hands and praying for someone was, at one time, usually reserved for ordination-type ceremonies. One of the practices in the many deacon ordinations I’ve attended has been for the pastor to call upon all the ordained men attending the service to lay hands upon the deacon candidate and pray for him (not confer anything upon him). Sometimes this will be a small group of men who will surround him, lay hands on him, and pray together. I’ve also been to ordination services where there was a line of ordained men wrapped around the perimeter of the sanctuary, and each one took his turn laying hands on, and praying individually, for each deacon candidate. It’s very sobering and very special.

I think this practice, combined with the spirit of James 5:14, is how, in the doctrinally sound church, we sort of morphed into small groups laying hands on the sick or others as we pray for them. In that context, there’s certainly nothing biblically wrong with it. I’ve taken part in praying for people this way, and I’ve been prayed for this way, too. (Honestly, it usually turns into more of a group hug and you have to be careful not to smother the person being prayed for!).

Laying hands on someone isn’t necessary and it doesn’t make your prayers any more efficacious. It just creates an atmosphere of unity in prayer and makes the person being prayed for feel that she’s surrounded by brothers and sisters who love her and are interceding for her (because she is, quite literally). If you’re uncomfortable participating, you don’t have to, but as you grow in Christ and begin growing out of those old triggers, you may change your mind one day.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.


Praying Scripture

Could you use a little change up in your prayer routine?

Sometimes, when I’ve been praying for months on end about certain situations – a loved one’s salvation, a stagnant circumstance that just won’t resolve itself, a need that God hasn’t yet provided – I feel like my daily time of prayer is stuck in a rut. Like I’m praying all the exact same things every day.

That doesn’t bother God, of course, and we are to be persistent and fervent with our requests, but every now and then I need a break from petitioning to focus on another aspect of prayer. And one of the ways I like to do that is to pray Scripture back to God.

Occasionally, I’ll sit down with my Bible and pray through a Psalm, but I usually have my prayer time while I’m out walking, so I have to rely on the Scriptures that are hidden in my heart. I was praying this way the other day, and it occurred to me that maybe you’d like to pray Scripture too. So I thought I’d share with you some of the Scriptures I pray and how I pray them.

and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:10

Lord, help me today to discern what is pleasing to You, and do it.


Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3

Father, help me to keep my mouth shut when it needs to be shut, and to speak up when I need to speak up.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Let everything I think, say, and do bring  honor and glory to You.


But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Please show me how to obey your Word, Lord, not just hear it.


Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

Father, would you please answer Jesus’ prayer to sanctify me in the truth of Your Word.


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12

Please cleanse me and forgive me for my sin, and give me a fresh start with a clean heart and a right spirit. Thank You that because of the blood of Christ and the seal of the Holy Spirit, You will never cast me out or take Your Spirit from me. Thank You for giving me back the joy of unhindered fellowship with You.


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Proverbs 4:7

Father thank You that You generously give wisdom to those who ask. Please give me wisdom and help me to pursue wisdom and understanding.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

Lord, help me to trust You with all my heart – over and above what I can see with my eyes and understand with my mind. Let everything I think, say, and do bring glory and honor to You. Smooth my path before me. Let me not trust in my own wisdom and understanding, but grow in me a godly fear of You that turns me away from evil.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Father, remind me that my life is a vapor. Help me to honor You with my time and steward my time well. Help me to get everything done today that You want me to get done.


O Lord, you have searched me and known me! Psalm 139:1

Thank You that You know me inside and out. That I can come to You in prayer, and I don’t have to explain everything, and make sure You understand correctly, because You already know. That You know everything about me and You still choose to love me.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Thank You for creating me. I stand in awe at the magnificence of Your creation in the human body: You can read every strand of DNA in my body. You not only understand the difference between meiosis and mitosis (which I was never able to master in biology class), You created each of those processes. You keep my heart beating, my cells reproducing, my lungs filled with air, my synapses synapsing.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24

Examine my heart, God, and whatever is in me that is displeasing to You, get rid of it.


but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die for me while I was still Your enemy. Thank You, Jesus for being willing to die for me, a sinner. Thank You for turning me from Your enemy into Your friend.


In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, Ephesians 1:4b-5

Lord, I will never understand why You would choose someone like me to be Your child, because there is nothing good in me, but I’m so glad and so grateful that You did.


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Father, thank You that You are smarter than I am, that You know the best way to handle every situation, and that You are powerful enough to work everything out for Your glory and my good. Thank You for the comfort and rest it brings me to know that You have everything under control.


Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Lord, help me to truly delight myself in You- so much so that You are putting Your desires into my heart. I want to want what You want.


So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13

God, thank You that You see me – that You haven’t forgotten or forsaken me. Thank You that You are a God who sees and rewards our good works done in secret. Thank You that because You are a God of seeing, there are no unsolved crimes or unpunished evil with You. Nothing escapes Your notice, and no one gets away with anything. Thank You that when earthly justice systems fail, You bring ultimate justice. Thank You that You will one day vindicate Your servants.


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1, 3b-4

Lord God, thank You that the sin, pain, and separation of this life is temporary. Thank You that one day You will make everything right. Thank You that, through Christ, You have made a way for me to live with You forever.


As you’re choosing Scriptures to pray back to God, it’s a good idea to study those passages in context and make sure you’re understanding and handling His Word correctly as you pray. Claiming biblical promises that don’t apply to you, for example, will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. And you certainly don’t need that standing in the way of your prayer time or hindering your fellowship with the Lord.

If your prayer life needs a breath of fresh air, I encourage you to try praying God’s own words back to Him. There’s no better way to be sure your prayer is pleasing to Him and that you’re praying within His will.

What are some of your favorite
Scriptures to pray back to God?

Politics, Prayer

Throwback Thursday ~ A Prayer for the President

Note- this article was originally published on Inauguration Day 2009, when President Obama was sworn into office. God desires that we pray for our President no matter who he is, so these principles still apply today to our current President. FYI- Political comments, and comments idolizing or demonizing President Trump will not be published.
Please pour your energy into praying for him instead.

Originally published January 20, 2009

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. I Timothy 2:1-4

Today, we, the people of the United States, will inaugurate a new President. As President Obama begins his tenure in the White House, God desires that we pray for him.

Pray for the President’s salvation- No one knows our hearts except God alone, but knowing how narrow the way is that leads to salvation (Matthew 7:13-14) and taking into consideration the President’s words and actions, it seems likely that he is not saved. Our burden for his salvation should be two-fold, first, for his own soul and the salvation of his family, and second, that his salvation will enable him to be a Godly leader.

Pray for the President’s, and his family’s, safety and protection- His wife needs her husband, those two little girls need their daddy, and our nation needs a leader.

Pray that God will help the President to be a godly husband and father- The presidency is a job that leaves little time for anything or anyone else. Pray that the President will have the time to spend with his family, leading them to godliness.

Pray that God will surround the President with wise and godly counsel- Proverbs 1:5 says: “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel”.

Pray that God will direct the President’s decisions- Proverbs 21:1 tells us: “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Pray that, whatever the actions of the President, the gospel will spread and we will become a more godly nation- “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

May God bless our new President, and may God bless the United States of America.

Mailbag, Prayer

The Mailbag: Help! Our ladies’ prayer meeting is a disaster!

I am married to a pastor of a small SBC church. Every Sunday evening I have a 30-minute prayer time for the ladies of the church. It feels like a disaster! Women ramble on and on with “prayer requests” that really seem to be either gossip or current news events. When it comes time to actually pray, I’m the one who is praying and everyone else is completely silent. Recently, the women were so out of control with talking that they didn’t even notice when I said it was time to pray, so I canceled the prayer meeting until further notice.

I know praying together as sisters couldn’t be a bad thing, but what do I do if it seems like no one else is actually praying? Am I giving up too soon? And just to be clear I’ve tried different “formulas” for the meeting (having specific scriptures that we pray, having a specific theme for the prayer, etc.).

Oh dear sister, I’m so sorry for your frustration! I have led a few ladies’ prayer groups myself, and I know it isn’t easy. If I could offer you one word of encouragement, though – your ladies are showing up! One of my dilemmas was having ladies who didn’t see prayer as important enough to even come to a prayer meeting. You’ve got them there – that’s a huge hurdle that’s out of your way.

But once you’ve got them there, what do you do with this gaggle of gals? Let’s see if we can figure that out together.

A few things I’m surmising from your e-mail:

First, I’m guessing you’re a sweet, younger lady and that at least some of the ladies in your group are 10+ years older than you are. (Even if I’m wrong, I’m going to go with this for a minute because there are probably some ladies reading this who are in that dynamic.)

Trying to lead ladies who are older than you are can be intimidating, especially when you have the added pressure of your husband being the pastor – you want to reflect well upon him and not be the cause of any issues he would have to deal with. If your personality is very easy going and less assertive, that’s going to add to the challenge and result in things like the ladies ignoring you when you say it’s time to start praying.

Another dynamic that’s probably affecting your group is that at least some of the ladies are there mainly because you’re the pastor’s wife, and they either feel a sense of duty to be there or they want to support you with their presence because they love you, or both. Neither of which are bad things, because it’s getting them to show up (and, hey, a little love and support never hurts, right?). But it may mean that prayer isn’t the primary reason some of them are there.

The way you describe the ladies’ talking, behavior, and “prayer requests” leads me to believe that they probably don’t know how to pray in a corporate prayer meeting, especially one that’s not an “organ recital” (all the prayer requests revolve around people who are sick, having surgery, etc.). Sadly, this is pretty typical for SBC churches in my experience.

The extensive conversing may also signal that these ladies are starved for meaningful fellowship with one another.

So taking all of that into consideration, here are a few thoughts I had:

🙏 I think taking a hiatus was a good idea. It will give you time to regroup and reorganize your approach. My counsel would be that as long as you have ladies who are willing to attend, it’s too soon to give up (assuming, of course, that your husband is in agreement with that).

🙏 Set aside a block of time to talk this through with your husband and ask his advice. Just by virtue of being a man, he has a different perspective than you do, and probably has some helpful ideas and suggestions. As your pastor, he likely has additional insight on the ladies in your group, as well as some leadership strategies and experiences that could be beneficial to you.

🙏 When you start the group up again, you might want to consider, if it’s possible, having your husband lead for a couple of months. It’s just a fact of life that people act differently around pastors than they do around others. My guess is that your ladies will sit quietly and attentively for your husband. If you can develop that habit in them over the course of a couple of months, it will be easier for you to step in with more confidence and assertiveness when you resume leading the group.

🙏 Find an older godly lady who has experience teaching and leading women’s classes and ask her to mentor you. 

🙏 If that older godly lady is one of your church members, and you and she are both willing, maybe it would work for her to lead the group for, say, six months to a year while you attend as a participant. That could be helpful in two ways: a) You could learn by observing her leadership, and, b) You could model for the other ladies what it should look like to be a participant in this group, and they could learn from your example.

🙏 It sounds like these ladies need to be discipled regarding what prayer is and how to do it. Instead of immediately diving back into praying when you start the group back up, consider taking a few months to study prayer together first. You’re welcome to use any of my articles on prayer (I’d recommend this one and this one in particular.) And be sure to check the bookstores at GTY and Ligonier.

🙏 It also sounds like your ladies need more structure and guidance. One thing you might want to do is dispense with the verbal sharing of prayer requests as it’s traditionally done and restructure that aspect of the meeting. There are several different ways you can do this:

⇒ You decide the prayer focus (praying for the lost, missionaries, revival, an upcoming church event, etc.) for each week. Write down specific things to pray for – nearly verbatim, if you have to – on an index card or piece of paper and hand one to each lady as she comes in. For example, if you’re praying for missionaries, give the name of the missionary and a few needs he has.

⇒ Homework assignments. At the end of each meeting, tell the ladies what the prayer focus will be for the next week, give each one a card with a different aspect of that topic, ask her to be praying about it during the week and to come prepared to pray aloud about it at the next meeting. For example, if you’re going to be praying about VBS next week, the cards might say things like leaders, teachers, students, gospel presentation, safety, etc.

⇒ “Conversation prayer“. This works really well with children and people who are inexperienced with corporate prayer. Basically, what you’re doing is replacing prayer request time with praying for the request as it’s mentioned. You open with a brief prayer. After that, the floor is open for anyone to pray about anything they would ordinarily have mentioned as a prayer request. The only catch is, they have to keep it to three sentences, max (You’ll want to stress this rule and remind them of it often). This keeps the prayer time from being dominated by long-winded people, and it introduces an idea others can build on in prayer which encourages more people to participate. Additionally, it takes the pressure off of those who are nervous about praying out loud. For example, one person might pray, “Lord, please comfort and strengthen Sally in the death of her husband,” which might prompt the next person to pray, “Please provide for her material needs now that she’s without George’s income,” and the next: “Please show us ways we can minister to Sally.” There are going to be long silences at first. That’s OK. Wait it out. When it’s time to wrap up, you lead the closing prayer.

⇒ Guided conversation prayer. Same as conversation prayer, but more structured. You choose a few areas of prayer focus and let the ladies know what they are before the prayer time begins. Open in prayer, introducing the first topic. The floor is now open for anyone to pray up to three sentences on that topic (and, of course, people can pray more than once if they want to, but only three sentences at a time). When it’s time to move on, announce the next topic or pray a brief prayer introducing it.

⇒ Small group prayer. If you have enough people, break them into groups of 2-4, and assign each group a topic to pray about. When the groups start getting quiet, hand them another topic to pray about. (Be sure you’re giving them plenty of time to pray, though. I’ve been in prayer meetings using this method where the leader hops from one topic to the next so fast that the first person in the group doesn’t even finish praying before the topic is changed.) For a 30 minute meeting and groups of 2-4, I’d recommend no more than 3-4 topics for each group.

🙏 If you think lack of fellowship might be a factor in the ladies’ behavior, there is nothing wrong with making the last “prayer meeting” of each month a low key fellowship – a “three weeks on, one week off” kind of thing – where they have the unprogrammed space to just sit and talk (and snack – gotta have snacks!). Fellowship is vital to the life of the church, and, believe me, as they get to know each other better and bear one another’s burdens, they will bring more things to the table to pray about during the three weeks of prayer meetings.

🙏 Most importantly, you pray. Pray for patience and confidence as you lead. Pray for each of the ladies in your group. Pray that God will grow them in maturity in prayer. Pray that He will help everyone stay focused. Pray that those who are timid will be emboldened and that God will rein in those who have a tendency to dominate. Prayer is an area of spiritual growth, and only God can produce that growth. Ask Him to.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Prayer, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ After This Manner Therefore Pray

Originally published March 29, 2015manner-pray-e1432429425730

Prayer. It seems so simple- just talk to God. But when it’s time to actually do it, there can be a million questions. What should I pray about? How long should I pray? Do I have to say “Thee” and “Thou”? Eyes opened or closed? Do I have to be on my knees? Should I speak aloud or pray silently?

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The disciples lived with Jesus. Heard Him pray. Watched Him pray. And they still had to ask Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus graciously answered their request with what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Model Prayer.” There’s one version of it in Luke where Jesus teaches the disciples personally, and another, expanded version in Matthew 6:9-13 in the Sermon on the Mount, the version we’ll be looking at today.

Even after all these years, and after hundreds of books and sermons on prayer, Jesus’ simple teaching is still the best way to make sure we’re “doing prayer right.” When we submit the way we pray to His instruction, we can be sure we’re praying the way He wants us to pray. So how can we follow the Lord’s Prayer in our own prayer lives? Let’s take a look.

Pray then like this:

This may not seem like a very important phrase – after all, it’s not even in the body of the Lord’s Prayer – but it’s actually vital to our understanding of modeling our prayers after the Lord’s Prayer. Notice Jesus didn’t say, “repeat after Me” or “recite these exact words.” He said “pray like this.” The NASB renders this phrase as, “Pray, then, in this way.” KJV says, “After this manner therefore pray.” And the NIV has, “This, then, is how you should pray.”

The point? Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer as an outline for prayer or as a sample prayer, not a specific set of words to recite every time you pray. While it’s fine to sincerely pray – and mean – the exact words of the Lord’s Prayer, we must guard against the “vain repetition” of “empty phrases” Jesus had warned the disciples about just two verses earlier. Mindlessly rattling off the words of the Lord’s Prayer out of habit or so you can check prayer off your daily “to do” list is not prayer. Instead, try using each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer as a guide to how you should approach Him in prayer.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Take some time to worship God and praise Him just for being Him. Contemplate how high and holy He is and how lowly you are in comparison. Think about, and thank Him for some of His attributes that we find in Scripture- His goodness, justice, compassion, omnipotence, wrath, mercy, and grace. You might even want to sing a hymn or song – like “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “God Is So Good” –  that focuses on God’s holiness or other attributes.

Your kingdom come,

Do you long for Christ to return? It’s OK to tell Him that and to take some time to focus on the joy that will be ours in eternity. Christ is coming back (hopefully today!) to gather His people, weary of this sin sick world, to Himself. But remember, He will ONLY be taking people who know Him as Savior and Lord. Is there someone you need to share the gospel with? Someone you desperately desire to see saved? This is a great time to pray for that person and ask God to give you the opportunity, and the right words, to share with her.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

In Heaven, God is always glorified, always praised, and always obeyed. Wouldn’t it be great if that were the case on earth? Well, it’s not, because of sin. Is there an area of obedience you’re struggling with? Ask God to help you with it. Pray that God will help your children to be obedient to you and your husband. Pray that God will strengthen your husband’s obedience to Him in his areas of weakness. Pray that your loved ones, boss, and elected officials will make the decisions God wants them to make. Ask God to guide your pastor, elders, and church members, and pray that they will be obedient to His word and His leading.

Give us this day our daily bread,

Here, we recognize and thank God that He is our provider. Even the smallest things in life, like a simple loaf of bread, only come to us because God provides them. He wants us to put our trust in Him, not a paycheck, for our needs. A great passage to go along with this verse is Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God doesn’t want us to worry about the things we need. He wants us to trust Him. When we take our needs to Him in prayer, we are declaring our trust in Him to take care of us – in His way and in His time – and that is where our peace comes from.

Notice, too, the words “this day” and “daily” in this verse. They show us that prayer is an all day, every day affair. God wants us to keep coming back to Him in prayer again and again. It helps us recognize our dependence on Him.

These words also help us to focus our prayers on what we need today. It’s OK to pray about future events, but sometimes focusing on future “what ifs” can tempt us to worry, and, as Jesus says later in Matthew 6, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (34)

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Repentance time. Did you notice that this verse (12) is the culmination of a sentence that began in the previous verse (11)?  “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us…” Repentance for our sin and asking God to forgive us is also also an all day, every day affair. But, praise God, so is His mercy to forgive! Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Take this time to confess your sin and ask God to cleanse you and forgive you. And be sure to ask Him to show you any bitterness you may be harboring in your heart against someone. Forgive that person and ask God to help you make things right with her. Consider the magnitude of your sin against God. If God has forgiven you of your sin against Him, who are you to hold a grudge against someone who has sinned against you?

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Sin. It’s always lurking around just waiting to ensnare us again, isn’t it? Think about the sins you struggle with. Ask God to show if there are any changes you can make in your life to stay away from temptation to those sins. Pray that He will strengthen you to be obedient to Him when you can’t avoid tempting circumstances, and ask Him to show you the godly way out of every situation, which He has promised to provide. Pray for God’s protection from evil people or circumstances and ask Him to protect your family and  church.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The KJV includes this phrase at the end of the Lord’s prayer, but it isn’t in the earliest and most reliable biblical manuscripts (from which modern versions such as the ESV are translated). But since its meaning and intent is thoroughly supported by other Scriptures, there’s certainly no harm in including it as part of the model for your prayer time.

Acknowledge and thank God for His sovereignty over all things, His power, His glory, and His eteranlity. Ask Him to help you live in such a way that others will see these attributes of His. Submit yourself to Christ and pray that God will help you to follow Him humbly and honorably.


Eyes open or closed? On our knees or not? Jesus didn’t address those kinds of things, so we have a certain amount of liberty in those secondary issues. Jesus’ desire is that we stay in constant communion with Him in prayer, humbly honoring Him, praising Him, thanking Him, repenting of sin, and depending on Him for our every need. So, let’s pray then, like this.

This article was originally published at SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.