Prayer is an important tool in the life of a Christian. It connects us to God and allows us to communicate with Him. However, if we don’t understand the proper way to pray, we’re not likely to get answers from God. To hear from Him the way we need to, we must base our prayers on the finished works of Jesus Christ.
We no longer have to beg and plead for God to do what He has already done. Jesus radically changed prayer forever through His death and resurrection. Before the cross, the people prayed for God to bless them; after the cross, we can now thank Him for having blessed us in every area. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Religion can’t comprehend this, and still teaches old-covenant prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer, for example, is a beautiful prayer, but it’s based on the old, expired covenant of the law. Most people simply recite it without thinking; dissecting it reveals an Old Testament mindset. “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4). There’s nothing wrong with reciting the Lord’s Prayer, but we must pray it through the new-covenant lens of grace.
Christ taught this prayer before He went to the cross, when the Law of Moses was still in effect. There’s no use asking God for forgiveness when He has already forgiven us. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Neither will God lead us into temptation. The enemy is the one who does that; God has already made deliverance available to us. “Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:6).
When we pray, we must have complete confidence that we’ll receive what we ask for. Even a trace of doubt blocks us from receiving. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). This is the essence of faith-based prayer. Even if we don’t see the manifestations of what we prayed for right away, we continue to stand in faith and thank God for giving us what we asked.
Our motives are also important. God promises to give His children everything they ask for, but our requests must be made according to His will for us. Asking for selfish reasons produces no results. Letting the Holy Spirit work on us and shape our wills to line up with God’s will helps us ask for the right things. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26, NKJV).
Just like an earthly father, our heavenly Father wants to hear from us every day and answer our prayers. Believing that God has made available to us everything we’ll ever need in life makes it easy to thank Him for what He did. Using the Gospel of Grace as our guide when we pray maintains a two-way dialogue between Him and us.