Question 136


What does prayer teach us?


Prayer teaches us that we must trust* God completely for His help.

For many years and in many places, Christians* have used the words of the Lord’s* Prayer to help them pray. In some places, people add a short sentence at the end of the prayer. ‘For yours is the kingdom* and the power and the glory* forever and ever. Amen.*’ Jesus did not say these words, but they do seem to fit many of the other things Jesus said.


People use the word ‘doxology’* to describe a phrase like this. A doxology is a psalm* or words of praise* that people use to honor* God. When Christians end their prayer this way, they are saying that God is King.[1] And he will be King forever and ever. As King, he has power to do all that he has promised.[2] And when he sets up his kingdom on this earth (and he will), all people will see his glory and honor him.


To pray this way helps us to remember why we know that God can be trusted. God knows all things, so he cannot be surprised. God has all power and no one and no thing, can stand against him and succeed. And God is good. He is a God of grace* and acts with kindness to his people. He is able to make all things work together in a way that moves his purposes forward. That is why we pray. That is why we should praise.


So, many Christians end the prayer as it began, with praise. Although prayer and praise are not the same thing, they go together. The more we know God, the more we trust him. The more we trust him, the more we pray. The more we pray, the more we will see our good God at work as he answers our prayers. The more we see God at work, the more reasons we have to praise him.


Remember that his disciples* asked Jesus* to teach them how to pray because they saw how much he prayed.[3] Some watched him as he prayed at his baptism.* They saw him rise early from sleep to pray. He prayed for the children as he blessed* them. He prayed before he healed people and after he healed people. Before he chose the twelve men who would follow him, he prayed all night. He prayed when he sent them out and prayed when they returned. They heard Jesus pray. And they saw God answer his prayers.


Jesus prayed because he loved the Father. But he also prayed to be an example to his followers. He prayed to show them how to worship the Father. He prayed to show them how to submit to the Father and depend on him. And he prayed so that they would know that the Father had sent him.[4]


Paul* says that, like Jesus, we should pray all of the time. We should talk to God about everything. We should pray all kinds of prayers. And we should always keep on praying.[6] When we do, Paul says that we will receive mercy.* We will find grace whenever we need help.[7]


God has an eternal* plan. He does many things to complete that plan. He does many of those things through our prayers. God does some things when we pray. And some things he will not do unless we pray.


So, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray. We are to give God praise. We are to confess* how we need him to keep us from sin.* We thank Him for all that he has done. And we ask him to meet all of our needs and the needs of other people too. He knows how to give good gifts to his children, and he will give them when we ask .[8]


It takes only one minute to say the Lord’s Prayer. But in that short time, it teaches us lessons that can guide us for the rest of our lives. God is our Father and is no longer our judge. The world is not what it is supposed to be. But God’s kingdom will soon make all things new. God owns all things and gives us everything that we need. God offers to forgive,* even when we do not deserve it and have done nothing to earn it. When God forgives us of our sins, he helps us to forgive other men and women when they do wrong things to us. Life is hard. Bad things sometimes happen. But God will keep us and deliver us when we trust him.

[1] Psalm 103:19
[2] Psalm 47; Psalm 93; Psalm 97; Psalm 145
[3] Luke 11:1
[4] Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Timothy 6:13-16; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 1:4-7
[5] Hebrews 2:17; Jude 24-25
[6] 1 Thessalonians 5:17
[7] Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 4:16
[8] Matthew 7:8-11; Luke 11:9-13