In his book What Jesus Demands from the World, author John Piper writes; “Jesus intends to create praying people.” This is one of His demands, that we be a people of prayer, and He spends a lot of time teaching us how to do so.
Here is a summary of this excellent chapter on prayer:
Why do we pray?
1. For the glory of God. John 14:13
Prayer is designed by God to display His fullness and our need. Prayer glorifies God because it puts us in the position of the thirsty and God in the position of the all-supplying fountain.
2. For our own joy. John 16:24
Everything [Jesus] taught was aimed to free us from eternal joy-killers and fill us with the only joy that lasts–joy in God.
How do we pray?
1. With simplicity. Matthew 6:7-8
The readiness of God to answer and His perfect knowledge of what we need before we ask means that we should be simple in our wording and reject anything like a repetitive mantra that would imply God is aroused by our monotonous incantations.
2. With perseverance. Luke 11:5 – 8
The point is not to finally break God’s resistance but to discover, by patient prayer, God’s wisdom as to the way and time the prayer should be answered. He is not disinclined to help His children and glorify His name. He simply knows better than we do when and how the answer should come. Therefore, our persistence in prayer shows both our confidence that God is our only hope and that he will act in the best way and the best time in response to our persistent pleas.
3. Through His death and in His name. Matthew 626:28, John 14:13
Without the death of Jesus, our sins would not be forgiven and the wrath of God would still be against us. In that condition we could expect no answers to prayer from God. Therefore, Jesus is the ground of all our prayers. This is why He taught us to pray in His name.
4. With faith. Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24
Praying in faith does not always mean being sure that the very thing we ask will happen. But it does mean that because of Jesus we trust God to hear us and help us in the way that seems best to Him.
5. Not for the praise of others. Matthew 6:5-6
It should be clear that the reward of prayer comes from God, not man. But Jesus shows us that the human heart is capable of turning the most beautifully Godward act in a manward direction and ruining it…Treasure God, and all that He will be for you, in prayer; but do not treasure the praise of man. And most of all do not turn a God-treasuring act of prayer into a man-treasuring act of hypocrisy.
For whom should we pray?
1. For ourselves because we are weak. Matthew 6:9
2. For the other followers of Jesus and for the world. No one should be excluded from our prayers. Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:28
What should we pray? Matthew 6:9-13
1. That we would reverence and cherish the name of God above all things.
2. That God’s saving, purifying, Jesus-exalting rule would hold sway in our lives and would finally come in universal manifestation and extent.
3. That we would do the will of God without hesitation and full of zeal and thoroughness.
4. For the practical provisions of body and mind that make an earthly life of obedience possible.
5. For forgiveness for our daily failures to honor God as we ought.
6. That God would protect us from the evil one and from the temptations that would bring us to ruin and weaken our witness for Him.