To really learn about prayer, you must pray. Take it seriously and carve out some time each day to pray. Jesus gave us a blueprint for prayer—use it that way. Begin by praying, “Our Father in heaven.” Let your mind focus on what it means to talk to the God of the universe as Father. Then pray to the Father about the Father. Pray about His person, “hallowed be Your name.” Pray about His program, “Your kingdom come.” And pray about His purpose, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Then pray to the Father about the family. Pray for provision, “Give us our daily bread.” Pray for pardon, “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” And pray for protection, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
If you let this prayer serve as your blueprint, you will discover that its elements have a purifying effect on what you pray for. You won’t be able to pray for things that would exalt your name, advance your kingdom, or promote your will. To ask for daily bread if you’re living in defiance would be like a traitor asking for strength to betray his country. You won’t be able to ask God to forgive you when you are not willing to forgive someone else. And to ask God for His protection from the evil one would be contradictory if you are cultivating temptations.
Prayer is hard work, but our communication with God is as essential to our spiritual well-being as breathing is to our physical life.