Perhaps our first prayer should be,
Lord, teach us to pray.
You ask what is right or wrong with your prayer
practice. I am not the judge of that but I can set the counsel
commands of our Lord before you. His instructions are such that
acceptable prayer of the children of God, the disciples of Jesus,
differs much from the general practices of those whom Jesus called "the
hypocrites" and "the Gentiles."
 And when you pray, you must not be
like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues
and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say
to you, they have received their reward.
 But when you pray, go into your room
and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your
Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 And in praying do not heap up empty
phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for
their many words.
 Do not be like them, for your Father
knows what you need before you ask him.
 Pray then like this:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
 Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread;
 And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
 And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
 For if you forgive men their
trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
 but if you do not forgive men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
 Therefore I tell you, whatever you
ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
 And whenever you stand praying,
forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also
who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
Please give attention to the our Lord's primary points:
 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one
of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught
 And he said to them, When you pray,
say: "Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
 Give us each day our daily bread;
 and forgive us our sins, for we
ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into
 And he said to them, "Which of you
who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend,
lend me three loaves;
 for a friend of mine has arrived on a
journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
 and he will answer from within, `Do
not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in
bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
 I tell you, though he will not get up
and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his
importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
 And I tell you, Ask, and it will be
given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to
 For every one who asks receives, and
he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
 What father among you, if his son
asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
 or if he asks for an egg, will give
him a scorpion?
 If you then, who are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves
that they were righteous and despised others:
 Two men went up into the temple to
pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus
with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of
all that I get.'
 But the tax collector, standing far
off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast,
saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
 I tell you, this man went down to his
house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself
will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
 Whatever you ask in my name, I will
do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;
 if you ask anything in my name, I
will do it.
 If you love me, you will keep my
 And I will pray the Father, and he
will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,
 even the Spirit of truth, whom the
world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you
know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
1. When you pray, do so secretly, not publicly.
There are two other very important considerations:
2. Be brief. Do not "heap up empty phrases" or vain repetitions.
3. Ask in faith, believing.
4. Forgive others first.
5. Be humble. Ask as a little child of its loving father.
6. Ask only for the bread for "this day."
7. Ask in his name.
1. Thanksgiving is a separate topic. In
praying, we ask
to receive -- in thanksgiving, we give thanks for what we have
received. In the model "Lord's Prayer" there is no
pray for our daily bread; we give thanks when we receive it. Jesus gave
thanks to his Father on many occasions and he did so publicly.
True prayer is according to the instructions and example of
Prayer just for the sake of praying is vain. Would an earthly
be pleased with a child that was continually asking for this and that,
and that again and again? Would an earthly parent be pleased with
child that came asking habitually, or often, or repeatedly, or
2. The general petition, "Your kingdom
was fulfilled eternally when Jesus died at Calvary. Therefore,
this is now a matter for thanksgiving rather than prayer. One
should thank the Father for his kingdom on earth, not pray for it's
coming. It is ingratitude to repeat an answered
 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks
he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave
them to the crowds.
If there is something amiss with the picture you describe, you will
find it in the prayer instructions of our Lord. Ask him to teach
then be brief and listen.
In general, and in the light of the above, it is my belief that our
Father would have his children come to Him to hallow Him and to ask for
our needs for today. Praying habitually, at set times, or just
"feels like praying" is vain. Prayer is not what one does to get
a spiritual fix or a "feel good" experience.
Jesus said, in John 14:15 (above):
If you love me, you will
All prayer is vain when it comes from one who does not keep
commandments, and proves thereby that one does not love the Lord or the
Father! Everything that Jesus teaches about prayer is irrelevant
such a one. We go to the Father in prayer when we have a need for
something that only He can supply, not to show our devotion to
prove our devotion to him -- our love -- by keeping his
Prayer for the salvation of others is vain, because salvation rests on
the free and un coerced response of each individual, which the
Lord does not and will not control. We seek the salvation of
others by our personal witness and testimony. Jesus, our guide,
loved Jerusalem and its people, giving himself for them. There is
no record that he prayed for their salvation, yet he wept when they
rejected him and the Father's will for them, addressing them (not the
Father) and saying simply:
 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
killing the prophets and stoning those who are
sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as
a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!
The bottom line: Pray in secret, be brief, avoid vain repetitions, ask
only for today's needs and qualify oneself by obedience, faith,
forgiving others and humbling oneself. Remember that we are
little children going to a wise and loving Father when we pray.
Remember his word:
And I tell you, be asking, and it will be
given you; be seeking, and you will find; be knocking, and it will be
you. For every one who asks
he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Peace to you,