Jesus Taught Us How to Pray:
Matthew 6:5-8

Jesus Taught Us How to Pray
Part 1

by Trisha L. Knaul

What did God tell us about prayer?

If we want to know what God told us about prayer, we must listen to what Jesus—God the Son—told us. There are several passages where Jesus prayed, all of which give us examples of what and how God Himself modeled prayer for us. (We will explore those another time.) However, the gospels also record the times when Jesus actually taught his disciples about prayer. So, what did Jesus teach about prayer?

Matthew 6:5-8

We find Jesus’ first prayer teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, the longest sermon (or collection of teachings) by Jesus recorded in the Bible. It covers everything from adultery to fasting, from blessings to worry. This sermon also contains the longest recorded teaching on prayer. In the very middle of his sermon, Jesus taught the crowd:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:5-8)

We are expected to pray.

Jesus introduced his teaching on prayer by saying, “when you pray.” When, not if. We are expected to pray. It is not an option for those who follow Jesus Christ. Jesus did not command us to pray; he expected us to be praying. This passage is not a call to prayer. It is instruction (for those who should already be praying) on how to effectively pray.

We are to be real when we pray.

Jesus continued with a warning that we are “not to be like the hypocrites.” The Greek word for hypocrite was the same word used for an actor on a stage. A hypocrite was someone who played a part for the benefit of those watching—what others saw was not who they really were. The rewards for an actor were self-satisfaction and recognition.

Jesus told his followers not to pray in a way that sought or brought recognition for themselves. People who pray in such a way, will receive the same recognition as an actor—self-satisfaction and recognition. Sadly, that is the only reward they will receive. Although public prayer should be done, praying for the praise of men instead of for the glory of God results in nothing but the puffing up of our own pride. The only reward that prayer will receive is the momentary praise of men. We must be ever vigilant of the temptation to shift our focus from God to ourselves when we pray, especially in a group setting.

Prayer is between you and God–private.

How should we pray, then? “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” Unlike the hypocrite who is seeking recognition, we are to seek God. Most prayer should be between us and God alone—private. While I don’t want to minimize the importance of praying with others, it needs to be stressed that God wants alone time with us. Our prayers should always be about God, not ourselves.

Once we approach God with the right attitude, “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Seek God, not accolades from others. The best way to do that is to pray where others cannot see us. When we approach God in this way, God will reward us.

Right prayers are rewarded.

What will that reward be? When Jesus said that the hypocrite only receives the reward of men’s praise, the Greek word for reward is misthos. It is a reward “that appropriately compensates a particular decision (action).” ( In other words, they will get what’s coming to them, i.e. nothing but the momentary praise of men.

By contrast, when Jesus told us that God will reward the ones who pray in secret, the word for reward is apodidómi which means “to return, in relation to the source of the giving back.” ( The ones who pray for God (not for men’s praise) will receive in relationship to what they gives.  The ones who pray with the right attitude will be rewarded in relationship to the honor given to God—God will honor their prayers as they have honored Him.

God hears our prayers.

Jesus ended this teaching by cautioning us to consider our words carefully when praying. We cannot convince God to listen to us by “babbling like pagans.” God knows what we need (and want) before we even ask. We are to be confident that God hears us. Although there is a time to “not give up” (We will talk about that passage in part 4.), prayers are always to mean something. They are not to be mindless chatter. Prayers that only drone on and on and do not engage the heart and mind of the one praying are just gibberish. The key is personal engagement and relationship with God. He always hears and rewards real, heartfelt prayers offered in humility.

Things to think about:
    • How does it make you feel to know that God expects you to be praying?
    • If you have ever caught yourself acting when you pray, how did the realization affect you?
    • Describe your private place of prayer.
    • What rewards have you experienced through prayer?
    • Do you find comfort in the thought that you don’t need to use a lot of words when you pray?


Continue reading Jesus Taught Us How to Pray:
Part 2: Matthew 6:9-15
Part 3: Mark 11:22-25
Part 4: Luke 18:1-8
Part 5: Luke 18:9-14
Part 6: John 14:13-14
Part 7: Conclusion

Read the full article, here.

Visit here to enter the Project Prayer Giveaway.

Download all the Project Prayer extras here.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

What’s the Purpose?

Why? Why? But why? Why? Why? Why? Why? But why? Why?…

Anyone who has been around an inquisitive toddler has heard the continual questions of why that seem to go on and on and on. I think at times we sound that way to God, but thankfully God does not get tired or irritated by our questions. So, let’s ask the question why pray?

There are many explanations of why we should pray. A few of the reasons that we at Bible Study Journey came up with are because we are told to, to be in communication with God, it’s a privilege, to be imitators of Jesus, to be a part of God’s workings, to develop humility and to have power over evil. I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into the Bible to discover what God has to say about prayer. Please join me on this journey to discover why we pray.

Christians are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), faithfully (Romans 12:12), devoted (Colossians 4:2), to praying for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1)–even our enemies (Matthew 5:44)–and on all occasions (Ephesians 6:18). Does that seem overwhelming? Just take it slow and remember that learning new things and developing new habits takes time. With confidence I can say that God will bless you richly when you devote yourself to strengthening your prayer life.

I became devoted to prayer when I learned that Jesus himself prayed for us. It was early in my Christian walk during a women’s Bible study when we discussed John 17:20-25. In verses 24 and 25, Jesus said this prayer to God: 

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
      “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” 

If Jesus prayed for me, then why should I not pray for him and for God’s glory to shine above all?

If you are anything like me, you struggled at the thought of praying for everyone, all the time, and for those who attack us. That is where humility comes in as shown in Proverbs 11:2, “with humility comes wisdom” and in 22:4, “Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.” It is amazing when you humble yourself and truly pray in God’s will for goodness to those who have done you wrong. Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

I believe the most humbling reason to pray is to be a part of God’s plan. When I think of who in the Bible (outside of Jesus) brought glory to God by his actions and his prayers, I think of the Prophet Elijah (You can find his story in 1 Kings 17-18:14). Elijah stood up for his beliefs in God. He prayed for God’s interventions even when they would be tremendously hard to endure. I see a man who showed us that the Christian life is not always easy. He wavered from time to time, even trying to hide from God when he felt like a failure. Just because you profess to believe in God, it does not mean that all troubles will be washed away and life will be one happy party. However, if we stay dedicated, humble, and steadfast in prayer, we can find the joy in the trials of life. Better yet, we are a witness to others, and the family of God will grow.

God shared with Elijah how his life had affected the Kingdom of God in Romans 11:4, “and what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'” 7,000! WOW! Elijah had no clue that his life had such an impact and the same goes for us. We have no way to know how a stranger’s life is impacted by our own. Just think, if someone sees you be extraordinarily gracious during a time of trial where you give God the glory for being able to endure, they may share what they saw with someone else, who will share it with someone else, and so on and so on.

I invite you to download the printable prayer journal (here) and other resources (here) we have available. Use these to commit to increasing your love for communicating with God through devoted prayer. I will conclude with a prayer:

Dear Lord,
Your gracious love for us is unfathomable. You say you will not leave those who believe in you. You give a way through any and all trials we come across here on earth. For this I thank you. I pray that my selfish desires are extinguished by the living water that flows through me from your Holy Spirit. Please use my life to strengthen your kingdom. Thank you for not turning your back on me. I thank you for the hope that comes from believing in your promise of returning to earth to redeem the world. Until that time I will continue to praise your good works. I speak all of this in the precious name of Jesus,


Visit here to enter the Project Prayer Giveaway.

Download all the Project Prayer extras here.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Project Prayer Giveaway








Thanks to Bible Study Journey contributor and photographer, Cindy Snyder, we have 2 prizes to give away! Each prize will contain a set of 6 blank inspirational note cards and an 8″ x 10″ framed print, featuring Cindy’s beautiful photos and God’s Words (with a total prize value of $ 30 each).

The Project Prayer Giveaway will open on September 19, 2018, and will close on October 31, 2018 at 11:59 pm. Two people will receive one of the packages shown above.

For more details, terms and conditions, and to enter, visit Project Prayer Giveaway.

30 Day Prayer Challenge

We have created the 30 Day Prayer Challenge and the 30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal, because we wanted to provide you with tools to begin, help, or challenge you on your personal prayer journey. You can start the challenge at any time but plan to commit to 30 days of prayer.

Start by downloading the 30 Day Prayer Challenge (hereor use the 30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal (here) as a tangible guide and memento of your personal 30 days of prayer.

Each page of this journal includes quotes about the day’s theme, suggested music to listen to, and a passage of scripture to help you focus on the theme for the day, but feel free to use other verses (and record them). Then, we begin a prayer to get you started. What you pray about and how you do it are totally up to you.

You can use the journal as a place to write your prayers or to record your insights for each day or to create a visual prayer. If you need more room, you can easily download and print extra pages (here).

Unless you choose to share your journey with someone else, you will be the only one to see these pages. The prayers, insights, and visual prayers you record in the Journal are between you and God.

Regardless of whether or not you use the Journal, the 30 Day Prayer Challenge will help you to focus your daily prayer time on a particular topic and provide you with a 30 day prayer plan. You can use the Challenge for your own personal time or use it as a guide for yourself and a friend (or group of friends). Combine this Challenge with a reading of the blog posts during Project Prayer for an even deeper prayer journey. But, don’t stop there. Continue your prayer journey by going through the 30 Day Prayer Challenge more than once or using the Prayer Checklist (here) or by following your own method. Whatever you do, pray!

May you be richly blessed as you focus on prayer over the next 30 days!

We would  love to hear about your experience in the comments:
How did it work for you?
What did you find the most challenging part?
What was the best thing about your personal 30 days of prayer?

Links to downloads:
30 Day Prayer Challenge
30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal
30 Day Prayer Challenge Journal blank page
Prayer Checklist

Let’s Pray?

Prayer. What is it? What importance does it serve in our lives? Why pray? Does God even hear and answer our prayers anyway? I’m not that important. Why would God want me to talk to Him? How do I pray? Sometimes I don’t feel like my prayers go any higher than the ceiling. I tried praying once, but God didn’t give me what I asked for.

Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind? Have you ever questioned prayer? Have you ever made any of those statements?

We are so very excited to introduce you to a site-wide project on prayer. We will be exploring some of these questions and so much more. We will be exploring the prayers of Jesus, why pray, different prayer models, visual prayer, praying for those who minister, and more. There will even be a prayer challenge.

We are thankful to have you join this journey with us. Like any journey, it will be quite the adventure. Please feel free to share your questions on prayer and your answers to prayer as we take this journey together. We want to hear from you.

Our prayer for you is that, whether you are a prayer warrior, a casual pray-er, a novice in prayer or someone who questions whether prayer is a real thing, that you will grow in your prayer life. We pray that prayer will become a priority for you and that you will draw closer in your relationship to God.

Peter Deyneka, founder of Slavic Gospel Association, started the mission, ministered daily, and lived his life based on the concept of “Much Prayer, Much Power.” To this day (over 80 years later), this is still the basis of the ministry of SGA. Does prayer have this kind of impact in your life? Do people see you as a prayer warrior? Come, let’s go on this adventure together.

Finding Your Way with GPS

Are you a GPS user, or do you just figure out where you’re going on your own? In the 80’s when my siblings and I got our driver’s licenses, gasoline was pretty inexpensive. Living in a rural town, we would often go cruising for our entertainment. Just driving around with nowhere to go; just taking an adventure to see if you could find your way back. We always found our way home and had a blast exploring the countryside.

One of the funniest trips was years later though. My sister and I loved cable TV decorating shows and really enjoyed a local show called Decorating Cents. They had a segment called “Trash to Treasure,” where the host would go to a resale shop called Sticks and Stones in Minneapolis, MN.  My sister lived within in an hour of there, so one day we took a road trip to visit the store. At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, we thought, “Huh, how hard could it be to find?” Well…let me tell you.

She had one of the first-generation, dash-mounted GPS units so we thought it would be a piece of cake to find the store. If you ever tried to use one of these units, you know that they were not always the most accurate (to say the least). She followed its instructions to the T—turn left, turn right, continue forward; and before we know it, we found ourselves on a dead end street. Well, that was obviously the wrong path! So, we turned around and tried again.

Just about the time we’re thinking we might not find the place, we saw a library sign. We pulled over to hopefully look up resale shops in the yellow pages. I got out of the car and got the address—only to find out that we’d been close and didn’t even know it. We went just a bit further, and she said, “THAT’S IT!” She whipped into an off-street parking spot, I jumped out and went up to the door, only to see a sign that said, “CLOSED FOR THE MONTH OF JULY.” What?! NO WAY!!! You are kidding me! I got in the car, told my sister, and we cracked up! Only we would get into the car to go to a town of 350,000 people looking for a small resale shop having no idea where it was. We still laugh about it today.

Do you ever feel your life is like being on a road trip and you don’t know the destination or which way to go? God doesn’t give us a map with a big X showing us our full journey with road blocks, construction, and other obstacles clearly marked. How are we supposed to know what journey he wants us on? Does our path ever change? How do we get where he wants us?

May I suggest using GPS–God’s Provision Steering. Jesus has gone ahead of us and prepared all we need to arrive in the Glory of God. “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I can only know what God wants for me, if I am in communication with Him. We communicate with God by prayer and reading His word. I verify my understandings of what God is showing me by seeking counsel from biblically-sound pastors, elders, and siblings in Christ.

Our paths and purpose do change from time to time. It is rare that our journeys are on a single, long straight road with no turns, hills, valleys, or obstacles. For each season of our lives, we may have a different route and purpose. Each of these routes have something in common with the others. That commonality is our specific gifts that God has given us.

Each of us have been blessed with a gift or an ability that shines God’s presence through it. For me, it’s a passion for people, a great sense of joy and laughter, and a discerning eye. As I go through each day making decisions and interacting with others, I try to concentrate on living life for God, using my gifts to shine His grace through me. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

There have been many times in my life when I have not stayed on the path God had set before me. There were times I stopped going to church, stopped studying God’s word, and stopped engaging with other believers. At those times, I found myself struggling as if I was fighting with someone all the time. Each time I wandered, God so gently guided me back. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11) I didn’t always realize it as it was happening; but once back in his arms, I knew it was where I needed to be. It becomes easier to stay on the righteous path as I mature in my relationship with Christ. The temptations to live in the world that are all around us each day bring speed bumps, potholes, construction zones, and detours in our lives and break down our efforts to live in Christ publicly.

Just as you need to make sure your car has what it needs for a road trip, you need to make sure you have what it takes to endure life’s journey. We need to have the daily fuel of God’s word, using his GPS to find the path he has laid down before us. We need regular maintenance checks to make sure we are running as we were designed to. And, we need to make sure we are ready to be used at all times.

As I pondered the subject of life’s journey, I studied God’s word and found comfort in these truths:

• “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11)
• “My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.” (Proverbs 1:15)
• “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)
• “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and please to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
• “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)
• “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Where does your journey lead? Is it the path you are called to be on? Seek God, and you will find where you are to be. Set yourself on studying the Bible to see where God is leading you. If you need help in this, you can send us a message, seek counsel from elders or Pastors of your local church, talk with brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray. Let’s join together on a journey with God.

What are some verses you have found helpful as you try to follow God’s path for your life? Let us know in the comments below.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™