Read Matthew 6:5-8 and Galatians 4:4-7
“And when you pray…” Matthew 6:5
Prayer is as old as mankind. It started in the Garden with Adam and Eve. And ever since, prayer has played a prominent role in the human experience. Praying is simply part of being human.
Think about it. There’s something inside of you that tells you to cry out to God in times of trouble. There is something inside that moves you to thank him for your many blessings and to ask him to fulfill your desires.
And so you do. This is true for people from every walk of life and every belief system. Everyone prays. It is a practice we share universally.
So, as far as the Bible is concerned, it’s not “if you pray.” It’s “when you pray.” But as Jesus pointed out to his disciples in Matthew 6, “when you pray” for believers looks different than the prayers offered up within other belief systems. And it starts with the person to whom you pray.
To the believer, God is not the “big man upstairs,” or an angry judge, or a mean ogre. Nor is he someone you must appease. No, he is your heavenly Father. And you know him as such because you have been born of God and God has sent His Spirit into your heart. So, when you pray, you cry out “Abba” Father. And crying out to God as your Father changes everything about prayer.
It makes prayer personal. What was once maybe nothing more than a religious ritual to you or something you did to be noticed by others is now an intimate conversation with your Father – a conversation anchored by the truth that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
You also know your Father cares for you. He is interested and concerned and already has his ear in your direction. You don’t have to beg and plead to get him to pay attention. That’s what the pagans do. But you don’t pray like the pagans do, because you know that he “knows what you need before you ask him.”
So when you pray, pray to your Father, the one who loves and cares for you. It’s your privilege as his child.