Teach me to pray

Don't you read passages such as
 I John 5:14-15 (And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15and we know that if he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him) and
 James 5:16 (The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working) 
and wish you could pray with confidence that you would see results?  Me too! 

Well, we can.  I believe we can experience the joy of seeing extraordinary things accomplished through prayer.  I also believe that the longing for such is from the Lord.  Just as the disciples asked Jesus in Luke 11:1, "Lord, teach us to pray", we, too, can go to Him and be instructed.  The prayer in Matthew 6 is the set of instructions He gave us.  Elsewhere in Scripture we have other guidance for our prayers but here we have a collection of sentences that provide an outline of topics for us.  The rabbis of Jesus's day gave their followers a set of brief sentences or "index prayers" that suggested the subjects they should pray.  So we will use this guide to learn "an effective prayer that will avail much" (James 5:16 in King James English)

The very first phrase "Our Father who art in Heaven" is where we begin. Jesus wants us to be assured that we are coming to One who loves us, provides for us, knows us, delights in us...and beckons us to come.  We are not approaching a distant sovereign whom we have to beg from, or convince against his will.  No, we are invited to ask with the confidence of a child coming to his father, knowing that his father not only possesses the resources with which to grant his request but also deeply desires to share his abundance.

Maybe the word "father" doesn't hold good meaning for you.  Maybe you have painful memories or an empty place in your heart that should be filled by a loving Daddy.  That makes me so sad.  I am so sorry if that is your story.  Please hear me when I say that your Heavenly Father is not distant or negligent or abusive or cold.  Don't let an earthly failure eclipse your view of Him.  HE is the model all other fathers should follow.  Not a projection of someone who hurt you or failed you.  You can come to your HEAVENLY FATHER with utmost confidence that He is drawing you to Himself, that He delights in you and desires to have the most intimate relationship with you.  And your Heavenly Father is pleased to give good gifts to His children. 

First thing to know in our school of prayer -- God is our Heavenly Father.  And "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who see Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Our Father who art in Heaven.  Amen.