It is in Matthew 6:5-15 that Jesus the Christ teaches us both how to pray and how to forgive.
“When you are praying, do not behave like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray in synagogues or on street corners in order to be noticed. I give you my word, they are already repaid. Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees what no man sees, will repay you. In praying, do not rattle on like the pagans. They think they will win a hearing by the sheer multiplication of words. Do not imitate them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive the faults of others,
your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive you.”
I highlighted the line, “your Father, who sees what no man sees, will repay you,” because today so much of what is done in Jesus’ name is done for public consumption. It’s performed in public squares, houses of worship, and on TV. But what really matters is what is done from the heart only before the Father. And so Jesus tells us, don’t behave like hypocrites, don’t imitate pagans — pray in the privacy of your room, in the privacy of your heart. The Father, who sees what no man sees, will not only hear you but will repay you for your faith. And in your petitions of prayer, he knows before you utter a word what you need. That’s the how of prayer.
In Jesus’ very beautiful prayer, he includes not just a way to praise the Father, and not just a way to petition the Father, but also a way to ask for forgiveness and deliverance. After the prayer, Jesus then teaches us about the process of forgiveness. It’s one thing to ask for forgiveness, but it’s quite another to recognize the need to also forgive. If you are going to seek forgiveness you need to forgive also, and the Father, who sees what no man sees, will repay you in kind. Through prayer, Jesus gives us a way to acknowledge both.
Love God. Acknowledge and petition Him in the private room of your heart. And forgive others just as you seek God’s forgiveness. God knows even before you ask what you need.