What Prayer Is and Isn’t

by Dwayne Moore

An excerpt from Dwayne Moore’s Book “HE. WE. THEY.”

What Prayer Is Not

Before Jesus demonstrated to his disciples how we should pray, he first

warned of some things we shouldn’t do. Matthew 6 starts with instructions

from the Lord that are clear and to the point: “Beware of practicing your

righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then9

you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (ESV).

He went on to say that we shouldn’t pray “like the hypocrites who love

to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone

can see them” (verse 5 NLT). Furthermore, we shouldn’t “babble on and

on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered

merely by repeating their words again and again” (verse 7 NLT). Prayers

that honor God don’t need to be showy and they don’t need to be lengthy

mantras. God already knows our thoughts and sees our needs.

What Prayer Should Be


Please read Luke 18:9-13. Why do you think Jesus chose this story

to illustrate humility? Based on this passage, how important is humility in

prayer, and why?

E.M. Bounds writes, “As a ship is made for the sea, so prayer is made

for humility, and so humility is made for prayer.”10 Humility in prayer is

vital because “God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (1 Peter

5:5b NLT).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples, “But when you

pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your

Father in private” (Matthew 6:6a NLT). Jesus knew that only people who

are serious about prayer would hide themselves away where no one could

see them or pat them on the back for praying. Jesus basically drew a line

in the sand. He separated those who truly want to pray to God from those

who may have ulterior motives for their prayers.


It’s been said, “Good things come in small packages,” and nothing

could be truer of the Model Prayer. Not even 70 words long, yet it sets the

standard for all the prayers in God’s Word and all prayers of the Christian


The verses that embody the Lord’s Prayer have to be some of the most

astounding Scriptures in the entire Bible. I mean, think about it: Can you

imagine sitting there around Jesus’ feet that day, listening to him teach on

prayer? The moment you hear him say, “Pray like this,” what might cross

your mind? I’d probably assume this is going to be a long and challenging

prayer. After all, it’s the King of kings, the Master Messiah himself showing

us how to pray. This could take a while! But then he starts to pray, and in10

like 20 seconds he’s done. I’d be thinking, “Was that it? Wow, that was way

simpler than I was expecting!”

Jesus said we don’t have to pray with long, impressive words and

vain babbling. He modeled what he taught with this simple, short and

thorough expression of prayer.


In his book When We Say Father Adrian Rogers writes, “Everybody

has God all to himself. In fact, God doesn’t love us all; He loves us each.”

He saw prayer as something God initiates in order to commune with us

individually and include us in his divine plan. As Dr. Rogers explains it,

“The prayer that gets to heaven is the prayer that starts in heaven. We close

the circuit. That’s all we do…Prayer is the Holy Spirit finding a desire in

the heart of the Father, putting that desire into our heart and then sending

it back to heaven in the power of the cross.”11 He believed the more time

we invest in prayer, the more God’s desires will become our desires.

The very first words of the Lord’s Prayer are “Our Father.” Perhaps

the most important purpose of prayer is to connect with our Father in

heaven. If asking for things were the only reason for praying, then the fact

that God already knows our needs before we ask could discourage some

from praying. It might demotivate us. Could it be that Jesus doesn’t want

us to make requesting things of him the only goal of our prayers? There is

certainly more to prayer than just what we can get from it.


Who would think that an acorn the size of a marble could produce

a 100-foot-tall oak tree? Or who can imagine the power contained in a

paperclip? If turned into pure energy, the atoms in one small paperclip

could yield the power of 18,000 tons of TNT explosives!12

In the same way, who on this earth could fathom the potential power

the Lord has made available to us through prayer? And as we will discover

in this study, it is not so much the words of our prayers that are powerful;

it is the God to whom we pray whose power is beyond all comprehension.


Meditate on the following Scriptures for a few moments.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all

that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”

(Ephesians 3:20 ESV).

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and

hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3 ESV).

Now humbly pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud. Call on your powerful

Father. Be sure your heart connects with him in the quietness of this


Again today, plan to pray the Lord’s Prayer at least 3 times. Stay

in constant communion with him. Seek to pray continually in every

situation. Below, journal a response to what you’ve learned today.

Living the Prayer

Take a listen or click HERE to find out more about The Prayer Model

Dwayne Moore is a best-selling author and a sought-after, international speaker. He’s the founder and president of NLW International, Inc., a ministry committed to providing quality worship discipleship resources to believers and churches.

Dwayne has written many books, including the award-winning book, Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship. His latest resources are HE. WE. THEY. The Life-Altering Formula of the Lord’s Prayer and HE. WE. THEY. A Church-wide Prayer Campaign. Other books include Creating Space, Pure Praise for Youth (foreword by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns), Heaven’s Praise: Hearing God Say Well Done, WorshipLife Journal, Building Strong Worship Leaders, and the church-wide campaign, WorshipLife: Honoring God in the Everyday .

Dwayne lives in north Alabama and is happily married to Sonia. They have 2 sons, Stephen and Justin.

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