How to Pray | Matthew 6:5-8

Do you bow your head submissively, or do you lift your face & hands to the heavens?

When given The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, we’re told to pray in private:

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.”

There are probably just as many references in the Bible to bowing in submission as there to lifting up faces and hands. When you raise both of your hands and hold them out, palms up, in private, what do you feel? If you’re out of shape, you probably tire quickly. :) But seriously, you may not feel much of anything. If you’re not too self-conscious to raise them in a group or in church, what do you feel? Exposed? Vulnerable? I do!

I understand that bowing our heads shows that we acknowledge that we are weak and the Lord reigns over us. There’s a place for that. When confessing our sins and praying for forgiveness, sure! When bringing requests to God in prayer (as in praying for the sick), we humble ourselves before Him by bowing our heads to show that we accept His will. When praising God, I can totally see lifting up our hands and faces to Him. Here’s an interesting article on “How We Pray“.

Bowing our heads, closing our eyes, and folding our hands may feel like hiding (praying in private). I get that. Lifting hands is hard for many because it’s out of their comfort zones. I get that, too. It’s easy to get “swept away” if you let go and just lift your hands, though. There’s an energy that fills you completely when you lift your hands in prayer. No matter what your beliefs are, you can’t deny this. Whether it’s the Holy Spirit filling us or other energy that runs through all existence in ways we will never understand, it is there. Either way, I believe it’s possible that it’s all one and the same.

Worry Addressed in the Bible

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Oh, to be a bird in the air or a flower growing in a field! But we’re not. However, the human ideal of what we must do to survive – no … to merely exist is blown entirely out of proportion fed by desire alone. All forms of media tell us we must have the latest and greatest gadgets, and we must dress in the finest clothes and wear the finest, most expensive jewels. Do you ever wonder why trends change? Money! Those who are easily molded into the epitome of the latest look have spent as much money as they’re going to on achieving that look. So a new look must be fashioned. Wanting to be accepted or noticed, those same people will give away or sell their old stuff and purchase new stuff. A lot of my stuff, I’m not ashamed to say, comes from Target, Walmart, Ross, and Marshalls. I’m not one to go out and buy something from an expensive store in a mall just because Peggy Sue Mergatroid is wearing the exact same thing. I seriously don’t get that way of thinking anyway. Why would I want to wear something just because someone else is wearing it? I want to wear things that look and feel good on me. “Oh, but it’s all the rage!” you say? And your point is…?

That may have strayed a bit from the verses above, but I felt the urge to express that thought!

My next thought is on verse 34 alone: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” This is where most people stop with that verse, but it continues: “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So this is not telling us to just live our lives carefree or willy-nilly thinking that God will make sure our needs are met. We do have to tend to today and what is right in front of us. Unlike when Scarlett said, “I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”, this isn’t a free pass to procrastinate or push all your cares away until it’s more convenient for you to deal with them. Tomorrow holds it’s own trouble, but you do have to deal with today’s troubles today.

Proverbs 12:25

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Worrying makes us anxious, and if you stop and pay attention to how you’re feeling when you’re in the midst of worrying about something, you will notice that your heart literally feels weighed down. You’ve all heard it described as a weight on one’s chest, right? Well, there ya go! Likewise, when you’re happy, you feel as if your heart is floating in your chest. Which would you rather feel a majority of the time?

Philippeans 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When you’re anxious, you tend to fear the worst possible outcome of whatever the situation may be. If you take the time to really think about it all, really put everything into proper perspective and count your blessings, then you’ll find that things generally don’t look quite so bad anymore. Remember what Maria sang to the Von Trapp kids about remembering her favorite things? Well that kind of positive thinking actually works! The peace of God truly does transcend all understanding. I don’t understand it myself, which is something I struggle with just accepting without needing to understand it. What helps me is this: I know that each who believes has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live and dwell within us. If you are of a faith that believes in a triune God, then you must know that this means God Himself is within us. I’m just going to let that one sit there.

Peace!