Let’s take a look at Matthew 6, and what the Lord taught His disciples. They could have asked Him how to teach, how to heal, or how to ... etc ... etc. but they didn’t. Of all they could have asked Him, they asked Him how to pray. Why? Because out of all they saw and heard, they were most moved by the importance Jesus gave to prayer. Therefore, if He prayed, so should we.
He said in Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Jesus was not telling His disciples not to pray in public, but, I believe, what he was saying, is, if you pray in public don’t do it to be seen by others. “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
When you pray in secret, it is not for show, but for relationship, but you will receive blessings from God openly.
Jesus said, “When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
I believe Jesus is not necessarily saying not to repeat your prayers, but He is saying we should not repeat something without giving it any thought and think He will be impressed by it. Prayer that is thought through is a prayer that is not in vain. Prayer that is not thought through and repeated out of habit is vain.
Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” I don’t know if you picked up on what Jesus just said to them, but He just told His disciples to pray, our Father. This is a prayer to the One they called El Shaddai meaning (Lord God Almighty), Jehovah-Rapha meaning (the Lord that heals), and Yahweh the unspeakable one. Unspeakable even today if you were to ask an Orthodox Jew to spell out the word God, they would write "G_d", because to them, His name is unspeakable. Yet the Lord tells His disciple to begin their prayer by calling God Father. Why? What has changed?
I think of it this way. If I were to go to the White House, knock on the door and say to the person answering, “Where is my daddy?” They would say, “Who?” “The President, my daddy.” The secret police would pull out their weapons and take me away.
If the president’s daughters were to knock on the door, and say, “Where is my daddy?” They would say, “Come right in, I’ll show you, where he is.” He is the same person, what changed? The relationship. The girls are his daughters, and I am a complete stranger.
You see, before believing in Jesus, He was the unspeakable One, but after believing in Jesus, He becomes our Father. Therefore, all who believe in Jesus can come boldly to the throne of grace and pray “our Father, Who is in heaven.” What a privilege to be His children. Thus, prayer is more than a checklist.