Praying to the divine for help and spiritual guidance is a common practice in many spiritual traditions around the world, and is often found described in their ancient sacred texts and mythology.
In the ancient Gnostic texts, the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew, for example, there are references to Jesus praying, as well as teachings by him on how to pray.
In the following excerpt from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus wakes up early in the morning and goes out to pray in a solitary place.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
~ Mark 1:35, the Bible, King James Version.1
The next excerpt is from the Gospel of Matthew, and in it Jesus explains that one should pray in an earnest way, not just for attention or by repeating lines in an artificial or “empty” way. He explains that one should go to a private place (“innermost chamber”) and seek out the help of their spiritual Father who will “reward you openly” when appealed to sincerely. Jesus explains that the spiritual Father knows what a person needs before they’ve even asked, emphasizing the point of earnest and heartfelt prayer.
Jesus goes on to give an example of what one could pray to the spiritual Father for. He describes how one could ask the Father for help that his will is done here on earth, and that one is given what they need, including help when facing tribulations, to be forgiven and forgive others and be set free from evil.
“Whenever you pray, be sincere and not like the pretenders who love the attention they receive while praying before others in the meetings and on street corners. Believe me, they’ve already received in full their reward.
But whenever you pray, go into your innermost chamber and be alone with Father God, praying to him in secret. And your Father, who sees all you do, will reward you openly.
When you pray, there is no need to repeat empty phrases, praying like those who don’t know God, for they expect God to hear them because of their many words.
There is no need to imitate them, since your Father already knows what you need before you ask him.
Pray like this:
‘Our Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms,
may the glory of your name
be the center on which our lives turn.
Manifest your kingdom realm,
and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth,
just as it is fulfilled in heaven.
We acknowledge you as our Provider
of all we need each day.
Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves
release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
Rescue us every time we face tribulation
and set us free from evil.
~ The Gospel of Matthew (The Passion Translation (TPT)2
Please note, more practice excerpts will be added as and when we find them. While we recommend the practice in this excerpt, featuring a passage from a text does not mean we can vouch for the entire contents of a text.
Jenny Resnick, Jordan Resnick, and Justin Norris contributed writing and research to this article.
“The Gospel of Mark.” The Gospel of Mark (KJV King James Version). Accessed March 23, 2018. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/mark-kjv.html.
“BibleGateway.” Matthew 6: 5-13 TPT – – Bible Gateway. Accessed April 27, 2018. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew 6: 5-13&version=TPT.