If you are struggling in prayer and are not sure that you are praying as you ought to (as God wants you to), I suggest that you use The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as an outline for your prayer. Start with the address—“Our Father in heaven.” Take one or two minutes to meditate on those words (depending on how much time you have). Then pray in your own words anything that comes to your mind. No doubt, if you have meditated on “Our Father in heaven” that is the topic the Holy Spirit will bring to your mind. Next, read and meditate on the first petition—“Hallowed be Your name.” Then pray according to how the Holy Spirit leads you on that topic. Meditate and pray through each petition and also the doxology.
If you like you can break the prayer up differently. For example, instead of taking each petition separately, you can break the prayer into just two parts. First read and meditate on the address and the first three petitions, followed by prayer; then read and meditate on the last three petitions and the doxology, followed by prayer. Some will like this idea better because it may be shorter and less broken up. You can also read and mediate on the entire prayer and then pray. This way your prayer time won’t be broken up at all. Do whatever you like. The idea is to let the prayer guide you so that you pray better and more according to how the Holy Spirit desires to lead you.
Here are some benefits to this use of the prayer:
1. As you read and pray through the prayer, especially over the address and the first three petitions, the Holy Spirit will teach you God’s desires.
2. As you meditate and pray through the last three petitions the Holy Spirit will show you what your most important needs are.
3. This prayer will guide you in praying for others. With the words “our” and “us” in this prayer you will realize that you are not alone, but that all believers are praying too. Moreover, if you have a list of people you want to pray for, you can pray for them as you pray for yourself under each section. For instance, as you pray for your own daily bread (for the things you need), you can also at that time pray for the needs of a friend. Then as you pray for forgiveness, you can also pray for a friend who needs forgiveness.
4. By praying this way your prayers will not wander. You will be forced to pray for what is most important and in the right priority.
5. By this method you will be able to pray longer and for more things. It will be easy to pray for an hour at a time (with short breaks to meditate on each section according to how you decide to break it up).
6. This method of praying will help to keep you in the spirit of prayer and to define that spirit in which you are to pray.
John MacArthur writes:
The prayer…defines the spirit in which we are to pray. “Our” reflects an unselfish spirit; “Father,” a family spirit; “hallowed be thy name,” a reverent spirit; “thy kingdom come,” a loyal spirit; “thy will be done,” a submissive spirit; “forgive us,” a penitent spirit; “lead us not into temptation,” a humble spirit; “thine is the kingdom,” a triumphant spirit; “and the glory,” and exultant spirit; “forever,” and eternal spirit.