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Jesus’ disciples once asked Him how to pray. Everyone knows how to pray right? Isn’t it simply talking to God? Well, I’m sure the disciples were praying before Jesus came around. Still, they saw that Jesus prayed in a different way. Since He walked in an authority that they’ve never seen before, it makes sense that they wanted to learn His way of praying.
So, they uttered some of the wisest, most humble, words in all of existence: Teach us… Jesus then gives them, what has come to be known as, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ found in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. Before he introduces the prayer He says the following:
“…when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6
So, the first prayer principle here is: Spend time alone by yourself. Only you and God. Away from other people, away from the noise, away from distractions. Some of us really need to get over our phone addictions by putting our phones off for at least an hour at a time. The world will not fall apart in that hour…
Jesus then says in verse 7 not to use meaningless repetition. He says this right before launching into the ‘model prayer’. It is therefore safe to assume that He didn’t mean that we should pray that exact prayer. He didn’t say: “recite this prayer”. He said: “Pray in this way”(Mat 6:9). Many christians simply recite this prayer and miss some very important prayer principles by not looking at it in depth. So let’s do that now:
“Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”
Some of us start of our prayers by immediately asking for everything that we want God to do for, or give, to us. We should remember that God is not our genie. He’s God. The prayer therefore does not start with us, but with Him. In the first place, simply because He’s worthy. Prayer should start off by declaring God’s greatness. By starting with praise and thanksgiving we remind ourselves of 2 things:
Whom we’re dealing with, and
2. Everything that God has already done for us
This gives us more perspective on God’s greatness. His shear power, sovereignty and willingness.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven”
This reveals one of the single most important purposes of prayer: Aligning our will with God’s. If you think about it, prayer was not created for God’s sake. Our prayer does not add anything to who God is or what He can do. Prayer is a gift given to man for man’s benefit. God is doing one thing in the earth today and one thing only: Establishing His Kingdom rule. The more we align ourselves with this purpose, the more fulfillment we’ll experience while on earth.
The ‘alignment’ part of our prayer is the part that can sometimes feel like a wrestling match. We live in a broken world with ‘flesh’ that is in direct competition with our spirit man. Even Jesus had his flesh to deal with. Case in point: When Jesus did one of his greatest miracles in raising up Lazarus from the dead, he prayed a short little prayer and called Lazarus forth. However, Jesus spent a whole night in prayer right before the crucifixion. Why? He didn’t ‘feel’ like going to the cross. He needed to pray that much to align His will with the Father’s.
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Only then the prayer comes down to the 3 P’s. Our provision, pardon and protection. In other words: Our needs.
The order is important for a couple of reasons. One of them is that when we get an idea of how incredibly great and powerful God is, the rest of our requests are asked for with much greater faith. We are far less likely to doubt God’s power and His willingness to bless us when we realize Who He truly is.
We are also praying according to God’s will as we align ourselves with what is most important to Him: Establishing His heavenly culture on earth. “On earth as it is in heaven.” We do not pray self-centered prayers, but enjoy more answered prayer, because our desires are in line with His.
This is not an exhaustive study on this model prayer by far, but simply some thoughts. It’s my prayer that this will take your prayer life to a deeper level as the understanding of this has done for me.