Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The P's and Q's of Prayer

“Okay, let’s say our prayers,” I said to my 4-year-old granddaughter as we lay in bed. I folded my hands and began saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” and she said, “No, Nana, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” 

I was completely astonished as I sat back and simply listened to her while she uttered out loud the prayer our Savior taught in Scripture. She spoke it rather quickly, probably not even knowing everything she was saying, but she had learned enough to recite it. She will gain understanding of the prayer as she grows spiritually. Can you recite the Lord’s Prayer? If you can, have you grasped the significance behind each word? 

Last week’s post focused on revealing God, not ourselves. But when we pray, we usually begin by listing all of our needs and wants instead of centering our prayers on God. Jesus taught the protocol of prayer to His disciples and we can read it in the sixth chapter of Matthew.  

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also 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.’] (verses 7-13, NASB)

Did you catch what Jesus said to His disciples? He told them not to use meaningless repetition. I’m sure that sometimes I sound like a “broken record” as I pray to God (an older generation, like me, will recall how records—not CD’s—would repeat the same thing over and over again when scratched). I know God tells us to ask with persistence, but sometimes I get hung up on all my needs and my prayers turn to nagging. My focus tends to be about me instead of the God who created me and already knows everything about me. 

So how did Jesus begin His prayer? He said, “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” He began with praise for His Father in heaven. Just as our lives should be all about God, our prayers should center on Him as well. The proper way to pray begins with the glory of God, His holiness, and bringing honor to His name. After all, He is Sovereign over all the earth. He created the world. He is God Almighty and as His relational creatures, we should bring Him glory. 

God knows that we have wants and needs, but He desires for us to want and need Him first. He desires for us to get to know Him and trust Him. Remember (a few blog posts ago) when we considered the ravens and lilies. Jesus stated that if God can take care of the birds and flowers, then He surely will take care of His most valued creation—humans. Jog your memory with these words:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air.....And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow.....Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 31-33 (NASB)
Seek FIRST His kingdom and righteousness (seek Him first with your praises and honor), and He will take care of your needs. He said it and He is a man of His word. He will be faithful to His promises! Trust Him and bring Him glory with your praises.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
1 Chronicles 16:23-25 (NASB)

And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Isaiah 6:3 (NASB)
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14 (NASB)

When you pray, begin by giving God glory through praise. Acknowledge His holiness and speak it aloud. Bring Him the honor that His name deserves. Your list of needs and wants can follow, and God won’t be surprised by any of it. 

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