Editors note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers think through what prayer is and how they can improve their prayer lives.
- Brian Hedges looked at John Owen on the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
- Today C. Walter wrote on the Lord’s Prayer.
- Chris wrote on the practice of private prayer.
- Chris writes on the practice of corporate prayer.
- Mike Boling wrote on four keys to a consistent and purposeful prayer life.
- David Dunham wrote on the importance of prayer in counseling.
- Matthew Fretwell wrote on three ways to improve your prayer life.
- Dave writes on prayer and the grace of God.
- Joey wrote on the four functions of prayer.
- Chris wrote on seven ways to pray for persecuted Christians.
- Mathew Sims wrote on God our Father.
- David Dunham writes on the importance of theology to prayer.
- Jason Garwood wrote on prayer a precious remedy against the flesh’s devices.
- Brian Hedges wrote on five things he’s learned about prayer.
- Dave wrote on the importance of spiritual warfare and the power of Scripture.
- Dave shared seven books he recommends on prayer.
- Brian wrote on three critical truths about the sovereignty of God and prayer.
- Joey wrote on union with Christ and prayer.
- Dan wrote on five people we should pray for even though we don’t want to.
- Charles Spurgeon shared some great thoughts on intercessory prayer.
- Today Dan Darling writes on the Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord’s prayer is a prayer He offers for His disciples to pray. One of the things that really strikes me about Jesus’ model prayer is just how God-centered this prayer is. The Lord’s Prayer contains six humble requests, the first three are God-directed and the last three involve human needs. This is very similar to the structure of the Ten Commandments, which first begin with our vertical relationship to God and then end with our horizontal relationship with our fellow man. It’s similar to the way Paul constructed his letters to the churches: he often began with who we are in Christ before fleshing out how that affects the way we live.
A.W. Tozer said this (and I paraphrase), “The first thing that comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.” I hear a lot of Christian says things like, “I don’t worry about theology.” Well, yes you do. Everybody has a theology, whether flawed or otherwise. Sadly, most of our theology begins with me. We start our prayers with what we think we need and then, if we have time, throw in a few God cliques. Theology begins where the Bible begins with God. You will notice that the first words of the very first book of the Bible begin like this, “In the beginning, God.”
It’s easy to subtly devalue God by our prayers and our life. We say things like, “I don’t imagine God is like this.” Or “The God I worship doesn’t do this.” But if God is truly God–that is to say if God is sovereign, powerful, holy, compassionate, just–then it behooves us to not define God on our terms, but to bow before the God who is already there.
How does this affect our prayer life? Why did Jesus say to start our supplications with God? Because the way we view God affects the way we live. How much we reverence God informs the respect we have for our fellow man. And beginning with God in our prayers filters out the frivolous. It considers prayer as an act of worship, an acknowledgment that we are, indeed, not God. That God is God.
It means our prayers are in God’s will. It keeps us from destructive theology. It prevents us from saying foolish things like, “God told me to (fill in the blank)” when really it was our own fleshly desires that spoke. I once had a person tell me, with a straight and somber face, that God was telling her to divorce her husband of 15 years and go marry a convicted felon. Um, God won’t tell you to do something against His sovereign will.
Praying God-centered prayers takes some discipline and practice. I’ll admit that this is a struggle for me. I often want to begin what I think are my own needs rather than letting my Father in Heaven shape them. But there is something refreshing about beginning with God. It reminds us of the awesome miracle of access to the throne room of Heaven, purchased at great price by Christ on the cross. It reminds me that God takes great delight in hearing my prayers and meeting my needs, needs He knows well before I know them. It comforts me to realize that I do, indeed, have a Father in Heaven with a hallowed name.