Do you know the importance of prayer in the Christian life? As we come to Scripture, we see that our prayer life can never be separated from the rest of our Christian life. It is often said that “We pray as we live, and we live as we pray.” Well then, how are we to pray? What are we to pray for?
I fear that this current season has drawn our eyes off Kingdom priorities. I fear that the enemy has wisely crafted a plan to make us lose sight of the Churches mission and purpose. Christian, we must go into all the world and preach the gospel! We must do this out of sincere love and genuine concern for fallen humanity (Matthew 9:35-38). We must remember that sinners are not changed by culture; rather, culture is changed by sinners who have been transformed by the power of the gospel. Keep gospel priorities before your eyes! If this gospel is before our eyes, it will inevitably shape how we pray.
I want to draw your attention to the first half of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-10. In the broader context of this passage, Jesus has just dealt with the manner in which we are to pray (v. 5-8). Next, our Saviour transitions to the matter of our prayers (v. 9-13). He begins by saying: “Pray then like this” (v.9). In other words, Jesus is showing us the priorities we must have in prayer. First of all, prayer must begin by focusing on God! I want you to notice the God-ward focus of the beginning of this prayer (v. 9-10). The first half of the payer is entirely focused on God! It focuses on His nature, His name, His kingdom, and His will.
- “Our Father in heaven” (v.9):
First, if we are to pray rightly, we must know the One to whom we are going to. Jesus reminds His disciples that in prayer, we first come before our Father. What a glorious truth! By virtue of our Union with Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, we are now children of God! We have been adopted into His household! The Holy Spirit enables us to cry “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15).
Second, do you know where our Father dwells? Jesus tells us that He dwells in Heaven. Heaven is the sphere in which God lives and reigns, without any boundaries or limitations. In prayer, we are to come before our Father in Heaven. We come to the Father through Christ, by the help of the Holy Spirit. Our Father in heaven is not like an earthly father. Earthly fathers are finite. They have limitations. The psalmist reminds us that “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3). Take heart, Christian. When you pray, you are coming before the Sovereign Ruler of the skies, and not only that, but He is your Father by virtue of union with Christ. The God who created, sustains, and directs all things according to His plans and purposes is your Father in Heaven (Gen. 1:1; Rom. 11:36).
- “hallowed be your name” (v.9):
What should we pray about when we come before the throne of grace? The first item of prayer is the hallowing of God’s name. The name of God embodies all that He is. It encompasses all of His glorious attributes. This is seen in two passages of Scripture.
First, Exodus 3:13-15:
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
Second, it is seen in Exodus 34:5-7:
5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Therefore, to hallow God’s name is to make known God in all of His glorious attributes. It is to pray that He would be exalted in all the earth. It is to join the psalmist in prayer that His glory would be declared among the nations, “his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods” (Ps. 96:3-4). Do your prayers begin with worship? So often, we bring our wants first. I challenge you to first bring to mind who God is. Praise God first for who He is! Before we can truly pray, we must behold God in all of His glory and ask that His glory would be made known.
- “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v.10):
The final two requests in the first half of the Lord’s prayer focus on the coming of God’s Kingdom and His will being done. When we pray: “your Kingdom come,” we are expressing the desire that God’s reign may be extended in the world through the preaching of the gospels. By the working of the Holy Spirit, lives are being changed, and the Church is being built up. When we pray: “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we are asking God to transform the lives of individuals so that they would walk in obedience to Him by the power and help of the Spirit.
As we conclude, let me ask you a question: during this current pandemic, “Have you held to Kingdom priorities in prayer? Or have you lost sight of the mission of the Church?” My friend, take heed to this exhortation. In the opening part of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus reminds us that the advancement of the Kingdom of God, through the preaching of the Gospel, takes precedence over our own needs.
During this difficult season, we must be praying that God would advance the gospel in great power. As unbelievers are faced with death for the first time, pray that the gospel would come in saving power to them. Do not let your prayer life get lost in the chaos of this world. Fix your mind upon eternal realities. Pray for heaven and hell to always be before you. Pray that God would stamp eternity upon your eyeballs.