January 13, 2019 • Life for Leaders
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayer is the most essential part of our walk with Christ. This iPray series is intended to broaden your outlook on prayer and the usefulness of this meaningful dialogue, when done right. In teaching his disciples this new module of prayer, Jesus leads them to emphasize the relationship with God first—“our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9). His second point was built on ensuring the disciples were in the right posture or position—“hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9).
Here is my recap of a modern translation of Jesus’s first two points on prayer:
God, we approach you from a place of intimacy by acknowledging you as our Father. We also acknowledge that you reside in the place of preeminence—heaven. Before we ask anything of you, we come to you humbly, predetermined to respect your final decisions on all of our requests and petitions.
Following those first two points, Jesus gets to the type of prayer with which most people have familiarity. . . petitions. All too often, prayer has been exclusively viewed as a time of petitioning. However, the truth is that petitions are an aspect of prayer, not the only expression. Instead of dialoging with God, some of us are guilty of using prayer to only gripe and ask. We rattle off our lists of wants and desires, complain about the difficulties of life, slap an “amen” at the end and go on about our day. But Jesus has shown us a different way through this template in Matthew 6. After you have acknowledged who God is in your life, and after approaching him with a posture of reverence and respect, only then are you ready to petition God. People who are reminded of God’s intentional presence in their lives are less likely to be complainers.
What’s the ask?
When Jesus begins to teach the disciples about petitioning God, he takes what can easily be classified as a radical approach. He doesn’t lead them to ask for a house, food, friendships, a wife or husband, or even a pair of shoes. No, he makes the ask about one thing—the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10). This does not mean that material things are sinful or irrelevant. Neither do I believe that Christ is suggesting that we should never ask for these things. Yet Christ is clearly making the case for us to correctly prioritize our petitions. God’s Kingdom becoming manifest on earth should be the ultimate goal and primary desire of those who follow Christ. In fact, later in this same exchange, Jesus talks about the futility of worrying and tells his disciples, “but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well” (6:33). Essentially, Jesus promises his pupils that when they make the Kingdom their priority in petitions, the material necessities would follow effortlessly. Make sure that your petitions are prioritized correctly in this Christ-centered module of prayer.
God, you have instructed us to ask anything in your name and it would be done. Show us how to make your kingdom our priority in prayer. Teach us how to desire what you desire for us. And then, Father, let our petitions match your desires. In Jesus’s name, Amen.