The cares of life overwhelm us many times. Our trials and troubles are too numerous to count. Americans are some of the busiest people in the entire world. And the stress is killing us.
We can’t sleep at night or concentrate at work or school. No wonder we fill our prayers with bucketfuls of needs and requests. We cry out to God at the end of our rope. He is our last hope. It’s the midnight hour and we’re on our last leg.
If I sound too dramatic, this is how many of us characterize our darkest night. And yet in the Lord’s Prayer there are no such situations. At no part does Jesus give us the quick fix for the word formula to get us out of our problems.
It’s not that our problems aren’t dramatic or that we don’t need God to swoop in and be our Rock and Fortress. There are desperate situations and he is the God who can save us in those moments. But Jesus introduces part of his model prayer to put us in the proper frame of reference when we come to God in prayer.
Jesus began the Model Prayer by reminding us that God is personal ( “Our Father”). Then we declare his perfect perspective over our situation ( “in heaven”). And there is no better response than to praise him for who he is ( “hallowed be your name”).
As our praise continues we turn to the first request of this prayer. We declare our true position in God’s kingdom and plan. Next, we push our needs to the side as we focus on God and what he wants to do. Then, we align ourselves with the position that pleases God.
Praying for God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6:10)
Powerful prayer relies on knowing our position in God. When we see our trials and needs as larger-than-life, we don’t see God as powerful. He is more than able to meet our needs. An effective prayer tells God how big our problems are and how much we need him. Effective prayer tells our problems how big our God is.
It’s easy to focus on our problems and needs. We still see calling on God in the middle of our darkest trial an act of faith. It is in the sense that we call on him first. But it’s not if we make our problems and needs bigger than our God.
The prior of faith sees God and his proper position as greater than any problem or need we have. We trust in God despite our circumstances. God plants are feet on the rock of Jesus and we remain unmoved when the winds and waves buffet us.
Praying for God’s kingdom instead of her own needs first pushes us into the bigger picture of what God is doing. We see His will rather than our own. We become part of His story, rather than Him becoming our sugar daddy who gives us our heart’s desire.
Paul was great at praying these types of prayers. He could be in the midst of fighting wild beasts in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32) and yet he would be praying for the salvation and continued growth of disciples in a church far away.
Our needs are real. But Jesus has already declared that God provides for and protects us. God is never surprised. He knows where we are in the storm and he sees what’s coming next. When we can position ourselves with that understanding, that God knows what’s happening next, we need not fear our trial.
The faith it takes to pray for the needs of God’s kingdom over our own will rock this world. It’s not that we don’t introduce these needs to the Lord, as we will see in the coming posts. But it’s that we frame them in the big picture of what God is already doing.
When we are in the middle of the storm we can’t see the infinite perspective God has. We can only see what’s in front of us, more doom, gloom, and despair. The needs we pray for may not even be needs in a day or two.
When I was in Bible College, my friends and I went camping over the Easter weekend. Everyone needed a break. We settled in at the campsite, my friend’s homestead where his dad was building a house.
The stress began to melt away as we relaxed. It was in Oklahoma and the grass was dry and stiff. We made the smallest fire I’ve ever seen. Then we dug a 3 foot dirt area around it. It seemed impenetrable.
But all it took was a tiny piece of cardboard and a little bit of wind to turn that little flame or two into a raging inferno. Six acres of brushfire later, the local fire company came to rescue us. We traveled to my friend’s dad’s revival services, just glad to be alive.
His dad wasn’t happy about the money for the fire company to put it out, especially after he discovered that for the same amount they could burn the whole property and start over with fresh grass, a common practice.
The next morning, his dad came in and woke all of us up at 5:30. He made us pack up and joined us in the parking lot. Then he told us why, “There’s a giant tornado headed straight for us. It just went through the Homestead. If you guys were still there you would all be dead right now.”
We prayed we would be safe as we ran toward our cars through the flames. Hoping the firefighters didn’t think we were arsonists, we prayed my friend’s dad wouldn’t be angry. On the way home to the college, we filled our prayers with thanks that God foresaw the tornado and protected us.
When we pray for God’s kingdom and will to come to earth and be fulfilled, we focus on the needs of heaven instead of our own. God will take care of us. He knows everything we need before we need it.
We can also have a hard time distinguishing between needs and wants. It’s not wrong to go to God with things we want. But sometimes we get needs and wants mixed up. What we think is a need in the moment may be a want. We need God’s perfect perspective.
When we pray for God’s kingdom and will to come, we become a team player rather than the star of the show. We learn how to cooperate with God rather than try to manipulate him, he brings his kingdom and will to this earth, and we are victorious with him.
God’s kingdom encompasses his plan for the entire universe. His will addresses needs I can’t even dream of. I want to join the host of saints and pray for God’s will to manifest and his kingdom to arrive.
Right now we live between the ages. God has promised great things and he has fulfilled some of them. But he will fulfill all of them at the end of time. Praying for his kingdom and will on earth shows our desire to reunite with God. We want to see him set all things right again.
We are more familiar with the physical realm but the spiritual realm contains a great battlefield between God and wickedness. The Prince of the Power of the Air, the devil, rules this world at the moment (Ephesians 2:1-4). But God, as Creator, owns all things. Praying his kingdom and will advance it against the enemy of our souls.
We pray for God to rule and reign our hearts and this world. We want to do what pleases him. He works on our behalf and completes his will. When we pray God’s will, we know he is working all things out together for our good. Our needs become so small.
After reminding yourself through praising God for his power, next realize your position in God’s plan. Through proclaiming and asking God to bring His Kingdom, we align ourselves to God’s agenda rather than our own.
We become more aware of more pressing needs than our own desires. We gain a passion for God’s Kingdom rather than trying to build our own. It’s not about what we want. It’s about what God wants. It’s about him rule in our hearts first.
Use this part of prayer to pray for God’s kingdom and will. Become a team player and align yourself with what God is doing in the world, in your church, and even in your life. Remind your trials, problems, and needs that God is bigger than they will ever be.
When you pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, what do you focus on? Leave a comment and tell me about your experiences in praying the Lord’s Prayer.