One of the three actions that pastors teach every Christian when they become a follower of Christ is to read your Bible, pray, and attend a Bible believing church. But nobody picks up their Bible and is an instant scholar. You learn how to study your Bible along the way.
The same is true with prayer. No one is a pro at praying the first time. We grow in our ability to seek God’s face. Jesus fulfills our need to mature in prayer when he teaches us how to pray. He lets us know the way into God’s heart when we communicate with him."We grow in our ability to seek God's face." – Jonathan Srock Click To Tweet
There are different prayer models for different reasons and seasons, but we begin with the Lord’s Prayer, the model we have been talking about for the last two blogs. We first discussed how not to pray and then models of prayer.
Now I want to examine this prayer model Jesus teaches us. There’s a method to what we pray. As we use each line of the prayer as a starting point, we can personalize it for our own situations. Jesus designed this prayer model to guide us into an intimate relationship with God.
Even an advanced prayer warrior can use this model in effective prayer. When I began learning how to pray, I spent most of my time telling got a laundry list of needs I had. But the way Jesus taught us how to pray does not start with our needs. It starts with recognizing the greatness of our God over our situations.
Praying for Praise (Matthew 6:9)
The first principle of powerful prayer is praise. When we open with praising God, we are reminding ourselves that we are speaking with the Lord of the Universe. No matter what our troubles or needs, God can do anything!
We place confidence that God answers our prayers. He holds the power of the universe in the palm of His hand! This gives us faith to trust in Him to do what we need. We often make mountains out of our trials. But God is bigger than any mountain we face.
When we praise God and talk about his greatness, our troubles sink into the background. God knows everything about us. He saw this coming, and it doesn’t surprise him. He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Through our praise of this mighty God we rest in our Refuge. He is our Protector and we need not fear anything. God’s got this. In his arms are safety and peace. Praising God gives us the ultimate perspective and puts him in the proper place above our trials."Praising God gives us the ultimate perspective and puts him in the proper place above our trials." – Jonathan Srock Click To Tweet
There’s even more insight as we look at every word by itself. Jesus starts out, “Our Father.” There are two great truths smacking us in the face as we say the words. First, we address the God of the universe as Father. He wants to have an intimate relationship with us.
As our Father he is our protector. He’s on our side and anything coming after us has to go through him first. He lays all our fears to rest We don’t have to fight our own battles because God comes to our aid. He walks before us and has already prepared for our victory.
But he is also our provider. Everything we need comes from God. And he only gives good gifts (James 1:17). God doesn’t give us junk. He lavishes his rich blessings upon us. We don’t get table scraps. He gives us the steak.
Finally, as Father, he moves heaven and earth to direct us in his providence. God’s providence means that he orders our steps. We walk in confidence because he makes everything work for us. There’s no need to get fussy about a situation. And we walk in his blessing.
Next, we put the two words together, “Our Father.” Our culture has no shortage of absent and abusive fathers. They are not good representatives of our heavenly Father. He has no desire to harm us. In fact, he has plans for our future to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11).
He’s the perfect father. And he’s not someone else’s dad. He’s ours. He’s all for us. He aims his infinite power and resources at our situation. God has infinite knowledge of us and works his will in our lives. He is not absent or abusive. He’s just what we need.
The next phrase reminds us of God’s position. He is “in heaven.” This doesn’t mean he’s far away and unreachable. We cry out to him because he is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. But he has all power and perspective from heaven.
God’s perspective is perfect. He can see everything in our future and past. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We judge things based on our finite perspective. But God sees an infinite perspective in heaven. He is not in the middle of our trial as we are.
He sees the road ahead better than us. We have to look back to gain perspective of past trials. At the moment, we lack maturity to see ahead. And even when we do, it is not the infinite perspective of an Almighty God. His perspective is higher than ours.
For these reasons alone we can praise him for hours. The word “hallowed” is a rare word in the New Testament. It speaks of the holiness, the consecration, the sacred reverence, and the “otherness” of God.
We worship the Father because he deserves all of our praise. He is nothing like anything in his creation. He is separate and unique. There is no one like our God. No one is as powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere like him.
When archaeologists find a piece of pottery that tells them about the civilization they study, they hold it in their hands. It is precious and dear to them. We hold gems and jewels in the same way. And here we have the unique being of the universe. He is more precious than anything we find in his creation because everything we find precious originated with him.
But his name is holy. He holds a unique name among all names. In the Bible, names tell us about a person’s character. The Israelites refused to even speak God’s name because they didn’t want to profane it. To this day there are arguments among scholars about how to pronounce YHWH.
The closest we can understand is that it resembles breathing out and means, “I am that I am.” God’s existence defines his character. No one can grasp his complete greatness because he is outside of creation.
The best part about the Lord’s Prayer is that I’m just getting warmed up. This material can open praise for a while. There are so many reasons to praise God. We don’t have a care in the world when God is on our side. Nothing can stand against him. Our cares float away when we sit at the Master’s feet."Our cares float away when we sit at the Master’s feet." – Jonathan Srock Click To Tweet
When you begin your prayers, speak of God’s greatness. Use Scriptures that affirm God’s character and attributes. Set your mind on the understanding that God is all-powerful. This puts us in the proper frame of reference to bring our requests before him. And who cares about that list when we list his attributes?
Let the truth of who God is and His capabilities seep into your heart and permeate your understanding. Realize God’s greatness through praising Him for His power! When this is the opening volley of our prayers, he will surely answer them.
How do you begin your prayers? What are some new ways you can find to glorify God? Leave a comment and describe how you pray before the Lord.