Have you ever considered what your prayers to God say about what is important to you? In the gospel accounts (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46) Jesus quotes the Old Testament saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” Is this what we at Westside are known for? Do you call this a house of prayer? We believe it honors Jesus when God’s people are consistent in prayer. What are we supposed to be praying for anyway? The Lord’s Prayer gives some valuable guidance for the substance of our prayers. Here is a breakdown of the components and some comments on each. For full context read Matthew 6:1-15.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name...”
Jesus encourages us to begin our prayers with an acknowledgement to God’s Holiness. God is not just good He is all-good and He is not just knowledgeable He is all-knowing. God is completely set apart and perfect; remembering whom we are speaking to starts our prayer off in the right direction.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done...”
God’s will is placed first in this statement. The purpose for our prayers should be for God’s will first. The petition of our prayers should be for God’s will. This is a commitment to do God’s will in an attempt to further His kingdom. This is also an acknowledgement that no one can prevent the will of God from coming to pass. When we admit He is in charge then we can take our rightful place in submission to Him. As believers, when we pray according to God’s will we can have confidence in His response (1 John 5:13-15)
“On earth as it is in heaven...”
As Christ’s ambassadors on earth we have a role and responsibility. Though we are in this world we don’t view things from a worldly viewpoint. As believers we have been reconciled and we are new creations. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. He has chosen to use sinful and broken people. We should pray and expect for God to use us right where He has placed us. For more on this see 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.
“Give us today our daily bread...”
God is our provider, not our employer, not our government, or parents, or anyone else. To admit this brings the responsibility of trusting in God’s provision. We should trust that we could give our tithes and offerings knowing He will be faithful. We should trust when we receive less than we expect that He has given what we need to sustain. We should demonstrate our trust by working hard. As our pastor says, “Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on God.”
“And forgive us our debts...”
We each have an on-going need for Jesus and admitting our need for grace is a great reminder and keeps our prayers in perspective. May we never become self-righteous before man and much less before God. We can never ask God for forgiveness too often and we should never forget our current need for grace. Our need for grace reminds us to keep a soft heart toward others in our prayers. Remember to pray for forgiveness confessing specific sin areas and also your general on going need for grace.
“As we also have forgiven our debtors...”
When was the last time that you prayed for the forgiveness of others? This model of forgiven people, forgiving people is another beautiful picture of the Christian life Jesus models for us in His prayer. There is blessing in seeking forgiveness and peace in our relationships with others. Praying for our own freedom alongside the freedom and forgiveness of others may bring to light specific people you need to forgive.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
As a follower of Christ we need to allow Jesus to lead our lives! Acknowledge God’s leading in your prayers. Trust God to lead you well and deliver from Satan’s schemes and devices. It takes daily effort to resist evil and choose God’s will first. Commit to His way daily in your prayer life and expect victory over Satan in the name of Jesus.
As we follow Christ in His example of prayer, we prepare to live a life led by Jesus. Then we will truly be a House of Prayer. Start today by praying though the Lord’s prayer making each component personal to you!