MATTHEW 6:7–10 – And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE PROPER FOUNDATION FOR PRAYER. Prayer takes on many forms. There is a type of praying the Apostle Paul exhorts – “pray without ceasing” which is living in an attitude of prayer throughout each day (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is a sign of good spiritual health that we recognize God both for who He is and what we need of Him as we live out the challenges and spiritual battles of each day. Basically, to “pray without ceasing” is to walk consciously with God moment-by-moment each day. Another type of praying and one which must be a regular practice are those set times we pull away from the world for prayer. It would be with other Christians – All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer together; Many were gathered together and were praying (Acts 1:14;12:12). And it will be alone, like the Lord Jesus – And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23). Regardless of the type of praying, Jesus teaches us the essential foundation for prayer. It is found in His Sermon on the Mount as well as in the opening of His High Priestly prayer – When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you (John 17:1).
Effective, God-honoring prayer begins, continues, and ends with being God-centered. Not only in relationship but our petitions. In the High Priestly prayer of our Lord, His focus is on the glory of His Father (God-centeredness). In His instructions found in today’s scripture, the focus is the same.
As we approach God in prayer, we recognize our relationship with Him in the family context – “Our Father” – but also in the majesty of His Person and the centrality of His purposes and will in all things for all times – “hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Space doesn’t allow a thorough development of this, but suffice to say, our prayers must be directed to the God who is our Father and that everything we are about to pray for must center on and be about Him. And that isn’t easy. Oh, it is easy to say, but not live out. How many times have we prayed for someone or something and say, “Your will be done” but when we are in the throes of some difficulty might struggle to say, “Nevertheless, Your will be done”? For instance, we are asking God to deliver us from something painful that is filling our hearts and minds with anxiety. Might be tangible, emotional, or relational. But God doesn’t remove it. Like He didn’t for the Apostle Paul when He said, “No, this is a thorn in your flesh to keep you relying on the sufficiency of My grace” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). How we respond – glad submission or grumbling complaining – tells us what the foundation of our prayer life is – God’s will or ours.
So, when we gather for prayer with others or separate ourselves for a season of communion with God, let’s practice Jesus’ instructions to “hallow our Father’s Name” and sincerely ask Him to make His will center in our praying and lives. Even and especially so when His will is not ours.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to not only start my prayer centered on You but to live a life of prayer centered on You.”
QUOTE: “God-centered prayer is easy to say but will be tested when He doesn’t answer our prayers as we desire.”