We are now going to start looking at The Lord’s Prayer in greater detail. Initially we are going to look at it in two halves, as the focus of each half is obvious.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10 NRSV)
Who is the focus of this half of The Lord’s Prayer?
It should be obvious, but here are a few clues. We read ‘our’ only once, but ‘your’ three times, and in fact these are all referring to the same person, to God, as God is ‘Our Father’. It is God who is ‘in heaven’, and it is his ‘kingdom’ and ‘will’ that we want to see ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.
Now this is how Jesus structured his prayers, yet this is the antithesis of so much prayer that takes place today. Jesus had got his priorities right, it was about his Father first of all. Elsewhere Jesus says ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.’ (John 5:19 NRSV). This shows that he taught others how he prayed himself.
Jesus prayed for and sought what his Father wanted before what he wanted. The ultimate expression of this is when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives on the night he was betrayed. Here Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42 NRSV). This was no nice prayer, it was so deep and painful a prayer that, ‘In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.’ (Luke 22:44 NRSV). This prayer cost Jesus everything, because he wanted his Father’s will before his own, and if we really grasp this then we will realise that he is asking nothing less of us!
If we, like Jesus, get our priorities right then we will have our prayer revolutionised! When we start seeing that God’s needs (God is sovereign and could easily work without us; but he chooses to work in, with and through us so needs us to work with him) come first, then we change how we pray, and that in turn changes us.
This is one of the reasons why Jesus had so much power, that he sought to do his Father’s will not his own, the second was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and did all things through his anointing. If we want to truly walk as Jesus walked then we need to start getting things in the right order. It is not that our needs are unimportant, but Jesus says we should ‘strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matthew 6:33 NRSV).
Who comes first in your prayers, is it God or you? Are you really prepared to follow Jesus example and pay the price in prayer? Do you want to see God working in mighty ways? Do you want it badly enough to ‘strive’ for it? What do you think?