As we have seen from the two previous posts, Jesus instructs his disciples to set aside intentional, uninterrupted time to pray in secret and to also pray continuously. Within Luke’s gospel, we read that the disciples approached Jesus and asked him if he would teach them how to pray (see Luke 11:1).
A Model for Prayer, Not a Formula
In response to their requests, Jesus taught them a model of prayer (Luke 11:2-4). Matthew includes this model during a lengthy teaching Jesus presented on the side of a mountain (Matthew 6:9-13). Although it is not wrong to repeat this prayer model (which we often refer to as “the Lord’s prayer”), the primary purpose of the model is to serve as a guide, or simple outline, for our prayer times.
I often incorporate the model into my prayer time, but also go “off-roading” as the Spirit leads me. For example, I pray, “Our Father in Heaven” and then ask the Father to bring revelation of him being Abba into the hearts of my children, to pour out his love for them, and to help them to know and believe the love that he has for them. Also, I will ask God for my daily bread and the share specific needs we have within our family.
Praying as Jesus Taught Us
Over the next few posts, I want us to explore Jesus’ model of prayer and how to incorporate it into our lives:
1. Pray: “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name.”
This statement teaches us to address God as Father in our prayer. Jesus is correcting our perceptions of God. Jesus used the Aramaic word “Abba,” which was the term that children were taught to use concerning their Father. It has the translation equivalent as “daddy.” It is an extraordinary term for the relationship between a child and his or her Father.
Therefore, by using this one word “Abba,” Jesus completely shattered people’s image and opinion of God by transforming how they perceived God – that God is our daddy. God is not mad at you! Instead, as our Father, God totally loves us, accepts us, and believes in us.
Secondly, by praying, “hallowed be your name,” Jesus is teaching us that the chief concern of our prayers is that God would be honored and glorified. We are praying that God’s name would be valued, kept holy, and set above everything else in all creation.
2. Pray: “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
This comment teaches us that prayer is a means of revealing God’s glory in the earth.
Amazingly, prayer is a partnership where we join with God to see his Kingdom come into the earth.
Before we press too far into discussing bringing God’s Kingdom in the earth, we need to define what is meant by the Kingdom. First, the Kingdom of God is not the church. Too many people’s concept of the Kingdom is the activity of the gathered church: Sunday services, kid’s church, youth programs, pot-luck fellowships, and budget meetings. This misunderstanding is why the Kingdom’s influence is seldom felt beyond our buildings and into our schools, neighborhoods, workplace, community centers, and wherever else, the people of the Kingdom gather.
So, what is the Kingdom of God? As Dallas Willard stated, “It is God reigning. It is the range of God’s effective will.” The Kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God.
In this model of prayer, Jesus is teaching us that God moves through praying people to bring His kingdom order and will into the earth. Like others, growing up, I often struggle to reconcile the sovereignty of God with prayer. I often thought, “If God is sovereign and almighty, why does he need me to pray?”
However, the issue is not whether God needs me to pray, but that God, in his wisdom, has determined that he will work in the earth through people praying.
The Partnership of Prayer
The following is a brief outline of the Partnership of Prayer I teach among God’s people:
1. God has a plan.
God declares, “My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure … Truly I have spoken; truly, I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:10–11, NASB).
2. God reveals His will to us through the Holy Spirit.
Under the Old Covenant, it was stated, “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). In the New Covenant, God has poured out Spirit on all flesh, and all shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18). Jesus stated one of the Holy Spirit’s roles in the lives of his followers was to “declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).
3. We respond by continuing to pray for God’s will to be done.
Once God reveals His will to us, we are to partner with God by praying, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
4. God, in his own time and in direct response to our prayers, accomplishes his will (see Revelation 8:3-5).
God moves through a partnership of praying people to make his Kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
We witness this partnership of prayer throughout the Scriptures. For example, the coming of the Messiah, Elijah’s praying for a drought and then rain, and in praying for our personal needs. Also, a negative example is seen in Ezekiel 22:30-31 when God sought for someone to pray but could not find anyone.
Making It Personal
As you pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name,” set aside time to reflect on the Father’s love for you and to worship Him for his glory.
As you pray, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” ask for the rule and reign of God to break out in your family, workplace, school, neighborhood, church, etc. Ask God to reveal specific areas to pray through.