The Petition of the Kingdom
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.Matthew 6:9-13
Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”’
Have you ever had someone repeatedly making the same demands of you to the point that suddenly feel like you are trapped in a scene of Groundhog Day? A common practice among the pagan Romans of the day was to repeat the same ritualistic phrases over and over again in a form of magical incantation, meant to manipulate the gods into doing the will of the pray-er. Subtly, the Jewish leadership began to model this same practice by repeating the Scriptural prayers of old so much so that they began to lose the heart of their prayers and turned prayer into another form of incantation in order to manipulate God into doing their will. In fact, there are some elements within the modern church today that still practice this concept, and have taken the Lord’s prayer and turned it into this same ritualistic practice, instead of recognizing the context of what Jesus was saying in order to inspire the people to approach prayer as a time of intimate conversation with their Creator.
When Jesus says “Pray, then, in this way”, He was not saying to only pray with these words. Rather, the phrase “in this way” is more appropriately translated “in this pattern.” There have been a number of different acronyms and illustrations of how to pattern your prayers after the model that Jesus presented here, so I will not go into those. But I will give you some highlights in the hopes of guiding you through how prayer touches the heart of God.
First, we begin with the intimate acknowledgement of our relationship to Him. He is our Abba. Our spiritual daddy. The head of our household. The Father who guides, teaches, and disciplines because of His great love for His children. And even though He may not be physically present with us, His spiritual presence is always with us.
Secondly, the acknowledgement of our relationship to Him inevitably inspires an acknowledgement of His holiness. When we humbly approach the throne of grace, recognizing He is the only Holy and righteous God, we are forced to recognize that we are wretched in comparison to His surpassing greatness. He is the King of Glory and we must be dependent upon His mercy.
Which brings us to His Kingdom. He is not only our Father, He is also our King. He is our lawgiver and we are citizens of His kingdom, adopted into His family and naturalized into His realm. As such we are now beholden to His word and submitted to His Lordship in our lives. As a result our priority is to shift to His will in our lives, not our own.
Next we transition to our petition for our daily need. Our manna, the bread of heaven. That which gives us nourishment and strength for the challenges of the day. As Jeremiah lamented over the pending destruction of Israel, he uttered the familiar encouragement:
“The Lord’s lovingkindness [mercies] indeed never cease,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
From here, as we bask in the glory of His grace and mercy, we are then inspired to confession. As the apostle John wrote “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10) John writes these words not to the unbelievers of his day, but to the church – the believers who claim the name of God. When we walk in the Light of His truth, we can quickly see that we are indeed sinners in need of mercy. And when we confess our sinful nature and our specific sinful acts, He is faithful to forgive and righteous in His cleansing. Only the righteousness of God can cleanse our own unrighteousness by the power of the Blood of His Son.
This transitions us into repentance. A heart that is forgiven is one that seeks to remain in the mercies of God. And this requires continual repentance and submission of our sinful will to the righteous will of God. It’s not enough to confess our sin and depend upon His mercy. If our confession does not result in repentance, it is a faithless confession and our words ring hollow when presented from a heart of stone.
Ultimately, our prayers must be reflective and submitted to the will of God. For the Kingdom is His. The power is His. The glory is His. None of it belongs to us. We have no right to make demands of our God, but He joyfully wishes to bless His children who are submitted to the will of His Kingdom.
The great mystery of grace is not that we can approach the throne of the King and bring our demands, but rather that we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) We can approach His throne confident in knowing that when we come before Him with humility and brokenness of heart, He is faithful to place His hand upon our head and heart and give us His full approval.