Prior to giving us the Lord’s prayer Jesus tells us, in Matthew 6, how not to pray. He points out that there aremany that make a public spectacle out of prayer and know nothing of what it means to engage with God. He also addresses the sad pattern of pagan prayer, which was and is the practice of lofting up many words and empty phrases to the gods, in hopes that one may stick. As was mentioned in my column from last week – this is a common danger for us. These warnings are followed by what is known as the “Lord’s Prayer” and yet this prayer is intended for so much more than its common uses. Jesus isn’t simply giving us a written prayer that we can memorize, teach others to memorize, and recite together. While those things can be profitable they may overlook that Jesus wants us to see how the Creator uses the created to recognize and spread His glory over the earth. So let’s look at what prayer accomplishes.
First, we have a Father who is in heaven, which tells us that the good King is our Father (Matthew 6:9). Therefore, when you pray be reminded of your relationship and then approach your Father, in Christ, as a co-heir with every spiritual blessing. You are not asking some foreign king for crumbs but you are asking your Father (who is King over all) to fill your plate with what He knows is good.
Second, through prayer, we can glorify the Lord (Matthew 6:9). This is our opportunity to give our hearts to Him and set His name above all other names in our hearts. As we do this, we confess our idols and turn from them unto the true King, who alone is worthy of our worship.
Third, prayer causes His Kingdom that is in heaven to come here (Matthew 6:10). So what does prayer do? It causes His purposes, will, manifested presence, power, peace, healing, gifts, salvation, repentance, angels, mercy, grace, wisdom, liberty, and revival to come down from heaven to earth. Does praying for those things really cause those things to happen? Jesus says yes.
Fourth, God provides for our daily needs through prayer (Matthew 6:11). Right now I have a loaf of bread in my pantry and I generally fail to realize that God made sure that I would have that. God is Lord over all the grain and wheat in the fields and the fact that we have bread is because He is choosing to provide us with it. And I may be going out on a limb here, but you and I have bread because someone, somewhere is praying for God’s hand to continue to grow wheat in the fields. God supplies all of our needs through the prayers of His people.
Fifth, prayer restores us to God and to others (Matthew 6:12). This does not mean that we need to be re-justified or re-saved each day. The Bible clearly declares that forgiveness was accomplished on the cross and applied to us through our faith in Christ. However, we do continue to sin and that sin debilitates us and breaks fellowship with God and others. As we go to God in prayer, restoration is accomplished and that is often needed. We need to be reminded of our forgiveness in Christ and this leads us to forgive and be restored to others.
And finally, prayer protects us from the world and delivers us from the Evil One (Matthew 6:13). The devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us and he is weakened and frustrated through prayer. How can you and I, who are weak, be delivered from someone who is stronger than us? That is done by getting someone that is stronger than them to deliver us. The Lord, with all authority and strength, crushes the head of the serpent. Jesus teaches us that prayer reveals the sovereign hand of God and makes things happen. I hope you will pray according to Christ.
– Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Clanton, AL. His column appears each Thursday.