Yesterday we began to talk about how Jesus had just explained how NOT to pray: to impress other people or mindlessly fill the air with words in hopes of impressing God (Matt 6:5-8). Then the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray like He did. We discussed His first line of the prayer and today we’ll discuss the second line: “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.” (Matt 6:9-10)
The first thing to discuss is that Jesus used this prayer as a model on how to pray. Prayer isn’t a magic spell that gives us our wishes. Yesterday we said that first we must come before the Lord not with demands, but with love in our hearts for Him that we humbly show Him: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courtyards with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Ps 100:4) Every prayer should start with thanksgiving and praise. For our prayers to be effective, we should learn to enter the presence of God with a grateful heart, without regard for what we are going through in life.
Names are highly significant in Scriptures and the “name of God” brings with it unlimited power and purity. Proclaiming to God that His name is holy is to acknowledge His absolute greatness, while noting that we are humbling ourselves to Him as our Father in Heaven, who is absolutely holy. We must never use His name in any other manner, because to do so is showing that we do not honor His name, nor by extension the Father, Creator, Loving God, and Faithful and True. Those who misuse His name, shouldn’t expect Him to hear their prayers.
Christ now models the importance of submission to God’s will, and speaking to Him in a way which acknowledges it. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10) Praying for what God wants to happen is to accept that His plan is right and good for everyone. Jesus implies that this includes all possible times and places. He is praying for the coming of God’s kingdom and the fulfillment of His will, in all places and all times. The primary purpose of prayer is not to change circumstances; the primary purpose of prayer is to change us! But either way, the chief objective remains the same: to glorify God in any and every situation.
Praying for the advancement of the kingdom should be of paramount importance to us. Praying for the kingdom includes prayers for the salvation of souls, prayers for Christians going through challenges, prayers for the gospel of Jesus Christ to take over the world, prayer for the protection and preservation of Christians all over the world, this and many more are kingdom focused prayers. To pray this in sincerity is to ask God for the very thing Jesus was going to accomplish: bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth at some point in the future. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayer is one of the most essential ways we connect with God and His Kingdom. Because by our faith in Jesus the Son of God the Father, we are able to go directly to the Father in prayer. “Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” (Heb 4:16) We also need worship, the Word, fellowship with fellow believers and service to others in proper balance and proportion to each other, for a healthy, growing and well-rounded spiritual life and growth in Christ-likeness.
These first two lines of the model prayer Jesus gives us, shows us that it’s important to know that we are to enter into prayer honoring the Lord for Who He is, honoring His name because of Who He is, and asking Him to set ourselves on the path of asking and accepting His will over ours, knowing He is a good Father who will provide the best for us and His kingdom. With these two verses of this prayer in mind is how we are able to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:16-18)