“May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Jesus continues on through the Sermon on the Mount by giving us a template for prayers as Kingdom citizens. He reminds us that prayer is not about looking holy to others but about having authentic heartfelt conversations with our Father who cares for us and knows “exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matt 6:8).
Jesus warns us when we pray “don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again…your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” (Matt 6:7-8) – God knows us inside out. He knows what we need. So often in prayer we spend long periods telling God what we want, but He knows what we need. Kingdom life is not about God giving us what we think we want, but what He knows we need, for that is far better! We don’t have to go on and on with fancy words and really polished complex sounding deep theological prayers. Jesus invites us to pray with simplicity, trusting that God doesn’t need to be impressed with the quality of our prayer before He will answer it. God cares about us before we even begin to pray, we don’t need to make Him care by repetitive pleading prayers.
Our prayers should start with adoration and reverence, acknowledging that God our Father is holy. We cannot rush in with requests. Prayer starts with adoration and praise, for He is worthy, and we need to remember that.
Then we need to have confession in our prayers, confessing our sins and asking God’s forgiveness – “forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt 6:12). Jesus, in the middle of a lesson on prayer, takes time to teach us that in the Kingdom forgiveness is linked to our forgiving – if we want our debts cancelled we have to be prepared to cancel that debts we are owed – there can’t be double standards. If we want forgiven we have to forgive.
In His lesson on prayer Jesus teaches that as Kingdom citizens we should be focused on the here and now, not caught up worrying about the future. That we should be concerned about today, not some future time that may never come (for as James reminds us “How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” James 5:14). That we should be concerned on what we need, not what would be an excess. He tells us to pray “Give us our food for today” (Matthew 6:11), which would have reminded the Jewish audience of the Israelites in the desert when God provided manna each day. The point He was making was we need to trust God each day to provide for us. In the Western world of comfort we have lost that need, as the fridge has our food for today, tomorrow and the day after. Our doctors keep us healthy. Our wardrobes are full of the latest fashion. Our needs are met. But as Kingdom citizens we need to realise that if we don’t rely fully on God our best laid plans will fall short of what He has in mind for us. We need to rediscover what it means to trust God to provide for our needs each day, to live day by day seeking His face. Maybe we need to give up some of our comforts so we can be free to trust in His provision.
It is only at the end of Jesus’ template got prayer that we get to supplication, asking things of God. Yet do often that is all our prayers consist of. As kingdom citizens we need to get the order correct – adoring, confessing, thanking then finally supplication (ACTS), asking Him to meet our needs, to forgive our sins, and to keep us safe from temptation and “deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13).
Prayer changes things. But Jesus reminds us the power is not in the words of the prayer, but in the One who hears them. Advancing the kingdom can only be done by an army that marches on its knees in prayer, so take Jesus’ lessons on prayer and live them out!
“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV
- Do I babble on in prayer or trust God knows already what I need?
- How can I get to a place of trusting God daily to meet my needs rather than living in a world of comfort where I don’t need Him?
- Do I forgive as I have been forgiven?