Jesus prayed, and He talked about prayer during His earthly ministry. At one point He even gave sort of a model prayer for His disciples to have a guideline for effective prayer. We call it ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ though it isn’t a prayer He would have prayed to the Father. Rather it was a way for Him to teach us how to pray. On a couple of occasions Jesus gave this prayer template. He basically said, “You should pray like this:
‘Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” (Matthew 6:9-13)
We will break that prayer down in our devotionals this week.
The first part of the prayer gives us a reference point to where and who God is. “Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.’
God is our Father. This points to the patriarchal nature of God. He created us. As believers, we also recognize that He has re-created us. He gave us natural life, and He gave us spiritual new life. He is in authority over our lives. In a comedy routine, Bill Cosby joked that a father at his wits end may say to his rebellious child, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” God literally brought us into this world, and He can and will take us out of it. He is the ultimate authority in the human family, and in the family of believers. God gives us the rules to live by, and enforces those rules. He loves us, provides for us, delivers us, and disciplines us. God is our Father.
God is in Heaven. This points to the position of God. He is above us. He is not earthly, and subject to the things of earth. He is above earthly. He is in another realm that is beyond us. We can’t even imagine what life is like where God is. Our best attempts at explaining heaven must fall terribly short. God’s presence defines the wonder of heaven. Being enthroned in heaven gives God a great view of things on earth. He sees our existence with what we may call a ‘bird’s eye view.’ If you’ve ever flown in a plane, you know the different perspective you get of earth at 10,000 feet. Things are the same, but you see them differently. From heaven, God can see at once what it takes us a lifetime to see as we move around on this planet. God is exalted above us. He sees what we don’t because He has the perfect position.
God is holy. This points to the perfection of God. God is not tainted by sin. In fact, He can’t allow sin in His heaven. He is so pure that sin cannot be near Him, and He cannot be near it. Not only is His nature incompatible with sin, His holiness makes everything about Him perfect. His judgment is perfect because He is holy. Sin does not impair His judgment. His actions are perfect because He is holy. He never does anything that is not good. His motives are always perfect because He is holy. He never thinks or acts out of impure thoughts. He deserves honor because of His perfection. Have you ever seen a bride on her wedding day? She is wearing that beautiful gown. It is perfectly white with intricate detail. There are people dedicated to helping her walk around because they want no evil to befall that dress. It is too wonderful to come into contact with dirt, or the possibility of ripping. It is pristine and deserves proper attention simply because of what it is. The same is true with God. He is holy… perfect, and that means we treat Him differently.
So when you pray today, don’t just launch into a ‘wish list’. Prayer isn’t just to be a 9-1-1 call. Your prayers will be more effective is you initiate your conversation with God by acknowledging that He is the One who gave you life. Recognize His position of loving authority and unique perspective to know things you don’t. And bow before the reality that God is holy, perfectly beyond us, never touched by sin.
When you address God properly, it becomes a worshipful start to a holy moment that can move heaven and earth. This isn’t about ‘buttering God up’ in order to get what you want. It is about looking up and seeing God for who He is, to be who we need to be.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.