It should never cease to amaze us that God delights in our prayers. We are to delight in Him, but He delights in our prayers. One way to show that we delight in God is by praying. If we had only one place to go in our Bibles concerning prayer, where would you go?
One good place is Matthew 6, the Lord’s Prayer. Here the Lord tells us not only that He wants us to pray, but how to pray. It’s clear from this prayer that God wants us to put Him first: a God-centered prayer. Our prayers can tend to be rather man-focused. This is not a self-centered, but a God-centered prayer.
“Our Father… hallowed be Thy Name”: We are asking God to act in such a way that He is visibly demonstrating His holiness and glory, in the world at large, in the church, in our families and in our personal lives. We should be concerned with God’s Name; we want God to be famous.
If we want God to be famous, not us, then it makes sense that we would pray, “Thy kingdom come”. We are praying that the kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of the Devil, will give way to the kingdom of God. There is a fight, a struggle, a war going on.
Obviously, this prayer has an evangelistic concern, right? Jesus wants us to have a heart for the lost. “Thy kingdom come”. You can’t be a Christian unless you submit to the King. We want sinners to be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light. So, it is a God-centered prayer: God’s name and God’s kingdom.
But we can’t ignore our own needs and wants. Notice how they are expressed here, probably not the way we would normally express them. In affluent America we don’t often think of daily bread. Because our war is against unseen powers we aren’t always keenly aware that we are in a fight. We don’t realize the Devil is always on the prowl seeking whom he can devour. And we often forget that we sin every day. Sin plagues our thoughts and words and actions.
Jesus understood our greatest needs. We need provision – “give us this day our daily food”, a synecdoche to cover all the basic needs we have. We need protection – “lead us not into temptation”. And we need pardon – “forgive us our debts”.
Notice something else here. Dr. Mohler in The Prayer that Turned the World Upside Down, says, “If you are ever tempted to think that the Gospel is nowhere present in the Lord’s Prayer think again.” The Gospel is here. We can’t have forgiveness without Christ’s cross. The only reason forgiveness is possible is because of the crucified Savior.
Not only does Jesus want us to receive forgiveness, but bestow forgiveness. Not only is forgiveness a vertical transaction, when we seek forgiveness from God, but it is a horizontal transaction. We are to forgive others. How are we to forgive? We forgive like God. How does God forgive? Reluctantly? Eagerly? The prodigal son comes home and the Father is running to him. God bestows forgiveness generously, as Christ tells Peter seventy x seven times.
So this is a great prayer we can use to shape our own prayers.