He Who Needs Our Prayers Most
This is part of a continuing series that starts here.
Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
When we speak of prayer, what we usually mean is asking for God’s help in a time of need. We pray for ourselves and others. Prayer is directed to God and for people. Praying for God seems a ridiculous notion but that is exactly what Jesus is teaching us to do here.
Notice how the Lord’s Prayer starts with 3 concerns – your name, your kingdom, your will. The Lord’s Prayer is first of all a prayer not for us but for God. It’s a strange concept isn’t it? Yet it is exactly what we are called to do. But how do we do that?
We do it by surrendering our own survival. Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? Faced with certain death and with every instinct screaming at Him to save Himself, He prayed “not my will, but yours” (Matt. 26:39). In World War 2, we read of the terror unleashed by Japanese kamikaze pilots. On 11th September 2001, we experienced firsthand the destruction caused by 19 terrorists.
Think about it, if people could sacrifice their lives for an unjust or evil cause, how much more should we be ready to sacrifice our lives for our Heavenly Father who loves us?
Surrendering our own survival also means we stop worrying, which is easier said than done I know. So try this instead. The next time you pray, make no mention of your own needs. Go ahead and ask God for anything you can think of, on the condition that it doesn’t apply to you. You might end up surprising yourself with what you pray for! This leads us to the second step.
We do it by thinking about others. No single person embodies this better than the apostle Paul. Even when he was languishing in prison, so great was his concern for the church that he could confidently say “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). I can honestly (and to my shame) say that if I were ever imprisoned, the church would probably not be high on my list of concerns. Nevertheless, Paul calls us to imitate him and reminds us that spiritual maturity happens over time (Phil. 3:12-17).
Thinking about others requires that we take an interest in the people around us. The amount of effort required will naturally depend on our individual personalities and circumstances. But we all must make the effort. So start thinking of your family and close friends. How many of them are in a deep and thriving relationship with God? Odds are, many of them are having to navigate life without the assurance of a Heavenly Father. Do you know anyone who have lost their jobs due to Covid19? Don’t underestimate the power of a text message asking someone how they’re going. Perhaps you can do more!
Surrendering our survival and thinking about others are just 2 ways we can live out the Lord’s Prayer. But when all is said and done, the most important thing is that we pray.
What's stopping you from praying right this moment?