Summary: 1) God’s Purpose 2) God’s Paternity 3) God’s Priority 4) God’s Program & 5) God’s Plan for prayer
At the foot of a huge metal rendition of the Olympic rings in Whistler, tea lights burn in front of the now-damp photo of a dead athlete. The sudden, horrifying death of Nodar Kumaritashvili has sparked angry charges from his father in Georgia that his son died on a dangerous Luge track. The entire Georgian team now says that they compete in the name of their fallen comrade. They compete for Olympic glory in his name. (http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/blogs/tomharrington/2010/02/tears-amid-the-rain.html)
What does in mean for us to glorify God in prayer? We must know how to pray. If we do not know how to pray and what to pray for, it does little good to go through the motions. But if we know how to pray, and then pray that way, every other part of our lives will be strengthened and put in proper perspective.
Quote: As Martyn Lloyd-Jones has beautifully expressed it Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, “Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face to God” (2 vols. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977], 2:45).
At the disciples’ request (Luke 11:1-4), Jesus provided it for them as a pattern for prayer. Strictly speaking, it is a prayer that the sinless Christ could never pray in its entirety because the last part includes a petition for the forgiveness of sins: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This prayer is the perfect prayer.
Quote: Of its perfection Bonhoeffer said, “The Lord’s Prayer is not merely the pattern prayer, it is the way Christians must pray.… The Lord’s Prayer is the quintessence of prayer.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan, n.d.), p. 184.)
In the few words of Matthew 6:9–15 our Lord gives a succinct but marvelously comprehensive outline of what true prayer should be. There are six petitions, following the initial address to God as Father. The first three concern God’s honor, God’s kingdom, and God’s will (vv. 9–10); the last three concern human needs (daily bread, forgiveness, and protection from temptation) (vv. 11–13a). This places God’s concerns first, just as with the Ten Commandments the first table concerns the duties we owe to God and the second table concerns the duties we owe to our neighbors. In our day the order is usually reversed. We begin with human needs and unfortunately often never even get around to God and God’s glory at all (Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (98). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.).
In light of what we have seen in this series, prayer is vital to every aspect of pursuing God. We cannot, for example, give (see Matt. 6:2–4) or fast (see 6:16–18) properly unless we are in constant communion with God. The only giving that God wants is that which is sincere, willing, and done to His glory-giving that comes from a life of personal communion with Him. Fasting is meaningless apart from prayer, because apart from prayer it is apart from God. It will be a meaningless religious ritual.
In Matthew 6:9-10 we see 1) God’s Purpose. (Matthew 6:9a) 2) God’s Paternity (Matthew 6:9b) 3) God’s Priority (Matthew 6:9c) 4) God’s Program (Matthew 6:10a) and 5) God’s Plan(Matthew 6:10b) for prayer
1) God’s Purpose. (Matthew 6:9) for prayer
Matthew 6:9a Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (ESV)
God’s supreme purpose for prayer, the purpose beyond all other purposes, is to glorify Himself. Prayer is, above all, an opportunity for God to manifest His goodness and glory. As we saw last week, Jesus affirmed the purpose of prayer when He said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified” (John 14:13).
Although nothing benefits a believer more than prayer, the purpose in praying must first of all be for the sake of God, not self. Contrary to much emphasis in the evangelical church today, true prayer, like true worship, centers on God’s glory, not on humanily’s needs. It is not simply to lay claim on God’s promises, much less make demands of Him, but to acknowledge His sovereignty, to see the display of His glory, and to obey His will.
As we saw last week, it is significant that Jesus makes no mention of where prayer should take place. Jesus’ instruction to “go into your inner room” (6:6) was to stress the single-mindedness of prayer, the need to block out every other concern but God. Jesus Himself had no inner room to call His own during His earthly ministry, and we see Him praying in many places and in many situations, both public and private.
Nor does Jesus specify a time to pray. Jesus, as well as saints of both the Old and New Testaments, prayed at every hour of the day and night. They can be seen praying at regular, habitual times, on special occasions, when in special danger, when specially blessed, before meals and after meals, when arriving at a destination and when leaving, and in every other conceivable circumstance and for every other conceivable good purpose.