What to Pray?
What to Pray?
Words of Faith 8-15-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
 He said to them, "When you pray, say: " 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.' "
We learned why we should pray. But what should we pray? Jesus shared with the Disciples what appears to be a brief succinct prayer. But we miss the boat if we think that Jesus gave another ritual prayer.
It is important to note that when Jesus gave this prayer in Matthew He actually said not to pray with "vain repetitions," but instead pray saying, "Father in heaven..." Yet, Christendom has tended to turn this into the most repeated prayer of all. Most scholars agree that Jesus was not giving us liturgy. He was giving a model outline of the things we should pray for.
Ritual prayers were very familiar in Jesus' world. Everyone said the ritual prayers. The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) was just one prayer recited every day by Jewish people. But there was something much different about the prayer life of Jesus. Jesus was a man of real prayer based in relationship. There is a difference. There is a difference between prayer that is only ritual and real prayer. Jesus warned against praying in "vain repetitions" (Matthew 6:7).
The point is not to dismiss rituals. Sometimes it is in the faithfulness to the ritual place and time of prayer that God breaks through to us. But when rituals are vain or empty, they kill the relationship of prayer. Imagine a spouse who would recite a beautiful love sonnet... three times a day with the same words over and over again. It loses its meaning if there is no heart in it! Powerful prayer breaks through the rituals. The disciples realized they needed powerful prayer.
Here is the pattern Jesus taught. Prayer begins with praise. "'Father, hallowed be your name" Praise is relational. We offer our praise to God not just for what He has done for us but because of WHO He is. The Name of God describes who God is. So we hallow or reverence His Name.
Have you ever had someone act like they knew you but you knew they did not even know your name? God knows your name. Do you know His? We begin prayer by drawing near to Him because of who He is, not because of what we need or who we are. Until we affirm who God is we really have no basis in which to make our petitions anyway. He is the great I AM. He is able to meet all your needs. He is able to resolve all your conflicts. He is the Lord God who is able to heal you, give you peace, and provide your needs.
Next we pray for the Kingdom. "Your kingdom come." Most of the attacks and struggles of life melt away when we earnestly pray for the Kingdom of God to be manifest in our lives. It is easy for us to simply pay lip service to this. We can fall into the trap where we live out the prayer, "My Kingdom Come..." We try to control. We attempt to use power. WE grasp power and control. We want our way. We get upset if we cannot have our way. Jesus says: Pray for the Kingdom. Get focused on Kingdom of God.
Where does that start? It starts with you and me! A Kingdom is anywhere that the King reigns. If the Lord is reigning in your life, then there is a little bit more of the Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven". If you are NOT surrendered to Jesus and His kingdom, then you are either surrendered to the Kingdom of Self or the Kingdom of Satan.
When we pray for the Kingdom of God to come, we surrender and seek to live out the Kingdom. When we read and study about that Kingdom we discover that Kingdom principles are different, often opposite of worldly principles. The Kingdom says we gain power when we surrender. We are the greatest when we serve. We are highest when we are least. We are most recognized by God when we are the least recognized by men.
We pray for daily needs. "Give us each day our daily bread." We are to live in daily dependence upon the Lord. Even when God has provided generously Jesus says, Give us this day. If you do not have a need today, pray for the needs of others. We often forget that when we are not hungry there are those who are.
Of course the food is not just physical. Pray for God to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of your day. Pray for the Lord to fill you up to overflowing so that you will not hunger and be tempted. Pray for the Lord to feed the deep needs and hungers of your life so that you will not be tempted to fill those needs with worry, overeating, drinking, lust, over-spending, or any other compulsive behaviors.
We pray for the forgiveness of sins. "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." Don't let sin build up. Confess daily your sins against God. Deal daily with your sins against others. Keep your sin list short. Ask the Lord to reveal undiscovered sin. This is the one place you can be honest. "Lord, did I sin in that situation? Did my anger reveal You or was it of me?" Ask the Lord to reveal anyone you need to get with to ask forgiveness. Ask the Lord to reveal anyone you need to forgive. Unforgiveness is a sin. Confess the sin. Forgive the person and move on.
Pray for protection from temptation. "And lead us not into temptation.' " Put on the full armor of God outlined in Ephesians chapter 6. Ask the Lord to build a hedge of protection around us and over us.
This is the WHAT of prayer. There is plenty here. We can cover it in a few sentences or we can spend much time with Him in each facet of the model prayer.
So how is your prayer life? Are you finding the time with Him to approach each facet of prayer? Praise, Kingdom issues, daily needs, forgiveness and protection from temptation? Let's start today.
Father God, I praise and adore You for You alone are worthy to be praised. Come and rule in my life and make Your Kingdom evident. Meet the daily needs and deep needs of my life and feed me with the Bread of Life. Forgive me of my sins. Keep me from places of temptation. In Jesus' name.