Teach Us To Pray (With The Right Motives)
Can you imagine having a relationship with someone, but never talking to them?
Or, imagine if you had a relationship with someone, but all you ever did was ask them to give you free stuff and do favors for you.
Unfortunately, that’s how many of us approach our entire relationship with our heavenly father. But, if Paul’s statement in Romans 8 is really true, and we are God’s children, and because of that Spirit we are able to have a relationship with him, why do you think we keep our relationship so elementary?
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. – Romans 8:14-17
While there may be many reasons that we have distance in our relationship with God, perhaps the one that is simpler to address is that we don’t know how to pray.
What is your motive in prayer? Are you seeking to use God as your big vending machine in the sky? Do you only pray when you’re around others, and you want to sound spiritual? Jesus knew that motives were a problem when it came to prayer, so before he taught how to pray, he addressed our motives first.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Matthew 6:5-8
When was the last time you prayed because you wanted to hear from your father? When was the last time you went somewhere by yourself, and prayed to him with no one looking – not doing it for attention, but for relationship?
Let’s look at how Jesus taught us to pray:
1. Our Father in Heaven
Jesus didn’t start with “My” he started with “our.” Why? Sure, it could be as simple as the fact he was talking to a group. But, could it also be because we is how God intended for us to be in relationship with Him. God didn’t design us for isolation, he designed us for community.
But, I think there’s more to it than that. I think it plays to the idea of motive and perspective. God is Our Father. Our. Father. We, us, together. We are not praying to God in isolation, we are communicating with our Father who is also your Father, who is also their Father.
2. Hallowed is your name.
Hallowed is kind of like saying holy in the past tense of something we have done and acknowledge. God’s name is holy. We worship our heavenly Father. We worship Him because He is holy. We thank God for his nature and Character that never changes.
Worship is saying laying down our motives and exchanging them for God’s gift of Faith. You cannot worship God if you bring all your expectations to Him. But, we already talked about that last week.
3. Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We want to be a part of bringing God’s kingdom into the world around us. We want to see God move in our homes, neighborhoods and communities.
But it’s not just that. We want God’s will to be done on earth in the same way His will is done in heaven. In heaven, God’s will is just done. On Earth, we have sin, the curse, the fall and a whole bunch of humans who are living in rebellion against God. So, we want God to do His will in our lives in the way His will is done in Heaven. Kind of sounds like motives again, doesn’t it? We’re not begging, pleading and manipulating God to do our will. We are allowing Him to do His will in us, without any fight.
4. Give us today, our daily bread.
When you’re in close relationship with your heavenly Father, you begin to understand all that entails. When we rely on our own ability to provide for ourselves (which, doesn’t ever happen, because it’s all God’s anyway), we stress and worry about whether or not we’re going to have enough for today, let alone tomorrow. But, with God, we can see that He has at his disposal so much more than we imagined. In fact, it’s not just at His disposal it’s at His work.
What do you need? Talk to God about it, because He already knows.
5. Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.
We. Our. Our relationship with our heavenly father is intertwined with our relationship with one another. When we’re in a relationship with our Heavenly Father, we understand we have been forgiven very much. When we understand how we’ve been forgiven how could we not forgive one another?
Did God really mean that we will only be forgiven as much as we forgive others? That’s a tough question. But, we can learn from it. Could it be that our understanding of forgiveness is not exemplified by our ability to receive it as much as it is by our ability to give it?
Are there any offenses you are holding on to? Do they compare with the rebellion we committed against God – because the debt for that was paid in full. As we forgive others, we will know and understand and experience more and more of God’s grace in forgiving us.
6. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Satan would love nothing more than for you to think you’re going to start building this relationship with God, and then distract you with garbage about this or that and then get you to be disappointed in yourself for not being able to follow through.
Our faith is a gift. That means, we need God’s help to be able to truly follow God. We need God’s constant victory in our lives. That is who He is. God is the victor. He doesn’t know how to lose. Faith is this gift that God gives us. The more we know the one who gives the gift, the more we will understand the gift itself. The more we know the one who gives us the gift, the less we will be tempted to go off and do the things that create distance between us and God.
There are 6 parts of this prayer. Spend some time each of the next 6 days praying, thinking and learning to listen to God in each of these areas. Do it for one week and see if it doesn’t start to shape everything in your life. See if God doesn’t start giving you His eyes for His world and His people.
Go ahead, give it a try. I dare you!