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Monday, February 01, 2016

Praying Backwards

Andrew Wilson has a good piece in Christianity Today entitled Our Prayer Instincts Are Backwards. It is so true. We tend to pray backwards.

How many people start with "Deliver me!"? You know, there is a tough situation. We need help. We turn to God. We begin with "Deliver us from evil." Indeed, all the stuff at the end of the Lord's Prayer tends to be the stuff on which we focus. "Deliver us from evil." It is not uncommon for people to wish, in a crisis, to be right with God, so, "Forgive us our debts." And, of course, we are all fairly comfortable asking for what we think we need. "Give us this day our daily bread." Backwards.

The Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9-13) starts not with us but with the Father. Most believers I know miss the very first request from the lips of Christ explaining to His disciples, "Pray like this." You see, "Hallowed be Your name" is not a statement; it is a request. A statement would read, "Hallowed is Your name." He didn't say that. Jesus's first address is to the Father and His first request is that the Father's name would be hallowed -- regarded as holy. We rarely start our prayers anywhere near that.

A stunning phrase from the article -- a wake up phrase -- is this. "Prayer is not intended to move from action to relationship, but from relationship to action." The Lord's Prayer begins with a right relationship with the Father. May we regard Him as "holy, holy, holy" (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8). It follows with a prayer that God's kingdom would be present, His will would be done. First and foremost in the prayer from Jesus's lips are the concerns of the Father, not the pray-er. We tend to pray with the whole thing turned around. "Please help me ... and, oh, yeah, if I get around to it, I'll let you know you're special."

Human? Sure. Sinful? Probably not. But if we are to be followers of Christ as the term "Christian" implies, it would seem like we'd want to turn that around and, you know, pray like the One we aim to follow instructed us to pray, beginning with "Our Father who is in heaven" rather than "me".


Bob said...

Giving praise and Honor to God helps us to get our minds off ourselves.
i like what you said, very helpful.

David said...

I think I heard something similar at a Ligoniers conference. Use the Lord's Prayer as a model for our own.