“Pray, then, in this way…” Matthew 6:9a
Just as a fountain never rises higher than its head, so a Christian never rises any higher than his or her prayer life! Many years ago, S. D. Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, wrote, “A Christian has much to do after he has prayed, but he is not ready to do anything until he has prayed!” The first time our Lord Jesus taught on the subject of prayer in His earthly ministry was in a part of what has become known as The Sermon on the Mount. Sometime this portion is referred to as The Lord’s Prayer. It is well to look at it as a model for a life of prayer, rather than an individual prayer.
The Lord not only instructs us how to pray, but first and foremost to be about praying! Not if we pray, but when we pray! Then He teaches us that the twofold purpose for prayer is first for the glory of our heavenly Father (vv 9b-10), and secondly for the good of His earthly family (vv 11-13). Notice that Jesus introduces the term Father. This is revolutionary! In the Old Testament that term is not used. God is referred to as holy, high and exalted. Now Jesus tells us to understand that God is also our Father! Prayer is primarily for obtaining something for our Father. First of all reverence (Hallowed, revered, respected, feared). Secondly, the advancing of His Kingdom. As it was always Jesus’s ambition, so it is to be ours! Thirdly, we should seek the will of our Father in heaven be done on the earth. That brings up an interesting aspect…The will of God is always being done in heaven! The idea is that when we pray about something, or someone, we need to find out what is happening in heaven in relation to that person, or situation, and pray that the heavenly Will will be done here on earth!
Prayer is secondarily for the good of the Father’s family. Firstly, our provision (v 11). Secondly, our pardon (v 12). Also, note the relation between our forgiving others, and the Lord forgiving us (vv 14-15). It is possible to be in relation to God by faith in Christ, but be out of fellowship with him by refusing to forgive as we have been forgiven! Thirdly, our protection (v 13). Prayer is the Lord’s means whereby we as God’s children seek our heavenly Father’s glory and His family’s good.
I am reminded of a story I once read about ancient Rome. After a great victory that was significant to Rome, there was a great celebration in the city, known as a Triumph. When the battle was close to the city, the Emperor went to the battlefield to accept the surrender of the enemy. Then there was a parade in the city of Rome with the Emperor riding on a gold chariot pulled by two white horses. Surrounding the chariot was the Praetorian Guard, authorized to guard the Emperor up to cost of their personal lives. As the parade passed through the city, suddenly a young boy broke from the crowd approaching the Emperor’s chariot. The nearest guard drew his sword, telling the boy not to approach the Emperor. The boy replied, “He’s your Emperor; He’s my Father!” Jesus Christ is the Emperor of all the universe, and if you have put your faith in Him as Savior and Lord, God is your Father as well! If you have not, you can put your faith in Christ right now!