“This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…'”
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
We live in a society of people who tend to put their own interests ahead of those of others. I recall hearing a story about a seminary professor who gave out an assignment to his class that required them to write a paper about the story of the Good Samaritan.
Students were directed to go to the seminary library immediately after class and look up the commentaries on the story in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:30-37). They were encouraged to seek the reason for Jesus telling the story and how the people of Jesus’ day illustrate society today.
While the students were all familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan what they did not know was that the professor had arranged for someone to lie on the side of the path to the library from the lecture hall and appear to be beaten up. The “victim’ was to cry for help as the students passed by him en route to the library.
The shocking results of the students’ behaviour was that none stopped to offer assistance because they had been told that they must complete the assignment quickly and hand the results of their research to the professor by supper time.
That experiment by the professor was brilliant. It drove home to the students the fact that they were like the priest and the Levite who seemed too busy to help someone in critical need. The students put good marks on their research ahead of human need.
Many people use prayer like a shopping list. Everything is about themselves and prayer for others often comes after their personal requests. Jesus taught us to pray and focus on God first and ask Him to cause people to reverence and worship Him.
True prayer begins with the recognition of the fact we are not God’s equals. In other words we ought to start our prayers with worship of God as the Ruler of the universe. This is what the first petition means. To hallow God’s name is to revere His person, to acknowledge His power, wisdom, and authority, in creation.
As you bring your needs, your confusion, your pain and suffering to your Creator it feeds your faith to spend a few quiet moments talking to Him about Who He is. As the Holy Spirit takes Scripture and enlightens your mind concerning the Lord, you discover yourself to be confident that His promises are not only true but are available to you.
The more we put God ahead of ourselves—the more we fulfil our created purpose. We were created for fellowship with God, and as we accept our place in the world by putting God first, we begin to discover all that the Lord has for those who love and seek Him (Matthew 6:33). Start your prayer today with worship, words of praise to God and see how it lifts your spirits and encourages you as you make your needs known.