Learning how to pray with the Lord’s Prayer: Part 3
While it seems our natural instinct is to dominate our prayers firstly with our needs, Jesus does not address our needs until the second half of “The Lord’s Prayer.” But this is not because Jesus is unconcerned with us; rather, Jesus teaches us to pray in this order so that our hearts might be brought to trust God before bringing our needs to him!
Jesus leads us to begin praying by reminding our hearts who we are talking to: our Father who loves and cares about us, and who is also in heaven with infinite power and control. We can trust that our Father wants what’s best for us and has the capability to take care of us!
Jesus then instructs us to pray for God to work: Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In praying these words, we are asking for God to show who he is that he might be loved and honored in our hearts and in the world. We are also asking for his renewing power to work in both our own lives and the whole of God’s creation, as we anticipate the complete renewal to come at Christ’s return.
In praying for God’s work, we remind ourselves of God’s character. God is not aloof or distant; rather, he is actively engaged with us and our world. He is for anything that showcases his holiness, glory and love. His heart beats for the renewal of us and our world!
In light of who God is, we can then bring our needs to him with confidence and assurance. In the latter half of his prayer, Jesus specifically outlines 4 types of needs:
Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
First, Jesus teaches us to trust God with our physical needs. For income, for shelter, for food, for health, for energy…we can bring all of these requests to God. Note the qualification Jesus uses to describe bread: daily. Jesus desires for us to daily go to God, entrusting our needs with him in faith.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
Second, Jesus leads us to trust God with our guilt. He doesn’t want us wallowing in shame or pridefully working to earn back a good standing. Jesus leads in a pattern of consistently bringing our sin before God, trusting he will meet us with forgiveness.
Third, we are to trust God with our hurts, forgiving those who have wronged us. The forgiveness we have been shown by God for our own sin compels us to show the same to others as we leave judgment up to God.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:13)
Fourth, we can trust God with our spiritual journeys. In this request, Jesus is teaching us to ask for spiritual protection both within and around us. We pray, “God, spare me from circumstances of great pressure that would bring out my sin. And keep me safe from evil in this world.”
Now, followers of Christ are not promised to be exempt from suffering in this life. Christians all over the world are lacking in daily needs, wrestling with shame or bitterness, or facing difficult temptations and evil around them. But Jesus leads us to continue bringing our needs to God, even if it feels our prayers aren’t being answered, so that we might experience the peace that comes from relinquishing our circumstances into God’s control.
In bringing our needs to God, we are also reminded of our security that is unshakeable: that nothing can separate us from the eternal love of God. We can trust in this truth because Jesus was denied its reality so we would never have to be.
Before his death in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42).” On the cross, Jesus experienced separation from the love of his father. Because of his death which paid the price for our sin, those in Christ can never be separated from the love of God!
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can bring our needs to God, content to leave the outcome up to God’s will, as we rest in the steadfast love of our Savior.
Grace Thweatt is the founder of Renew Devotionals, and she is passionate about teaching God’s Word to help others know God more deeply and experience his abundant life. Renew leads people to encounter God with audible devotionals containing scripture, teaching and worship music. Grace lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, their one-year-old son, and Nash the golden-doodle (who’s still convinced he’s the first-born child).