“How to Pray the King’s Way” (Matthew 6:9-13)

I read a funny story regarding prayer. One family had invited friends over for dinner. As everyone was gathered around the table, the hosting mother asked her young daughter to say the blessing for the food.
The daughter fearfully replied that she did not know what to say. The mother instinctively responded “just say what you hear mommy say.” The young girl bowed her head and prayed “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all of these people for dinner?” As we see in this illustration, knowing what to pray for might be important. Jesus thought so. He did not tell His disciples this is what you should pray, but rather how you should pray. He set forth an example, a mind set, that Christians can model their own prayers after. Nearing the National Day of Prayer, I thought it would be fitting to look once again at the Lord’s prayer for inspiration and guidance.
We must first understand that we invoke God through a personal relationship. Jesus addressed how the ancients attempted to invoke or gain a good listening ear. A lot of what they would try would be “meaningless repetition.” They would recite or memorize certain words and phrases seeking to impress a God enough for him/her to listen. They also might use elaborate attire, gifts or other things to capture the attention of a certain god. Jesus gives us a great clue as to what invoked the ear of the only true God; it is a personal relationship. Jesus teaches the disciples to begin their prayer with “Our Father.” How do you attempt to invoke or gain God’s listening ear? Is it through good works, rituals, crosses hung around our necks, or other things? Clearly, the only way to invoke God’s listening ear is ONLY through a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus also gives us the answers as to what things should shape our prayer. We should petition God giving honor to his name. The word “hallowed” means to best set apart or distinct. This points us to the holy and sovereign nature of God. We should also pray that God would continue to establish His kingdom and carry out His will. In fact, 1 John 5:14 makes it clear that we are to pray according to the will of God if we want Him to hear us declaring; “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Jesus also instructs the disciples to petition God for three personal items: His provision (daily bread), His forgiveness and help to forgive others, and His empowerment – or to overcome the evil one. All of the above petitions point again to a personal intimate relationship with God; our Father.
Lastly, Christ calls us to praise God through our prayers. Our prayers should not be entirely centered on ourselves; our prayers should be God-centered. Once we begin to focus our prayers on God, praise will begin to ascend from the depths of our soul and ring forth from the lips of our mouths. Our petitions turn to praise and through our neediness and dependence upon God we declare His majesty and glory.
There is an interesting word that Hawaiians used at one time to describe Christians from the mainland. They say, “Before missionaries came, my people used to sit outside their temples for a long time meditating and preparing themselves before entering. Then they would virtually creep to the altar to offer their petition and afterwards would again sit a long time outside, this time to ‘breathe life’ into their prayers. The Christians, when they came, just got up, uttered a few sentences, said ‘Amen’ and were done. For that reason, my people call them haolis, ‘without breath,’ or those who fail to breathe life into their prayers.” Maybe the reason that we fail to breathe life into our prayers is that we don’t pray the King’s Way. So transform your prayer life and our National Day of Prayer by praying the King’s Way!

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