Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 2: Whose will do we want?

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: ' Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

When you read the passage above, you probably noticed that this "model prayer" is not exactly the same as the model prayer we consider "the Lord's prayer". (Matthew 6:9-13) This is a "pared down" form of the prayer recorded in Matthew's gospel, but it still contains the basics. Luke has recorded the prayer of Christ in a very "doctorly" way. He has kept the skeleton, the basics, of the prayer and recorded what might be considered an outline for prayer. 

Luke begins with praise and honor to God, then addresses the needs for provision, forgiveness, and sanctification. "We want what You want, we need what You give, We want to live like You have said." If we can pray with that kind of submission to our Heavenly Father, we will have done well. 

My problem with praying in this manner is that my wants don't always line up with God's wants. In theory, of course, I want what God wants for my life. In actuality, I sometimes want something a little different. If you and I are going to pray the way Jesus prayed, we must begin by being willing to trade our desires for God's. 

Just as Jesus prayed in the garden on the night before His crucifixion, we must begin with "not my will but Thine be done." This prayer of submission is the prayer that never fails. When we choose to do what God wants, to accept what God sends rather than try to find a solution for ourselves, we have made a giant step toward intimate and effective prayer. 

Understanding what we want in prayer is vital as we begin our study on learning to pray like Jesus prayed. Do I want what God wants or not? If I do not want what God wants, and am not willing for Him to change my wants to His, my prayers will never achieve the intimacy I desire, nor the answers I hope to find. It is only when I enter into conversation with Almighty God, fully convinced that He knows best and completely willing to accept His will, that I am ready to begin to pray. 

Selah. Pause and consider.

If we want to pray as Jesus prayed, if we want to see mighty works of God, if we want to have intimacy with our Creator, we must begin with the submission of Christ. "Thy will be done" must be our heart's cry. Even before we speak a word to our Lord, we must begin by submitting to our Lord. 

Today, let us take those burdens we carry and present them to the Lord with no request but the one our Lord prayed on that fateful night. "Thy will be done." In every need, every hurt, every desire, may our prayer begin with His will, and not our own.

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42 KJV)