We have been looking about the right way to pray, to talk to God because, when we learn to pray the right way, we can get our prayers answered. A lot of prayers are not answered because they are prayed in the wrong way.
Please give careful attention. When Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray, He said in Mathew 6:9 ‘Our Father who art in heaven.’ That is to think of God as a loving Father and to think of Him as Almighty Ruler from heaven who can answer every prayer, meet every need, solve every problem, lift you up from any pit you have fallen into, unwind any mess you have made of your life, and there is nothing He can’t do. He loves you enough to help you, and He is powerful enough to solve your problems and to protect you from your enemies. ‘Our Father, who art in heaven’ – we are not orphans, we are children of God. That is why we can pray ‘Our Father who is in heaven.’
Then He said if you want to communicate with God, you have to get rid of the self-centred attitude. Jesus came to save us from sin and the essence of sin is that I am centred in myself. I am thinking of myself all the time – What I can get from this? What I can get from that? What I can get from the other? If that has not changed in your life, something is wrong. The reason for all our problems is that we are centred in ourselves and Jesus said, get out of that, make God the centre of your life. That is the way it is meant to be. You know, for thousands of years people thought the earth was the centre of the universe. All your calculations will all go wrong in astronomy if you think the earth is the centre of the universe. The earth is just one little speck of dust floating around in space. Man got his science right when he discovered that the earth is not the centre of the universe, and not even the centre of the solar system, but the sun is the centre of the solar system. In the same way, spiritually, we need to recognize that God did not create us to be centred in ourselves, thinking of what we are going to gain or what our families are going to get. As long as you think like that you are living in sin.
Jesus came to save us from that sin; to teach us to be centred in God where we are taken up with what His needs are: with His Kingdom, His name, and all other things will fall into place in our lives. So, if you are having problems in this area, just consider if the reason is that, in all your prayers, you only think of yourself and your family’s needs. Change that, change it from today. I am not saying don’t pray for yourself or your family. By all means do that. In fact, it is a responsibility for parents especially to pray for their children every day. That is important and you should be doing that. I am not saying you should stop that, but centre everything in God. When you pray for your children, don’t just pray that they make a lot of money, but pray that they will honour God and seek His Kingdom first. That is what I mean by centring it in God. Centre everything in God in terms of God’s name being glorified: ‘Hallowed be Your name’, that is what Jesus taught us to pray.
The very first request is, Lord, let Your name be glorified. Let people respect and reverence that name. The name of Jesus Christ is the name that God has given by which all men can be saved. It is the only name through which you can get answers to prayer. When we come to the Father, we are to come in the name of Jesus Christ, His son. We have to pray that the name of the Lord Jesus will be honoured throughout the world, throughout our country. Not honoured in the sense that they respect Him as a great man. That is not the type of honour God wants. The way the name of Jesus Christ is to be honoured is when people bow in total submission to the Lordship of Christ in their lives.
Beginning with Christians, those who claim to be Christians, they should put Jesus Christ first in their life totally. So the first thing Jesus said was that we must have a concern for God’s name. It is not enough just to pray these prayers with our lips, but it must come from our heart: ‘Hallowed be Thy name. Lord, the number one burden in my heart is that Your name will be glorified in my life, in my family, with my children, in our church and in our country.’ That must be the burden of our heart and, if that is not the burden of our heart, we must ask God to change us inside. ‘Lord, change me such that my greatest burden at all times will be that your name will be honoured. Even if I have to go through difficult times, let your name be honoured.’
There was a time, when Jesus was on earth, He was facing a great time of pressure, just before He went to the cross. He was honest and said in John 12:27, ‘‘My soul has become troubled. What shall I say?’’ Think of this verse when you are in a very difficult situation and your soul is troubled. What are you going to say? He said, ‘‘Shall I say, Father save me from this hour?’’ No, I will not say that. I will say, ‘‘Father glorify Thy name’’ (Jn. 12:28).
So you see, when Jesus was in that difficult situation, when His soul was under such tremendous pressure and when He was tempted to pray, ‘Father save me from this hour,’ He said, ‘I am not going to pray that.’ He prayed what was proper, even though it meant pain and suffering, and the ultimate death of the cross – ‘‘Father, glorify Thy name’’. That was just before He went to the cross. He could have said, ‘Father, please save me from this hour’ and could have gone straight in to heaven without going to the cross and we would all have been lost in our sins. Isn’t it a good thing that He did not seek to save himself there, but sought the glory of the Father? That teaches us that when we seek the glory of the Father, and not our own comfort or gain, our life can be a tremendous blessing to others. So even when we are under pressure, let us follow the example of Jesus who taught us to pray ‘Hallowed be thy name’.
From there you go onto ‘‘Thy kingdom come.’’ See, our next request also has nothing to do with our problems or our family problems, but we say ‘Lord, at the moment, the kingdoms of the world are ruled by the devil and his agents, but I want Your kingdom to come on earth – a kingdom where righteousness is at home. I want Your kingdom to come quickly.’ The word ‘kingdom’ is not understood so much nowadays, because we don’t have kings. A better word would be ‘government’. ‘Lord, let Your government come.’ That means the government which He is heading, which He is controlling with the way He runs the universe. ‘Lord, we pray that You will be able to run this world, this church and my life in exactly the same way’ – Your kingdom come.
Then He taught us to pray, ‘‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’’ So there we see a desire for God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will to be done on earth exactly as it is done in heaven. Now Jesus once said in John 6:38 that He had come from heaven to do the will of His Father. He said, ‘‘I come from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.’’ Throughout His life Jesus never did his own will, but did the will of His Father, however much pain or difficulty it meant. Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Whenever you pray, pray this for your life that God’s will be done in your life and not your own.’
All the misery, sorrow, and problems in the world have come because man has always wanted to do his own will. Whatever he thinks is good; that is what he wants to do, but Jesus taught us to pray for the Father’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. In other words, first of all, it has to begin in our own lives. ‘In my life Father, let Your will be done.’ Now how is God’s will done in heaven? Think of how the angels obey God. The angels obey God immediately. They wait to hear what God has to say and they obey immediately. They obey joyfully and they obey totally. If God says something to an angel, the angel does not say, ‘Hang on God, just wait a minute, I have got something more important to do.’
Man behaves like that. God tells him to do something – to go and apologize to someone, or to go and get baptized, or go and do this particular thing, or return that money you took wrongfully, and man waits, and, waits, and waits, sometimes for days or weeks and even months before he decides to do. But no angels in heaven waits like that. As soon as God says something they will do it immediately. We are praying that God’s will would be done in our life like that. It means, as soon as you see something in the word of God, you are going to do that immediately. You are not going to wait and you are going to do joyfully. You see, the angels don’t go around with a long face complaining and grumbling that their lot in life is so difficult. They are joyful! They are happy! They obey God totally. Jesus was teaching us there that that is how we must obey also – totally, completely and joyfully. Thy will be done on earth exactly as it is done in heaven. There we have the angels as an example on how it is done in heaven.
So, if we get this right, i.e. first of all in our prayers we think of God’s name, God’s kingdom and God’s will and apply all that to our own life, then in our life the name of God will be honoured by the way we live. In our life, God’s government or rule will come; He is going to rule our life. In our life, God’s will will be done exactly like it is done in heaven – unquestioning, joyful, complete, total and immediate obedience. Then we can say that we got our priorities right. Self is no longer the centre. Then we are beginning to learn how to pray right and then we shall find our prayers answered.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.