The Posture of Prayer
We’ve all had that friend who is never heard of lest there be a need we may somehow support. As surely as the phone rings and the caller ID has identified the suspect, we know in fact that they need something; otherwise they would not be calling. Perhaps nothing is more offensive to a relationship than being only used as a ‘resource’ by those we consider friends.
It makes one ponder how often God may have made this judgment concerning our conversation to him. Of course, prayer is and should be the means by which we make our requests known to God. Jesus said as much in his ‘model prayer’ in the Sermon on the Mount, noting that we should ask God to “give us this day our daily bread.” But before the call for help and the plea for forgiveness, that same model prayer also postures us properly that our entire prayer life not be like the friend who only calls when they need something.
Jesus said, “9 Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9-10 (ESV))
Before anything else is the recognition of whom exactly we are addressing. We are seeking the author of life to whom all belongs; he who is “hallowed” by his very name. “Hallowed” comes from the Gk. hagiazo, “holy” or “venerated.” When we call on his Name, we call not on the ‘man upstairs’ but the judge of our every act and thought who by grace alone in his provision of Christ alone has received us to his ear as his beloved children instead of his enemy. When we call on HIS name, it’s something far different from “hey, Steve – pass the salt” and much more akin to what our attitude should be when speaking in front of a judge – guilty as charged – yet finding the leniency of the court.
The second phrase of Jesus’ model prayer further establishes our posture before this great God. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Truly knowing that it is the author of life with whom one speaks, how can the first thing out of one’s mouth be essentially, “stop everything you’re working on and give me a hand here, would ya?”
It is at this point that the profound nature of prayer is revealed in Jesus’ words. While prayer is commonly valued as the means by which we ask God for what we want, it should rather be understood as the means by which we ask God to reveal what He wants. That’s not to say that our desires are not to be voiced, but they are to be voiced from within the context of the subject speaking to the King, whose concern for His Kingdom will always – rightly – overshadow any and all further noise.
There are far too many supposed “prayer books” on our Christian bookstore shelves enticing people to attempt to manipulate the only one in the room who knows better. Our King does not answer prayer because one has learned the proper phrasing with which to send it. He answers prayer out of his regard for his own sovereignty over his creation and the implementation of his will. Thus, John says, “14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14 (ESV))
Our posture before God as his servants is paramount for us to be in the right mind to pray wisely and God (by his own Word) to be pleased in hearing it.
I shudder at the thought that if God were like one of us, He might rather roll his eyes upon seeing my name on his caller ID.