In today's article, we'll be looking again at Luke 11:1-4 and making our way through the Lord's Prayer, the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in response to their request that He teach them how to pray.

As we began studying Jesus' model prayer last week we said one of the key things that Jesus teaches us there is to pray the Bible. That is, when the disciples say to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray," all of the things that He tells them to pray, and us through them, come from the Bible. So Jesus is outlining biblical prayer.

And his method for prayer is simply to pray using Scripture. There's nothing secret or nothing incredibly sophisticated about what he's suggesting in this method. It's just taking the Bible and praying the Bible back to God. And that's following Jesus' instruction.

Now there are two more things that I want to say by way of preface to our study today. We're going to be looking at the second petition, "Your kingdom come," in next week's article, but before we get there, as we think about praying the Bible, what Jesus said to the disciples in this passage also brings to mind two other things that we should look at first.



Priority in Prayer

The first is this: what Jesus tells the disciples to pray here point to a certain priority in prayer. In other words, our prayers should reflect the priority of God's kingdom in our hearts. First it is God and His glory, then it is us and our needs. First it's God's name, then it's God's reign, then it's our daily bread, our forgiveness, and our deliverance.

So the order that Jesus gives focuses first on God and His glory, then on us and our needs.

Now, that's hugely important because very often the thing that motivates us most in our praying is a sense of our dire circumstances and needs. My guess is, for most of us we are most fervent in prayer when we feel most troubled and vulnerable. And when we feel most troubled and vulnerable we focus on God getting us out of that trouble. Or, if we're a little more spiritual we pray about God getting us through that trouble. And when we pray like that, and it's of course very appropriate to do both of those things, the temptation is to view God as a means to an end. The end is us getting out of trouble or through that trouble.

And Jesus is saying, "Don't pray that way. That's upside down. Pray that God would be glorified in your trouble, that God will be seen to be great in your trouble, that you will see God's greatness, that you will see God's glory in that trouble. Yes, it's appropriate to pray for deliverance from that trouble. Yes, it's appropriate to pray for deliverance through that trouble, but your ultimate concern even through that trouble ought to be God's name, God's kingdom, God's glory, God's will being done "on earth as it is in heaven." And this is one of the ways that Jesus turns our prayers right side up because God is not just a means to an end. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and in the end what matters is that God gets the glory.

That means in prayer we want to translate our earthly trials and tribulations and struggles into spiritual categories so that as we pray for them we're praying ultimately for God's cause. For example, in a financial crisis you might pray:

Lord, I'm financially troubled. I do ask that You would bring me relief from these financial troubles, but it's more important that I see Your glory in this than I be delivered from this. It is more important that others see Your glory in me whether You deliver me from this or not.

You see the difference in that prayer? A prayer simply for God to deliver you in financial difficulty as opposed to praying for God to be glorified in your financial difficulty while still praying for the Lord to deliver you from it, but being able to say with the Lord, "Nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done." Why? Because God's glory is ultimate.

Now why do we have to pray, "Your will be done" whenever we pray? Because God is first, because God's glory is the most important thing in the world, and if we don't pray with that heart attitude of a concern for God's glory and for His will to be done prayer is upside down. This happens in prayer all the time. Prayer becomes an exercise of self-sovereignty rather than an acknowledgement of God's sovereignty. And Jesus, even in the order of this prayer, is turning prayer right-side up again. So I want you to see the priority of prayer.



The Pattern of Prayer

But secondly, I want you to see the pattern of prayer. I think a lot of us think that to be really spiritual prayer ought to be always spontaneous, totally unplanned. And Jesus, even in answering this question, makes it clear that that's not the case. He says, "When you pray, pray, 'Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us our daily bread. Forgive us our sins. Deliver us from temptation.'"

Now, notice that what He's just given you is a pattern of prayer and He didn't give words for His disciples simply to repeat by rote. In fact, in Matthew 6 He makes a point of saying, "Don't just repeat stuff by rote in prayer." Now we say the Lord's Prayer in public worship, but we don't say that because we think that Jesus was just giving us these words as a mantra to repeat every time we pray. Jesus wasn't just giving these as words as a mantra to repeat every time we pray. He was giving us an outline. A pattern for prayer. And just look at what He's given you.

He's first told you to pray, "Hallowed be Your name." What's that? Worship the Father in prayer - hallowed be Your name. Second, "Your kingdom come." Pray for the kingdom of you Father in prayer. Third, "Give us each day our daily bread" - pray for the provision of your Father. Fourth, "Forgive us our sins" - pray for the grace of your Father. And finally, "Lead us not into temptation." That's the protection of the Father.

So, look at the outline that you have. The worship of the Father, the kingdom of the Father, the provision of the Father, the forgiveness of the Father, and the protection of the Father. He's just given you Biblical categories to fill in with your prayer. Not just words to repeat by rote but categories.

One reason we say the Lord's Prayer together is so that those categories are so fixed in your mind that when it comes time for you to pray you don't just repeat those words by rote but you can fill in those categories with Scripture, Scripture that you have owned yourself so that the Scripture itself becomes your prayer and not just you repeating back the syllables that you find on the pages of the Bible. So we see here a priority in Jesus' prayer and we see a pattern that He gives us for prayer.