In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus helps us understand where our requests should begin. After establishing that God is our heavenly Father who as compassionate as he is capable, Jesus reminds us that God’s power aims to advance his agenda, not ours. Jesus shows us that Christian prayer begins with longing for God’s presence before his provision. 

All the requests at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer are god-ward. Take a look:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:9-10)

This removes man from the center of the picture. It displaces our needs and desires, reminding us that the most important things about prayer are not what God gives us by way of his possessions, but what God gives by way of his presence. Throughout the Bible, the people who gain peace and security in this life are the people who long for God’s presence more than his possessions. Jesus teaches us this in his first three petitions in Matthew 6:9-10.

It is easy for churches to fall into competing agendas and conflicting affections. A community of sinful, not-fully-sanctified people living in close proximity will step on each other’s toes. A diverse Christian community has a diversity of affections, which leads to a diversity of visions. Yet this conflict falls by the wayside when we pray as Jesus taught.

If your life’s primary concern is to make your name great, you will be uncomfortable in the Christian community. After all, being sinned against is inevitable. But if your primary concern is to make God’s name great—to advance his honour, kingdom, and purpose in the world—then the presence of sin in your community, perhaps even your own, offers an opportunity to advance his agenda by a Christ-like response.

Jesus sets the priority and agenda for our prayers. As churches come together and pray in line with the Lord’s prayer, we are reminded of this shared desire: for the King of kings to come and rule. We plead together for God to take his rightful position in our families, in our churches, and in our world. It recalibrates our compasses and synchronizes our watches, so that we are all headed in the same direction. It brings unity. It reminds us that no matter our circumstances—rich or poor, old or young, married or single, majority or minority—we all need the same thing: God’s precious presence.

*Adapted from Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church by John Onwuchekwa.

This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:

Monday: Jeremiah 26 Thursday: Jeremiah 29
Tuesday: Jeremiah 27 Friday: Jeremiah 30
Wednesday: Jeremiah 28 Saturday: Jeremiah 31