What is Christian Prayer?

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The following are a few observations from Matthew 6:7-8:

And when you pray, do not chatter like the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Therefore, do not be like them.  For your Father knows which needs you have before you ask Him.”

    • Christian prayer addresses God as Father.  Jesus says in Matthew 23:8, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.”  In 6:9, Jesus highlights that Christians are the members of one household, because they are fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).  Therefore, we can all join voices and call upon our Father in heaven (Eph 4:4-5).
    • Christian prayer sanctifies God’s name.  This sets the tone for the rest of the prayer.  The highest prayer of Christians is for God’s name to be set apart as holy.  To pray for God to “sanctify” His name is not to hope that He makes it more holy than it is.  It is rather a prayer that God would manifest the holiness of His name in all places.  In Isaiah 8:13, the prophet says, “The LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy.  Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”  For God to sanctify His name is to elevate His throne in our hearts.  This part of the prayer can also be interpreted as praise, as in, “Lord, we revere your name!” and an invitation, calling everyone to do the same.
    • Christian prayer desires for God’s kingdom to be made manifest.  In the context of Matthew 6:10, God’s kingdom on earth is not the establishment of His sovereignty, because everything is already under His control. Rather it is in the spreading of His saving presence on earth, by which He casts Satan from our hearts and reclaims His rightful throne.  Christians greatly desire for this to happen.  Reflecting on Psalm 103, we see that in heaven is nothing but praise to God.  As God’s kingdom is established by His Spirit awakening God’s elect, His revealed will is done on earth.
    • Christian prayer relies on God for sustenance.  In Matthew 6:11, Jesus emphasizes that Christians are to desire no more from God than what they need for daily sustenance.  He speaks Proverbial wisdom.  See Proverbs 30:8: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say,“Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”  In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells of a man who stores food for years but disregards God.  The prayer in Matthew 6 calls for us to ask for the amount of food to keep us in balanced reliance upon God.
    • Christian prayer asks for forgiveness, but not while withholding forgiveness.  It is incompatible for a Christian who has a full grasp of God’s mercy to expect God’s forgiveness while withholding forgiveness from others.  Within the Sermon on the Mount, in 6:21-26, Jesus says that reconciliation with one’s brother is the highest priority when bringing an offering to the altar.  For Christians to utter our Father, they must, as far as they can help it, become reconciled with one another.
    • Christian prayer trusts God for protection from Satan.  Matthew 6:13 refers back to Christ’s temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4, in which He is led to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  This prayer does not mean that Christians are guaranteed a life void of temptation, for not even Jesus had that.  But rather, Christians despise the presence of the devil and his evil schemes.  They long to be separated from his presence, and they know that God is the only One who can “bind the strong man” (Matt 12:29).

Written by keywoodblog

September 28, 2011 at 1:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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