The Most Important part of Prayer
When our Lord taught us to pray, He outlined a specific prayer, a quite simple prayer, to keep our priorities and attitude properly aligned in our prayer life. What can we learn about prayer from our Lord’s teaching on prayer.
1. The foundation of prayer is the orientation of our life toward God’s rule and reign.
Jesus taught us to pray by saying, "Our father in heaven hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This prayer is entirely about aligning ourselves with the Sovereign Lordship of God and submitting our lives to His agenda. Here is the key to our spiritual lives and in fact our peace and happiness. The purpose of prayer is first and foremost our own repentance. The key to daily living is to turn from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.
How to achieve this alignment of our wills!
It is important to know that such alignment of our wills does not come with the words of our prayer but with the actual act of alignment. Jesus Himself says that it is not the words that matter. The Father already knows what we need. Prayer is a spiritual discipline to condition our person in meekness and worship. A key to this exercise is to realize that the opposite of self-centeredness is not 'non-self-centeredness" but God centeredness. To rest in the place of God-centeredness requires spiritual vision. What we are seeking in this exercise is a right view of God. Such a view of God is dependent on the Holy Spirit.
So the second point I would make is that such an orientation is not about words but about a view of God that brings what the bible calls “the fear of the Lord”. This fear of the Lord is a joyful place of acknowledging and seeing in our person the greatness of God and accepting His perfections.
The possible content of such a meditation is almost infinite. We might think of His wisdom in sending Jesus that He might be both the “just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus. Or His love in sending Jesus to make a way for our abiding forgiveness. We might thank Him for our lives and our experience of life. We might be thankful for His faithfulness in our lives. We might read a healing story from the life of Jesus and simply meditate on God’s compassion. We might praise for being a God of justice and mercy. BUT most importantly, we must be aware that the Holy Spirit is working with us to help us to worship God and to see His excellencies.
The Acceptance of God’s Will
I prefer the term acceptance to the term surrender when it comes to the orientation of the will. So often we stumble over the term surrender as in “total surrender”. We always will ask ourselves “Am I totally surrendered?” if we believe that surrender is a doorway to the blessed life, but acceptance is a more precise description of what is really happening.
“Lord, what ever happens in my life, whether good or bad, health or sickness, favor or persecution, all of this I accept as coming from Your hand and an opportunity for Your kingdom to come”.
We accept two essential realities in life. We accept all our circumstances which come to us. We accept that significant people around us are spiritually sick. We desire their spiritual healing and desire their spiritual maturity but first we accept them just as they are. We are absolutely tolerant of all people. Here is our peace.
Secondly, we accept God’s declared will, His word. We accept the word revealed in Jesus to love unconditionally. In this acceptance, we have come in alignment with God’s providence and His commands. We see trials as opportunities and difficult people as the most in need of our acceptance and love. We see difficulties as the moment when we can Glorify God and show His love.
This alignment of our wills is something we do more than daily but it is helpful to formally do as a spiritual discipline at least morning and night if we expect to abide in Christ and His word and thereby bear fruit to the Glory of the Father. The goal is to learn to walk during our day in these attitudes with prayer being a focused and directed time of orientation.