[Exclusive] Building a House of Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer

 

Building a House of Prayer

Eighteen Prayer Models for Approaching God’s Throne

Author | Dr. Joshua Young-Gi Hong

<The Lord’s Prayer>

 

“A prayer changes not only the person who is praying but the person who is prayed for.”—W.B. Freeman

 

The Lord’s Prayer instructs us to follow the teaching of the Lord Jesus on how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is a textbook case of prayer, which Jesus taught us, saying, “This, then, is how you should pray:” (Matthew 6:9-15, Luke 11:2-4). This is not a prayer of formality or an accessory to a worship service but the Magna Carta of prayer that should be the example of all prayers. The Lord’s Prayer has its significance not in that the Lord prayed it but in that He gave it to us.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer

The origin of the Lord’s Prayer is as follows. One of the disciples of Jesus came to the Lord and requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Why did the disciples not ask Jesus how to preach or how to heal the sick or how to drive out demons? Instead, why did they ask how to pray?

Because the foundation of Jesus’ ministry—preaching the Word, healing the sick, and driving out demons—was in His prayer. Jesus did not leave this world to live like a hermit. The Lord spent a very busy life. Nevertheless, prayer was His priority in His ministry. The Lord began everything with prayer (Luke 6:12-13; Luke 9:29; Luke 22:39-46).

If you take the prayer that the Lord taught us as your example prayer, you can pray to God profoundly for a long time. The Lord’s Prayer can be a form of prayer that becomes the model and inspiration for all other prayer. Before we delve into the words in the prayer, we need to first understand the right attitude for prayer.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 1

How You Should Pray

When the Lord said, “Pray like this,” He did not mean, “Pray in verbatim.” Instead, He gave us an example to use to set our own content and sequence. In other words, He was referring to our praying mind and attitude. There are people who can recite the Lord’s Prayer but do not know its meaning. As Martin Luther mentioned, the Lord’s Prayer may be the greatest “martyr.” Many people recite the Lord’s Prayer from memory yet lack understanding of its true meaning. Ultimately, it suffers martyrdom. Jesus did not say, “This is what you should pray,” but said, “This is how you should pray.”

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 2

Checkpoint for Our Praying Attitude

The Lord taught on two kinds of wrong prayers before teaching the Lord’s Prayer. The first was the Pharisee’s perfunctory prayer. Jews used to have praying times set at the third hour, the sixth hour, and the ninth hour and had a temple of prayer called the synagogue. The traditional Jewish religion believed that God would hear them only at the synagogue. It is very beneficial to set praying time and place; but what is more important is the significant content of the prayer.

The second was the pagan’s babbling prayer. The Greek word for to babble is battalogeo, and it is from the Hebrew origin. Phat Pat is used in Hebrew to describe a situation in which a child does not understand what the parents are saying but tries to imitate the words of the parents. Jeremiah noticed that the most wicked form of prayer is a perfunctory prayer. People’s lips speak to God, but their hearts are far from God (Jeremiah 12:2). Is your prayer a wrong prayer? If you have been praying with an empty heart, it is no use praying for a long time. We need to examine if we are praying perfunctorily, babbling, or not praying at all.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 3

A Prayer in a Holy Closet

Then, how should a Christian pray? That the Lord taught us to pray secretly, unseen and quietly, before teaching the Lord’s Prayer has a special significance. Sincere fellowship with God is obtained through a personal and secret prayer. There is a saying that “modern people who have lost their hideout with God will lose their spirituality as well.”

We do not have time together with the Lord in our own hideout or have conversations with the Lord in a closed room of our heart. Consequently, we will grow spiritually weak. God’s heart is with a person who prays. God loves us as if there is no one like us in the world and treats as such. A closed room means a secret hideout that can be seen only by God. By entering this secret hideout, we can come close to God. God our Father “is there” in secret and “sees” us in secret (Matthew 6:6—“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”). God our Father is with us before we pray and sees us. In this age, sin is committed in secret but prayer is seldom given in secret.

A genuine closed room signifies our mind not the physical space. Wherever we go, we can make our own closed room for prayer. No matter how quiet and secret the praying room is, if our mind is occupied with worldly desires and problems, we cannot offer a genuine closed-room prayer. Because a prayer is our personal meeting and conversation with God, we need not be aware of what other people think of us. A continual prayer does not mean babbling prayer and repeating insignificant words to God as did pagans. It is a secret prayer in a closed room within us. We can experience the presence of God and enjoy the happiness of being with God in this closed room. Now let us take the journey into the world of prayer as our Lord taught us.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 4

The Dwelling of God: “Our Father in heaven”

You will pray to “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). The Jews were so fearful of God in the past that whenever they came across the name—Yahweh (Jehovah)—they immediately exclaimed “the Lord.” When the Lord Jesus called God “Our Father,” it might have sounded foreign to the disciples.

I believe this part is the most important among all the teachings of Jesus on prayer. Jesus told us that when we pray to God we have to think of Him as our Father. The Lord introduced God as our Father and used to call God Father often (Matthew 11:15; John 11:41). Jesus taught us to call God our Father and to pray to Him as His children. How wonderful it is to have God, the Lord of Hosts, as Our Father who created the universe and humans! Thus, you have to pray like this: “Oh, God the Father, thank you for being my Father. I sincerely appreciate you, who has the power and love to create all the earth and heaven and creatures, for being my Father.”

Father “in heaven” shows us that God is distinguished from mankind or any other creatures. Our God is infinite, holy, and eternal God of absolute sovereignty for all creatures. When we pray “Our Father in heaven,” we can affirm the following facts. The first is God’s love, and the second is God’s answer to our prayer. How could I be afraid and worried when my Father God loves me? What kind of worry and anxiety would there be as long as I trust and serve God? Conviction for our Father will only bring the conviction of our prayer to be answered.

Notice the possessive “our” in “Our Father in heaven.” The Father is not only my Father but also the Father of others. Thus, all Christians are one family in God. We have to introduce “Our Father in heaven” to non-believers so that they may also call Him “Our Father.” While praying this, we have to realize our duty of mission. Our Father in heaven! Through this confession, we have to affirm our identity as children of God and gain the strength for mission.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 5

The Glory of God: “Hallowed be your name”

Next, we have to meditate on God’s glory. The name of God entails His character, honor, and glory. The Lord taught us to pray for sanctification (hallowing) of God’s name before seeking His kingdom and righteousness. Additionally, the Lord taught us to pray for God and His glory before our personal needs or requests.

What does it mean to hallow God? God is already hallowed enough. It means that we honor God by living a holy life separating ourselves from secular lifestyles. Martin Luther once said on this verse, “The prayer also signifies our duty not only to praise and glorify God but also to be sanctified to testify our Holy God through our life.” For example, if the eldest son of a president uses drugs and takes bribery, he disgraces his father and the country his father leads

Likewise, in order for us to hallow God, we have to live entirely by God’s will. “To hallow God is to treat God as God,” as Pascal said. Nominalism in Christianity weakens the power of evangelism and trust in the Church. Ultimately, it perverts God’s glory. Thus, you have to pray like this: “Lord, I repent for not raising your name through my life. Please let the remainder of my life truly reveal the glory of the Lord. Let me not be a nominal Christian but a sincere disciple of Jesus.”

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 6

God’s Kingdom: “Your kingdom come”

Next, we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom means the places of God’s sovereignty. God’s kingdom has already come through Jesus Christ and will be completed with the Second Coming of Jesus. Thus, God’s kingdom is for the present and for the future. When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying for God’s sovereignty to reach all aspects of our lives. Then how can God’s kingdom expanded?

Above all, God’s kingdom must be expanded through each one of us. Expanding God’s kingdom is possible through obeying God and spreading the gospel. When you live the life of being governed by God’s sovereignty, God’s kingdom will be expanded. Also, when we spread the gospel of salvation to non-believers, God’s sovereignty will be expanded.

Whenever you pray, the realm of Satan on earth will shrink and the realm of God’s kingdom will expand. You have to pray for the Church to do the work for God’s kingdom as an agent of God’s kingdom.

  • The people of God’s kingdom have the following characteristics:
  • First, all people will recognize Jesus as Christ in God’s kingdom (ministry of evangelism).
  • Second, all people will obey God’s sovereignty and be disciples of Jesus Christ in God’s kingdom (ministry of being a disciple).
  • Third, there will be no illness or disease (ministry of divine healing).
  • Fourth, everyone will responsibly serve God with his or her duty and calling (ministry of using God-given charisma).
  • Fifth, everyone will worship and praise God to the fullest in God’s kingdom (ministry of worship).
  • Sixth, all people will be one in God’s kingdom regardless of race, gender, or social status (ministry of being one).
  • Seventh, in God’s kingdom there will be no war or conflicts but will be the world of Shalom where God’s peace rules (ministry of peace).
  • Eighth, God’s kingdom will be a world in which God’s justice prevails (ministry of justice).
  • Ninth, all creatures and eco-system will be restored to their perfection in God’s kingdom (ministry of environment).
  • Tenth, God’s kingdom will be the world in which God’s love rules and people serve each other (ministry of love).

Let us pray and put our best effort for the above characteristics of God’s kingdom to be revealed in our society through church ministry. We have to pray so that God’s kingdom will come to the Church as well. The Church itself is also the object of our mission. Currently, there are 1.8 billion Christians in the world, but only one billion attend church regularly. It is estimated that only 700 million among those the billion are born-again Christians. This means about ninety percent of people in the world do not believe in Jesus Christ the way they should. We have to pray for the restoration of the Church and testify the gospel. We can pray like this: “Lord, let our church and churches around the world deal with the calling to expand God’s kingdom adequately. Let my life be of complete obedience to God’s sovereignty. Let God’s kingdom come to my life, my family, my church, my city, my nation, and my world. Above all, let God’s kingdom come soon, please.”

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 7

God’s will: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

Next, we have to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives. God’s kingdom is the place where God’s will has been done completely. It is not so on earth yet. On earth, too many pray, “Let my will be done over God’s will.” Thus, there is much darkness, sin, pain, and suffering everywhere on this earth. The darkness of mankind is caused by ignorance of God’s will. When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth, we are requesting ourselves to fulfill the duty of being Christians.

Thus, the Apostle Paul proclaims in 1 Corinthians 3:9, “We are God’s fellow workers.”

We have to pray so that God’s will be done through us. To achieve this mission, we have to learn how to obey. In order to learn how to obey, we have to learn how to pray. We have to keep praying. Only through our prayer can we discern God’s will. Only through our prayer can we be empowered to let God’s will be done. Those who pray become great fellow workers of God. In order to pray the verse, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we need the attitude of the Apostle Paul toward life—“I die everyday” (1 Corinthians 15:31). We can pray like this. “Lord, let your will, not my will, be done.” We have to request earnestly to God that God’s will be done for our prayer topics.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 8

God’s Blessing: “Give us today our daily bread”

Now, the Lord’s Prayer shifts the focus from God to humans. The Lord taught us our first attention should be focused on God, for His glory, His kingdom, and His will should be our priority in our prayer. It does not mean that our needs and personal matters should be excluded from prayer. God, our Father of love, wants our happiness and success. Thus, the Lord teaches us to pray on the following three points—first, our daily bread; second, forgiveness and reconciliation for a good relationship with God and others; and, third, protection from dangers from the environment and attack from Satan.

The Lord teaches us to pray for “our daily bread.” He did not teach us to pray for weekly or yearly bread. Daily bread means the food that we need absolutely for the day. This implies that God fills our needs. It’s not wrong to pray for something that we need. It can be a training to rely on God.

God fills our needs but does not satisfy our greed. When God does not give us all in a lump sum at once but gives daily, He does not want us to be self-sufficient but to rely on Him entirely and humbly. Thus, Agur prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” (See Proverbs 30:8.) Like the Israelites, who gathered manna every day (Exodus 16), our journey of life should seek God’s help day by day.

We also have to pray not only for physical food but for spiritual food. We have to pray so that our soul will get along well and our life will be filled with joy through prayer and the Word of God. Jesus said, “My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34). Likewise, we need food for our soul.

We also have to pray for food and needs of others. To whom does God give daily bread ? It is to us.

We should not only pray for our own wellbeing but also for the needs of our family, relatives, saints of the church, and all the people who are suffering in pain and poverty.

We can pray like this, “Lord, please provide me with what I need. It is you who gives me food, clothes, and even my life. I cannot have anything to enjoy without you. Please help me to assist and share with others by giving me food for my spirit. Lord, please provide food to people living in poor countries, and please allow Christians to lead a life of sharing.”

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 9

God’s Forgiveness: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”

Next, we have to pray for God’s forgiveness. We commit sins every day. Here, what I mean by sin is not our fundamental depravity but sins in our daily life. We can live only by having both daily bread and daily forgiveness. If the daily bread gives our body peace, then daily forgiveness comforts our soul. Even if we have plenty of daily bread, we will not feel at ease if our conscience is bothered by our sins. We should pray while meditating on the meaning of this verse.

First, this verse means that we are forgiven in God’s amazing grace and mercy. We have to make a confession of thanksgiving to God’s love.

Second, if we have sinned, we have to confess it to receive the joy of being forgiven (Psalm 32:5). Pascal said people can be divided into two categories—“hopeless sinners” who have sinned but deny their sins and “hopeful sinners” who realize and agonize over their sins. If we do not repent of our sins, then there will be a problem in having fellowship with God, and our spiritual life will be dried out.

Third, this prayer teaches us that we need to have mercy to forgive the sins of others. The proof that we realized the need for forgiveness is that we also forgive others who have sinned against us. If I have received full forgiveness by God’s amazing love, then how could I not forgive others who have sinned against me?

A time for a prayer: “Jesus, we thank you for forgiving and saving a wretched sinner like me who was to perish in death. Despite your grace, I have sinned again. Lord, please forgive me. And, there is someone who has wronged me. Please give me the power to forgive that person.”

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 10

God’s Protection: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

After being forgiven, we should not fall into temptation or sin again. If we are touched by the joy of being forgiven but fail to safeguard against the attack of evil, we can commit the same sins again. Thus, forgiven saints should have an awareness of sins all the time and be on guard to confront temptation and evil.

There are two words for test in biblical Greek. The first is a trial that comes from the Lord. The purpose of this test is for our benefit and growth. So, if we can pass the test, there will be a great benefit. Thus, the writer of the Epistle of James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). The second is a temptation that comes from Satan. The verse “lead us not into temptation” refers to a test from satanic temptation—peirasmos in Greek. Since the main subject of this test is evil, we have to pray to deliver us from it. If this word, peirasmos, is used in masculine form, it means an evil one, i.e. Satan. However, if it is used in the neuter form, it means an evil thing or deed. Regardless, the basis of evil is Satan.

We have to seek God’s protection from Satan’s attack of flaming arrows, targeting our soul deep inside. You may pray the following prayer: “Lord, please hold me from Satan’s temptation and snare. Please cover me up with your precious blood. Please cover me with your blood from head to toe today so that this day may be another day of victory in Jesus.”

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 11

God’s Glory: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen” (Matthew 6:13, KJV).

Now we are at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. This benediction is to praise and glorify God. All our prayer is possible through God, His kingdom, His Power, and His Glory. In closing, let us offer unto God our wholehearted thanksgiving and praise.

“Lord, I offer all the glory and honor to you. There is no one like you. Only the Lord alone be glorified! Thank you for answering my prayer and blessing me. I give thanksgiving to your everlasting love and grace. May I glorify you with my life. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”

The Amen at the end of the Lord’s Prayer does not signify the end of the prayer. It is reaffirmation of all we prayed. In other words, it is a proclamation of our will to live in expanding God’s kingdom according to God’s will. A sincere confession of Amen can be the spark to ignite our spirit afire.

 

The Holy Place of Prayer 12

Those Who Cannot Pray with the Lord’s Prayer

Elmer Towns (Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough: Daily Praying the Lord’s Prayer as a Pathway into His Presence, Regal Books, 1997, page 141) speaks of the following people, who are not qualified to make the Lord’s Prayer as their own prayer:

If you don’t know Christ . . . you can’t pray, “Our Father.”
If you glorify yourself . . . you can’t pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.”
If you reject His rules . . . you can’t pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
If you won’t submit . . . you can’t pray, “Thy will be done.”
If your life is only for here and now . . . you can’t pray, “On earth as it is in heaven.”
If you are self-sufficient . . . you can’t pray, “Give us . . . our daily bread.”
If you won’t forgive . . . you can’t pray, “Forgive us our debts.”
If you seek sin . . . you can’t pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”
If you are a friend of evil . . . you can’t pray, “Deliver us from evil.”
If you build your own kingdom . . . you can’t pray, “Thine is the kingdom.”
If you want power . . . you can’t pray, “Thine is the power.”
If you always take credit . . . you can’t pray, “Thine is the glory.”

 

We have to check if we are qualified for the Lord’s Prayer before giving the Lord’s Prayer. The success of our life does not depend on our achievements or position but on our relationship with God. There is a void in our life that only God can fill. We have to charter our course of life centered on God through the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Checkpoint of Prayer

As previously mentioned, we should not regard the Lord’s Prayer as magic. While meditating on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer, we must pray for its application in our life. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of setting our priorities straight so that we change ourselves to glorify God and to satisfy His will before requesting God to bless us and to fill our needs. Thus, we need to check if we are good in God’s eyes whenever giving the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Sweet Rain of Grace

The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that Jesus himself taught. Thus, it is more effective than any other prayer. If we can pray and live by the Lord’s Prayer, then we can be a great person of prayer. To be a person of prayer means to be the person who lives by God’s will. In addition, when we do not know what to pray or unsure, the Lord’s Prayer can be a great alternative. That is because it is the greatest example of all prayers.

 

Praying Time

If we pray the Lord’s Prayer in the correct way, we can pray at least an hour. However, it can be prayed in a relatively short period of time. For example, we can pray the Lord’s Prayer in a subway train. If we pray deeply and slowly while meditating on it, we can finish in three to four minutes.

 

Closed Prayer Room

  1. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer taught by Jesus. We can pray with it while meditating on its meaning word by word.
  2. Example of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thank you God for being our Father. Please guide us so that we may live a life seeking your kingdom and righteousness above all.”
  3. My Lord’s Prayer:
  4. The Order of the Lord’s Prayer
    Praise (Hymn or Chorus).
    Confession of Thanksgiving
    Reading the Lord’s Prayer
    Carrying out the Lord’s Prayer
  5. Self-illumination
    Did I pray the Lord’s Prayer as if I deal with a magic spell?
    Did I pray focusing on God’s glory over my need?
    Do I have a firm conviction that God is my Father?
    Am I changing to live by God’s will through the Lord’s Prayer?

 

One Last Word on the Lord’s Prayer

We can get nearest to God by entering a room to pray and closing the door before starting to pray.

 

To be Continued…

 

6 Comments

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