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A Better Purpose for Prayer

A God whose purposes center on us could either be a cosmic referee, eager to catch us enjoying ourselves too much and call us “out of bounds,” or a genie, making us happier and more comfortable while we await heaven. Either way, we’re glad the real God has a better plan than that.

The “abundant life” Jesus offers (John 10:10) begins when we see everything as "God-centered.” God's concern with our sin is over the heart-alienation it reveals (John 14:15; Galatians 5:16), and because it’s harmful to us. (Proverbs 16:25, Romans 6:23)

Jesus’ model prayer for His disciples, called the “Our Father” or “The Lord’s Prayer,” (Matthew 6:9-13), is not a magic formula to be repeated to gain His favor. Instead, it teaches us how to relate to Him. Let’s look at it:

It starts with worship

Our Father in Heaven, holy is Your name.

This prayer isn’t a wish list. It starts with His greatness. He's our loving Father; at the same time, His name is holy. 

It’s His will that should be preeminent

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven

God has a great plan for the world. It includes something for you to do on the way to becoming who He wants you to be. Imagine how much better things would be if we all lived this way. Could an unrighteous request follow this? 

We ask for the things we need

Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

After considering our relationship to Him, His holiness, and His plan, we ask for our own needs. “Daily bread” means the basics: food, clothing, and shelter; be aware every day that He is the one who provides.

Forgive us our debts,”  reminds us that He has graciously forgiven our sins—a “debt” too large for us to pay. Jesus' perfect life and shed blood paid that debt forever. Because He lives within us, we can forgive others and be set free from bitterness and broken relationships.

We ask for protection

And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Though we are God’s children, we still sin. We need His guidance to keep us away from tempting situations. We have an enemy, Satan, whose goal is to "steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10). God can protect us no matter what we are going through. Remember: prayer is all about Him, His power, His praise, His Kingdom.

Do you think a God-centered prayer is more likely to get answered? When we relate to Him in a better way, we know Him better and love Him more.

Prayer is such a huge part of a Christian’s life, and it’s helpful to do it alone as well as with someone else. Jesus said, “I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)

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