Suppose your prayers were recorded and analyzed. What patterns might be found? Would balance be found in your prayers between worship/praise, intercession for others and intersession for self? Or would there be a disproportionate amount of time spent in one area? In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) we see perfect balance . In fact, as we analyze it we see an important priority given to praying about God’s concerns before praying for our own. There is nothing wrong in praying for our own needs, but this pray shows us the importance of praying for God’s needs first.
The first half of the prayer (Matthew 6:9-10) is talking to the Father about the Father and His concerns. The pronouns all point toward God: “Your” three times. Your name be made holy. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done. It’s all about God and His desires, putting Him and His plan first.
The second half of the prayer (Matthew 6:11-13) is talking to the Father about the family and our concerns. Pronouns such as “us,” “our” and “we” are used eight times. It is legitimate to pray for our needs, but not first and foremost. We can pray for provision (daily bread), pardon (forgive us) and protection (from temptation). These three cover anything and everything we’d need to pray for about ourselves. We pray for our daily needs in the present (daily bread), our forgiveness from sins in the past (forgive us) and to be with us against temptation in the future (lead us not into temptation).
Provision of daily needs takes care of our body, forgiveness of sin takes care of our soul, and protection from temptation cares for our spirit. Everything can be brought to God in prayer in the Lord’s prayer. But it is important to keep the order correct.
Praying for God’s concerns first isn’t just a technical requirement. When we start of thinking of God’s Holy name and how we can honor Him, the coming of His Kingdom and how we can advance it, and His perfect, all-encompassing will being done on earth and in our lives on earth as it is in heaven, our thoughts will be formed in such a way that most of the self-pitting, me-focused begging and complaining we call prayer will cease. Focusing on His power and love, His perfect plan, our desire to serve Him instead of having Him serve us, and the assurance of all that is to come will change completely how we pray about our concerns. We will leave encouraged, uplifted and motivated to serve Him instead of preoccupied with all our wants and difficulties. Try it and see if it doesn’t work that way for you. Always pray for God’s needs before your own!
(Written by Jerry Schmoyer, 2014. You can find more of his writings at http://www.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)