Author: Charles Hegwood
We do not often equate the Kingdom of God and our prayer life. We must answer the question of what does Kingdom minded prayer look like for the life of a follower of Jesus. Of course it should come as no surprise that Jesus has answered this question in several gospels. For example in Luke Jesus is modeling how to pray for His disciples. In Matthew, the focus of our discussion today, the context is the Kingdom of God. As we begin to dig into Matthew 6:5-15, we will see what a kingdom minded prayer is not and what it is. The main idea of our discussion is that unlike the hypocrites we should pray to the Father with His honor and Kingdom in mind.These are the prayers God hears and they change the way we talk with others.
What Kingdom Prayer is Not
Interestingly, before Jesus told His disciples what prayer is, He first reminded them of what it is not. If it was important for Jesus it must be important for us as well. People were praying. Prayer was not a new concept to the first century Israelite or the Gentile. But not all prayer is created equal. According to Jesus we should avoid praying to achieve adoration from others. This problem is not so foreign to us today. Imagine the person who stands up to pray and they give a great elegant prayer that is more of a performance than it is a genuine prayer. In Jesus’ day people would pray to be seen as holy and respected. Jesus’ response is to pray in private. Now Jesus is not suggesting that public prayer is wrong. The problem was the attitude of the person praying. Your attitudes toward your prayer are important too. Attitudes and motives matter. Remember, as we will soon see, we pray not to others, but to an audience of one; the Father.
The second way not to pray is to not babel on and on. You may have experienced this. This is the person who gets up to pray and rambles. It is a salad of words and ideas. The use of the word ‘babel’ has the connotation of trying to capture God’s attention. This is a sputtering of words with the hopes of manipulation and pestering God. Jesus warns there is no need for this. The Gentiles pray in vain anyway. The Father listens to His children. You do not have to use many words or even fancy words to capture His attention or bend His arm. After all, God knows what you need before you ask. These are two attitudes and ways to not approach the Father. Then how are we to pray?
What Kingdom Prayer is
The word ‘therefore’ connects to what we just read and discussed which then progresses the conversation to what Jesus is about to say. Jesus will now utter the words that many a person can recite without much thought. I prayed this prayer with my marching band every Friday and Saturday during the Fall in my High School years. I often wondered if half of the people praying that prayer had given much thought to what it means. Have I? Have you? The ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is much more than just a prayer to recite; it is a guide to deep conversation with the Father.
Words we say and so often overlook. We have become so desensitized to calling God Father that it does not mean much anymore. However, when Jesus told His disciples that Kingdom-minded prayer began with calling on God as Father, this was revolutionary. You would not have called God ‘Father.’ They did not think of God in this way. Yet Kingdom-minded prayer prays to our Father. We get to call Him Father. Marvel at the fact that we get to call on the King and creator of the universe Father. We are His family. We are His children. Pray not to a distant God in hopes that He may hear. Instead, call on a God who comes near and desires to be close to us. That should cause us to sit in amazement.
“Your name be honored as holy.”
We pray for the honor and glory of our Father. We do not pray from selfish ambition. The goal and hope of every prayer is that God would be lifted high. After all, this is how Jesus prayed while on earth. We want to realize that the Father is set apart from creation and perfect in all ways. As we pray kingdom-minded prayers we must keep God’s goodness and holiness at the forefront of our minds.
“Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
As we pray with the kingdom of God in mind, we pray for God’s will to be done. It will be done regardless of our prayer, but the beauty is that Jesus is welcoming us into the workings of the Father when we pray. We get to pray to unleash the will of God. We pray with the Kingdom in mind. We pray then with a purpose. What do I mean? Our prayers are not aimless and wandering, but driven with the glory of God and His purpose in mind. May we capture a kingdom vision for our prayers.
“Give us our daily bread.”
It is okay, even welcomed, to pray for our provisions. Kingdom-minded prayer incorporates what we need to accomplish God’s goals in this life. Jesus was preparing His disciples for a life of on the go ministry.
Application of Kingdom-minded Prayer
Wait, you skipped verse 12 and 13, you may be thinking. Well not quite. Verse 12 and what follows becomes the way prayer impacts our daily life. It changes the way we talk to other people. As we ask the Father for forgiveness we also forgive others as well. Look at verse 14 for reference. Jesus locked in on our forgiveness of others reflecting the heart of someone who prays to be forgiven and to forgive. Our prayers are not to be empty. They have purpose. Our prayers should promote change in our lives in how we interact and forgive others.
As we conclude our discussion of kingdom-minded prayer, we must realize that the follower of Jesus prays differently than the world. The glory and Kingdom of God drive our prayers. Our prayers drive us to engage the world around us as one who has truly met with the Father, the King of all Creation. This conversation with the Father leads us to forgive and show God’s love to a lost and dying world. Your prayer life will be reflected in your daily life.