Whether you feel competent to pray or not, it is always beneficial to rethink prayer – what it is, how to pray, and how not to pray. It is also good to be reminded that the number one object of our prayers is God Himself and His will. R. C. Sproul, in his usual manner of making difficult issues relating to theology and the Christian life accessible to us, has done a good thing in these ten chapters on prayer, focusing on the model prayer we know as the Lord’s Prayer.
If you remember the context of the prayer, the disciples, feeling a bit inadequate in their prayer life, came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray. Jesus responded, “When you pray… pray then like this.” Sproul suggests that the disciples obviously saw the connection between Jesus’ extraordinary prayer life and His power, actually His whole teaching, His character, and His whole person. Prayer was a vital part of our Lord’s life and should be the same for us. And yes, prayer does involve not only the heart but the mind as well. We need to understand certain things about God and ourselves. Our prayers are not about us but about Him. Actually, with these instructions we are reminded that the Sovereign God invites us into His presence. Also notice that Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question was not for them to pray this prayer but rather to pray “like this.”
Jesus gave them an eight point model prayer, not to be repeated simply by rote but to help them remember who God is, who we are, the reality of our sins and the need to seek first His kingdom in everything. Prayer is not first about us. As Sproul points out, you have to go a distance into the prayer before we are included; but Jesus does elaborate on the kind of things that can be included in our prayer life, things that can and should have priority.
If we carefully study this prayer, we will learn a great deal about the Lord. He is our Father, He is the sovereign and holy King of the kingdom, and His will determines all things that come to pass. One example will indicate how valuable Sproul’s expositions are. In the chapter entitled “Your Kingdom Come,” he declares we must pray for the kingdom that is already here. The coming of Christ the King will come in its fullness at the end of the age. In the meantime, this petition implies we are to bear witness to the reality of Christ’s present kingship over all while we await His return. Sproul points out, “The only way the kingdom of God is going to be manifest in this world before Christ comes is if we manifest it by the way we live as citizens of heaven and subjects of the King.” Referring to Calvin, Sproul reminds us that the church’s task is to make visible the invisible kingdom.
While God does not need our praise and adoration since He is the all sufficient God and His existence does not depend on us, the marvel is that He wants us to serve and follow Him. He wants our adoration, reverence, and love.
Jesus modeled the importance of prayer to us and gave us instruction to help us have a more meaningful prayer life. This book of expositions on the Lord’s Prayer will be an encouragement to you and enrich your prayer life at the same time.