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Priorities in Prayer
1. Relationship with God
The greatest prayer ever recorded in the Holy Bible is the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples the priorities in prayer.
He taught His disciples, “In this manner, therefore, pray:” He begins the prayer by addressing God, “Our Father in heaven,” He wants us to have a relationship with God who is “our Father” and we are His children. This relationship is established when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (Jn. 1:12) Jesus wants us to first acknowledge God as the Father of mankind by using the plural “our”. Jesus also calls God “Father” when He prayed (Lk. 22:42). Jesus’ prayers are addressed to “Our Father in heaven,” where He reigns as the Almighty God. We are praying to the One True God in heaven, and not to the false gods on earth. Having a Father/children relationship with God is the first priority of our prayer.
2. Give Glory and Honor to God’s Sacred Name
The name of God "YAHWEH" (I AM WHO I AM) was considered by the Jews to be so holy and sacred that they feared to pronounce it, but was invoked by the Jewish worshipers as ADONAI in Hebrew and translated in our English Bibles as "LORD". This name was revealed to Moses on Mount Horeb. God said, "This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations" (Ex. 3:14-15). Since it is God's “name forever” we can expect to call Him by this name in the future eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
“Hallowed be Your name.” When Jesus tells us that the Father's "name" is “hallowed” or holy, He means that the Father's whole Person is holy. "Name" can be used as a substitute for a person himself. To paraphrase, "Father, hallowed be Your name," means, "Father, may You be treated with the respect and honor that your holiness demands."
3. Pray for the Kingdom of God
In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus Christ taught the people, "Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”(Mt. 6:31-33)
Many people do not understand the nature of the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees asked when God's Kingdom would come. Our Lord Jesus Christ explained,"The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or ''See there!' For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you." (Lk. 17:20-21) The Kingdom of God is not like an earthly kingdom with geographical boundaries. Instead, it begins with the work of God's Spirit in people's lives and in relationships. Still today we must resist looking to organizations, institutions or programs for evidence of the progress of God's Kingdom. Instead, we should look for what God is doing in people's hearts. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom.
4. Pray to do God’s will
Before His sacrificial death on the cross the Lord Jesus Christ prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Mt. 26:39) In very difficult situations we must primarily ask for God's will to be accomplished, not ours. This means that we must enter prayer by faith and accept, in advance, that what we are requesting may not be answered the way we hope it will. We must also pray that we are moved into the will of God in every area of our lives so that our prayers might more accurately reflect the will of God.
5. Pray for the Bread of Life
Praying for “our daily bread’ seems to be a contradiction of what Jesus taught the people, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘what shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles see. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Mt. 6:31-32). In His temptation Jesus answered the devil, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4). Jesus told the people that followed Him, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (Jn. 6:27) The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Bread of Life. . . . This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.” (Jn. 6:48-50) Our priority in prayer to the heavenly Father is not so much for the physical bread that satisfies the hunger of our bodies, but more so the spiritual food for our spirits and souls.
6. Pray for God’s Forgiveness
Although our sins have been forgiven when we repented and were baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ, but we continued to commit personal sins. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:8-9) We should confess our sins every day and ask for God’s forgiveness.
Jesus reminds us of this important condition of God’s forgiveness. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, you heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mt. 6:14-15)
7. Pray for God’s Guidance and Protection
The prayer request to God, “And do not lead us into temptation” may be easily misunderstood. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (Jas. 1:13-16) Remember this, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13)
8. Pray for Deliverance from the evil one
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” (1 Jn. 5:18) The apostle Paul wrote, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18)
9. Conclude your prayer by praising God "HalleluYah"
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
This article is based on the sermon preached by Arkwriter to a congregation in Houston, Texas on November 1, 2009 during the TJC Evangelical Services and Spiritual Convocation.