Praying “Your”

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Jesus taught his disciples to pray in this way, “Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13) (emphasis added)

It’s interesting how often in the Lord’s Prayer the word “your” comes up. As a pronoun it is often overlooked, yet it is spoken three times in the first 14 words alone. While the focus is often placed on the noun being pointed to, it is still a gentle reminder of what the Lord’s prayer is focused on; your. The prayer is hoping for God’s name to be honored, for God’s kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done. Because everything, including the power and the glory, belong to God.

It’s interesting how this truth contrasts with many of our own prayers. Far too often our prayers are focused on us instead of God. We pray for wisdom. We pray for job opportunities. We pray for sicknesses to be healed and surgeries to be successful. We pray for bills to be paid. We pray for our churches to grow. We pray for successful trips in the car. We pray for things for us.

Admittedly, often we pray prayers of thanksgiving, yet even then we are thankful for things we have. We thank God for our food. We thank God for our families. We thank God for our home. We thank God for good health. We thank God for obtaining the job. We thank God for answering our prayers.

None of these prayers are wrong, and God wants to hear the desires of our hearts. It should even be pointed out that part of the Lord’s prayer does involve asking for daily bread and protection from enemies. There are even other times in scripture when Jesus will tell the disciples to ask God for anything because God can provide. (Even earthly fathers know how to give good gifts, how much more your Father in Heaven.) Yet when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the focus is not on what the disciples can gain by asking God for help. The focus is on God; God’s glory being revealed and God’s kingdom being manifested on this earth in a way that all become subjects of the one true king.

This becomes a change from our normal routine. We are good at running through lists of prayer requests. Many of us keep a physical, or at least mental, list of prayer requests that we continually bring before God. We petition God on a daily basis, calling for God’s intervention in our lives. We admit that we need God to survive. Again, there is nothing wrong with this mentality, but it does seem to provide a contrast to how Jesus teaches us to pray. Jesus takes the focus off of us and places it on God. Our prayers are no longer directed on us getting what we want but on God being placed on the throne over all the earth.

But I wonder, what would change if more of our prayer time was spent asking for God’s name to be honored and God’s kingdom to come than for our own personal wants and needs? I wonder if our attitudes would change if we spent less time focused on asking for what we need and more time focused on glorifying God? I wonder if our priorities would change if the first thing we did, and the last thing we did, was to pray for “Your.”

Part of the problem in our society is that we are self-focused. Everything seems to revolve around “me.” Praying the Lord’s Prayer however takes the focus off of self and places it on God. Our time is spent praying for God’s name to be holy and God’s will to be done. Our priority in life then becomes helping God’s name to be recognized as holy and God’s will to be done on this earth. It helps us to fulfill the role of image bearer, being God’s representative here.  So maybe we need to embrace Jesus’s teaching more fully and spend more time praying for “Your.”

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