In the August 2010 edition of Power For Today Magazine, I wrote a cover article feature titled, “Lord, Teach Me To Pray.” In it I detailed the special way the Lord’s Prayer helps us to know what to pray for and how to pray. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with praying the words of Jesus as found in the Lord’s Prayer as a prayer themselves, I also know those words are a powerful launching pad and preparation in helping us learn about prayer and learn about ordered prayer. Recent revelation given by God has helped to bring that about even more. The past few weeks the Lord has been dealing with me about the issue of order in prayer.
When God first started teaching me about order, way back somewhere around 2006, He started with my issues of authority and leadership in my life. Prior to this time, it was safe to say I was a person who fought order and decency. I had issues with both because I did not experience proper concepts of order in leadership. What I was used to seeing was disorder passed off as order and proper authority. As He worked with me in one area at a time, God started to bring people into my life that modeled proper order. The same was true as we worked with other areas of my life that demanded a sense of decency and order. Now, as He continues to work within me and this work, He is showing me the same about ordered prayer. If prayer is our communication with God and we serve a God of order, that demands our prayer communication with God be ordered. We cannot expect to go to God haphazardly and disorderly and expect Him to heed our prayers and heed our requests…but that is exactly what is going on in today’s church.
To be honest, order in prayer wasn’t something I ever thought a whole lot about. It never occurred to me that God would teach us about order through prayer, but in reality, that is exactly what He does. In noting that prayer is to be ordered, it is shocking to realize how disordered people’s prayers and prayer lives often are. If we want to have victory over the devil, we need to take a long look at our prayer life with God and see where our communication with Him needs to change. What I am talking about here is not legalism. I am not saying we have to follow some kind of random, man-made prayer book full of long recitations. I am the first one to say that God doesn’t speak “King James” and we don’t have to use formal language or walk around with fancy wording. What I am saying is that our prayers must be ordered according to the Word, and that means that we need to see what Jesus was teaching us about through prayer and the Lord’s Prayer.
Luke 11:1: And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. (KJV)
The disciples came to Jesus asking about prayer because they saw Jesus praying. They also knew that John taught his disciples about prayer. Clearly, prayer was important to them – something so important, they recognized they needed teaching on the topic. That is the first key to communication with God: it is something we learn about from the Lord. That is order: we learn about prayer from the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we want to learn about right prayer, we don’t go to a million sources. We don’t go to the Buddhist shrine, or to the Hare Krishnas, or to visit the Imam at the local Mosque – we go to Jesus, and to those who have been rightly called to teach the Word, having been gifted to do so.
Luke 11:2: And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (KJV)
Next we see that in prayer it is essential to identify Who we are communicating with. I have been in church services that invoked any number of beings in their prayers – they will pray to angels, to deceased denominational members, to this, that, or something else – or will just not address their prayer to anyone specific. I have even heard of ministers or Christians who don’t want to properly address their prayers to God or Jesus because they are afraid they will ‘offend’ somebody else. Let’s think about this principle in terms of order. If I go to the phone to call someone, I am going to dial their phone number and call them by their name or ask to speak to them. I am not going to call someone else and hope the person I truly want to speak with will get the message. The same is true with prayer. If we are addressing our prayers to anyone but God, we aren’t communicating with God, we are communicating with any number of someone else’s. This is both dangerous and…well…unreasonable.
Hallowing the Name of God shows respect, as one’s name in ancient times represented the fullness of all that being was. It’s comparable today to celebrity status: everyone knows who a celebrity is and their work by their name. The same is true of the hallowedness of God’s Name, just in a bigger and more reverential way. We know God by His Name. We know the power of God, His fullness, and His grace and glory by His Name. This is our honor to God: we honor that Name. We refrain from its misuse, abuse, and from taking it in vain, making it empty and void. This means our personal conduct is relevant before we ever come before God. We cannot come before God with disrespect toward Him. That’s order!
Praying for God’s Kingdom to come is an action as much as words we say. If the Kingdom of God is within, among, and around us, we recognize God’s Kingdom comes through our belief, trust, and obedience to God. It means we ascribe to His ways and follow His principles for church governance and Kingdom living. This is often the most difficult area of prayer development, as many denominations and men have established their own concepts of order. They don’t pray for God’s Kingdom to come, but for their own Kingdoms to be built. Praying the Kingdom means receiving God’s enlightenment on what Kingdom truly is, especially beyond that which we may conceive, perceive, or want. It is humbling ourselves as His subjects, putting aside vanities and earthly desires to follow that Kingdom, wherever it may lead and however it may lead us. The Kingdom of God is God’s will on earth as it is in heaven; it is the will of God manifest this side of heaven and this side of the second coming. It is something, however, that we must align with and to; it is not as simple as sitting in a church pew all the time or reading the Bible like it’s a ritualistic novel. Recognizing the Kingdom and our part in the Kingdom as God’s will here on earth means the church and its people are called to become something more, something deeper – the meeting place of the natural and the spiritual, of heaven here on earth, and something profound. Being Kingdom should change, transform, move us to know God deeper and know His will. If we are truly Kingdom, what we seek should be of the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and believe that any and everything else in our lives will fall into place as we pursue the Kingdom.
Luke 11:3: Give us day by day our daily bread. (KJV)
I’m sure you noticed that the title of this notation is “Give us this day our daily bread.” The reason I have titled it as this is simple: there is a very basic principle of prayer found in these words. There is a distinct notation of order in prayer as we ask and receive day by day from God. It is common for us to make this passage about food, but its words are more than that. The Lord has revealed to me four very powerful principles to ordered prayer in this one verse:
Times and seasons – Part of God’s established order throughout time is times and seasons. This is where spiritual time meets natural time, and we can start to understand God’s work in our lives in a practical way. Asking God day by day to provide for our needs recognizes the seasons we are in and the times of those seasons. It also recognizes the unique needs for those seasons. Different days, different seasons, different times in our lives call for different needs, and God asks us to be spiritually in-tune with His Spirit to know what those needs are. When in a season, we need to focus on what is needed for that season – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Very often, however, when we are in one season of our lives, we are already trying to pray and invoke to pick from another season. Men and women of God, if you are in a spring season, you have to plant – it’s not time to harvest. A farmer can stand over his seeds and will them to be a harvest all day long, but they aren’t going to become one without planting. If it’s harvest time, you can stand over your harvest and pray it to become something new or different, but it’s not going to become that. Praying day by day means we are constantly reassessing where God has us, knowing His times, and aligning with those instead of trying to use prayer to force God to do something we want.
Aligning with God’s will and God’s work – A lot of the time people pray for things to happen just because we want them to happen. We don’t consider if they are for us at this time in our lives (not to mention possibly ever), nor do we consider whether or not those things may be good for us or others involved. Not only do we pray for that which is all wrong, we pray for God to do it now. God doesn’t work against people’s will. You can pray for that man or woman to become your spouse all day long, but if they aren’t interested in you, God is not going to manipulate that person to become your spouse. If it’s not your season for harvest, it just isn’t. If you are waiting for God to just drop something on top of you, you realize through prayer that God doesn’t work like that. If it’s a time to plant, you trust God to help you get out there and plant! Daily provision means we are trusting God to provide everything we need for this moment – this day – this time – this season – this assignment – despite what we see or don’t see. Asking God to provide day by day is a sign of humble submission, order, and obedience to His times and seasons, trusting that everything He gives will be just enough both now and in the future.
Knowing what we need – We live in a very want-based church and society, the church reflecting the society. People are extremely in touch with what they want, often material: they want a new car, a new house, they want better stuff, they want a bigger ministry, they want this, that, and something else…but they are extremely out of touch with what they really need. I know myself the temptation to start prattling off wants disguised as needs in prayer. We start thinking about one thing that is a genuine need and next thing you know, we’re off on fifteen other things that are really wants. We can discern need from want in one simple step: if we don’t need it for the day, time, assignment, and season we are on right now…it’s a want, not a need. Even if it’s something we might need for an assignment six months from now, that means it’s not essential to today, and it’s a want. Separating want from need makes God practical and it makes our walk with Him practical and Him accessible to us, even now.
Giving us a sense of God’s presence greater than ourselves in this life as we watch God meet our needs – God meets our needs. It’s His promise to us to give us the desires of our heart, and He meets that through our needs. Realizing that God cares enough about us to meet our needs – and watch Him do it – is awesome to behold.
Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (KJV)
Forgiveness is also key to prayer – both asking and receiving. We know that unforgiveness hinders prayers, and forgiveness grounds us to move forward. The very foundation to communication with God IS forgiveness, as in Christ, God has forgiven us. If we aren’t going to be people of forgiveness, we can’t be people effective in prayer.
The passage here about temptation is worded as such that many believe temptation is of God. That isn’t what is indicated – it is simply asking God to protect us from temptation and to withstand against it when it comes. There is no sin in being tempted, only acting upon it. Temptation is a part of life, and asking for God to help us stand against it is a powerful thing. Each time and season comes with its own unique set of issues and temptations, spanning so many various circumstances too numerous to count. We need to be honest with ourselves – and God – about the temptations we face and are facing. Pretending they aren’t there is like trying to ignore a big, pink elephant with a bow on its head sitting on your living room coffee table. If prayer is an ordered communication, we need to be honest with God in prayer. God knows the temptations you are facing and is there to help bring revelation and sort things out. Stop acting like you are never tempted to sin – and never give in to temptation. We all know we talk a lot about the ‘big’ temptations, but what about the temptation to gossip? To lie? To steal something from someone that isn’t tangible, such as their work or their vision? What about all those times we judge and criticize other people? Addressing temptation is a part of order because when we address it, we can deal with it.
Asking for deliverance from evil is part of resisting temptation, but also asking for God’s protection. We’ve all heard the expression, “New level, new devil.” This applies to temptation and to life in general. Many so-called believers today deny the existence of evil, and its source, the devil. This is a sign of disorder in and of itself. By recognizing the enemy, we recognize God’s power and sovereignty in our lives. It isn’t giving the enemy credibility; it is recognizing God as having the power to control and thwart even the negative and wrong that happens. The ultimate promise of deliverance from evil came through the Cross, and shall come through Jesus’ second coming and binding of the evil one once, for all, and for good when he is cast into the lake of fire. It acknowledges God’s plan, from eternity past to eternity future, and knows that God is ultimately in control, governing via His own ways and purposes. We may not understand them, but in order, we acknowledge them.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Prayer does not change God, it changes him who prays.” Since we know God does not change, it is God’s good intention to develop and change us, everywhere we need changing, as we connect and learn of Him through prayer. Seeing God’s order for us in prayer helps us develop a deeper prayer life and a deeper sense of God when we pray. If we will only look at the words here and see God’s desire for us to have more of Him in our lives, we will change. Our lives, our perspectives, our hopes, and yes, even what we pray for will change. God is calling us to order our prayer because we are entering a new time, a new phase, a new global seasonal shift (a paradigm). Jesus is coming soon and we all need to get these basics down so we are ready as that time approaches. As the global spiritual paradigm shifts, our individual seasons shift as well. We experience what we see in the natural in our own lives: the earthquakes, rumblings, explosions, tremblings, plagues, famines, and attacks all come against us, trying to throw our lives into chaos and disorder because the enemy knows if we find ourselves in disorder, we will be ineffective for the Kingdom. The ultimate call for our prayer needs to be to draw closer to God and hear from Him, as He has the answers to bring us to a place of order and effectiveness in all things…for Thine is the Kingdom, and the glory, and the power, forever…amen.
(c) 2012 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.