“And He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”—Luke 11:2-4 (ESV)
Like many boys, my dad taught me how to ride a bike when I was young. I started with a tricycle, graduated to a bike with training wheels, and eventually to a real “big boy” bike. One of the earliest lessons my dad taught me about riding a bike was to look where I wanted to go. If I wanted to turn right, I needed to look to the right. If I wanted to turn left, I needed to look to the left. I quickly learned that whichever direction my head and eyes were pointing, the rest of my body (and bike) would follow.
In the same way, Jesus gives a similar instruction for our own lives through what we call the Lord’s Prayer. His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, and He responded with a short but profound prayer. The prayer that Jesus taught them was a Kingdom-of-God-centered prayer. It revolved around God’s desires for the world and for their lives, rather than just a list of things they wanted. They were instructed to focus on God’s holiness and majesty, and pray for His will to be done in the world. The only part of the prayer that was directed toward them was for God’s provision and forgiveness. In this prayer, Jesus essentially teaches: “Pray in the direction you want your life to go.”
If we are only praying for ourselves, our lives will only be about us. We will be so focused on our wants, needs, desires, inconveniences, etc. that we will miss out on what God has for us. More than that, we will probably be sorely disappointed when God doesn’t answer our self-focused prayers. However, when we are praying for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done in our lives, our perspective will be much different. We will be looking at the world through a Kingdom lens, we will see opportunities to be involved in God’s Kingdom here and now, and our lives will be directed accordingly.
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