In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says that we do not pray to inform God about what we need: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Charles Spurgeon once said: “Prayer is not meant for the Lord’s information. The question is not put to you that you may instruct Him, but that He may instruct you.”
Jesus truly does instruct us on the nature of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, is not meant to be prayed, it is meant to be modeled: “Pray in this way,” not “pray these words” (Matthew 6:9). There is certainly nothing wrong with using the actual words of the Lord’s Prayer if your heart is in it. But make sure your heart is in it, not like the hypocrites and Pharisees whose heart was not in it (Matthew 6:5-7).
And when your heart is in it, as Jesus models in the Lord’s Prayer, prayer does a marvelous work to change you. You see, the whole point of the Lord’s Prayer (and prayer!) is not so much what you pray but what God wants to do in your heart to change you while you pray.
When you pray, for example, “hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9), you are first and foremost saying: Lord, I want Your name to be set apart as holy in my life. And I want to change my life in ways appropriate so that Your name is hallowed as holy.
Or, when you pray, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10), you are first and foremost saying: Lord, I want Your will to be done in __________. And so, in praying this, Lord, I am asking that You would change my heart so that it aligns with Your will.
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know that true prayer, prayer that bears your soul and heart to the Lord, is prayer that changes you. How many times have you come to pray with fear and anxiety, and by the time you close your prayer, your fear and anxiety has fled away? How many times have you come to Lord with sin and suffering, and after your pray, you feel peace and forgiveness?
Prayer is not only meant to get things from God. Prayer is meant to get things from you. Prayer is meant to change you!
If you missed last week’s sermon on prayer, you will find it here.