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What To Ask For (Part 1)




Prayer is, at the same time, the simplest thing and the most difficult for us to understand and be consistant in. Most of us understand the need to pray but also really struggle with what to pray for or even with the effectiveness of prayer. Like most of the things we struggle with, we tend to think we must be the only ones struggling with it. We go to Church and see people pray and think I wish I could pray like that. We read books about how fantastic prayer is and start feeling guilty about our prayer life. That being said, we can find comfort in the fact that the Apostles also struggled with this, and they were with Christ himself. Throughout the gospel accounts, there is only one time the disciples specifically ask the Lord to teach them how to do something. They ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. In the context of this request, Jesus teaches them, and by extension us, the Lord's prayer. It is our template for prayer. Last week, we started to dig into the Lord's prayer by looking at who it is that we are to pray to. We pray to our heavenly Father in the name of the Son and in the power of the Spirit. But what are we to ask for?


The First Petition


In the Lord's Prayer, there are six different petitions or requests. Each one is an example of the things we are to pray for and the attitude we are to have when we come in prayer. The first petition sets the stage for the rest of the prayer. So, what is the first petition?

Hallowed be Thy Name. That is: Grant us first of all that we may rightly know Thee,[1] and sanctify, glorify, and praise Thee in all Thy works, in which shine forth Thy almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth.[2] Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life-- our thoughts, words, and actions-- that Thy Name is not blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised.[3]

Sometimes, we think about this part of the prayer being part of the opening. That is, we do not think of it as one of the prayer requests. However, the structure of the prayer makes it clear that this is indeed a request. We may not think it is a part of the request because it seems to be more of an acknowledgment than a request. This is partially true. We should indeed acknowledge that the Lord's name is hallowed. But we also need to understand that prayer is an acknowledgment by its very nature. We are coming to the Lord and saying only you can do this. I cannot do this, and I need you. But "Hallowed by your name" is more than an acknowledgment. The word hallowed is a request. It is saying let this be done. As the Catechism states, it is a request that we might know the Lord more, and in that knowledge, we might glorify and praise the Lord in all his work.


Going a little deeper


All of creation exists for the glory of the Lord, and our primary purpose is the same. This is why it is essential to get this first petition right. We are asking not only that the Lord will glorify his own name but that we will be a part of that glorification. We are asking, help us make your name holy. The opposite side of that is the request that we would not be a cause of dishonor to the name of the Lord. Our heart's desire should be to honor the name of the Lord in everything we do. The catechism goes as far as to mention our thoughts, words, and actions. This is certainly something we need to be in constant prayer about. Our actions are the easiest to control, not that it is easy. But our thoughts are seemingly impossible to control. Here we find another aspect of prayer. We are asking for God to do what only he can do. We are asking for the amazing and the impossible. Far too often, our prayers consist only of things like healing my friend or granting me patience. While these are things we should pray for, they fall short of the magnitude of our God. In the Lord's prayer, we start with a request for the greatest of things. That the Lord would be glorified, that his name would be hallowed. We ask that he change our thoughts to glorify him and honor him in everything we do.


Summary


As we continue to talk about prayer over the next few weeks, we are going to be continually hitting on its deeper purposes—the acknowledgment of God as the one who is sovereign and our dependence on him. More than that though, I want you to understand that we serve the Lord of all creation, the Lord God Almighty. He is all-powerful and all-wise. What is impossible for man is possible for God, so come boldly and ask for the impossible. Ask for him to change your thoughts. Ask for him to build his kingdom. Ask him to provide for all your needs. And trust that he will do what is best. Sometimes we do not receive because we do not ask. Sometimes we do not receive because it is not what is best for us. So ask. Ask for the name of the Lord to be Hallowed in everything you do and in every part of the world. Ask constantly, praying without ceasing. Then watch and see what he will do. Do not become discouraged when it does not happen the way we think it should, but give thanks both in the yeses and noes. My prayer constant prayer these days is that the Lord would build Weaver to be a beacon of his glory. That he would use us to minister far and wide so that, above all, his name might be glorified.


Soli Deo Gloria


[1] Jer. 9:23, 24; 31: 33, 34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3. [2] Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11: 33-36. [3] Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16.

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