Blueprint for prayer includes three personal petitions

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David Chancey

Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.” Jesus knew the importance of coming face to face with God in prayer. He taught prayer and practiced prayer.

If Jesus the perfect Son of God needed to spend time with God in prayer, how much more do we need to spend time with God in prayer?

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus gave a blueprint to guide our praying. He taught us to address God as “Our Father.” This opening was a radical departure from Old Testament thinking and praying. Only 14 times in the Old Testament was God referred to as Father, and then the reference was His being Father to the nation, not to individuals.

The first three requests deal with God’s glory: hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. Then come the three personal petitions. These two sections are connected. We’re praying, “God, glorify yourself in providing our daily provision, in your constant forgiveness and in your leading in our daily lives.

The first thing we request is daily bread. These petitions bring God into daily life, for God wants to be involved in every aspect of our life. The word bread can be taken as a broader term meaning all our physical needs, especially whatever basics we need today: a roof over our heads, a job, a specific financial need, or transportation.

Jesus did not invite us to ask for the luxuries of life. Growing up, as Christmas season approached and the Sears-Roebuck and J. C. Penney Christmas catalogs arrived, my brothers and I grabbed “The Wish Book” and made our Christmas lists. We’d circle what we wanted and add items as we anxiously awaited Christmas day.

My parents always said, “You can ask for anything you want but don’t expect to get everything you ask for.”

Jesus said to ask for bread, not for cake. This petition reminds us that God is the source of every blessing we receive.

Along with daily bread, we also ask for God’s forgiveness. This petition reminds us before we can go further in prayer and spiritual growth, we must confront and confess sin in our lives.

There’s an old story about a scorpion and a frog who met on the bank of a stream. The scorpion asked the frog to carry him across the water.

The frog asked, “How do I know you won’t sting me?”

The scorpion replied, “Because if I do, I die, also.”

So the frog let the scorpion on his back and halfway across, the scorpion stung him.

As the frog started to struggle, knowing they both would drown, the frog gasped, “Why?”

The scorpion answered, “Because it’s my nature.”

We are sinners by nature and by choice, so we need God’s forgiveness, but Jesus reminds us we also must be forgivers. “Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us.”

“AS” sets up a comparison between the way we forgive others and the way God forgives us. How much we forgive others determines to what extent God grants us forgiveness.

Whether we realize it or not, we are praying, “God, deal with me the same way I deal with other people who have hurt me.”

In addition to forgiveness, we finally ask for protection from temptation, meaning an enticement to commit evil. With this petition, we pray for protection from Satan’s trickery or schemes, affirming our weakness and pleading for the greater power of God.

We pray for God’s power to resist temptation and to flee from evil. “When I am tempted, please give me strength to resist and make the choice that is pleasing to you.” Also, we’re praying for faithfulness to pass the test when trials do come.

What is your greatest temptation and how are you resisting it? Are you fleeing from evil and leaning on God’s strength to pass the temptation test?

These three petitions remind us of our total dependence upon God. When we fail to pray these basic petitions, we indicate that God really doesn’t matter and we’re depending totally on ourselves. Which describes your life?

[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, in Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park, and invites you to join them this Sunday for the “40 Days of Prayer” study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad and like them on Facebook.]