The Pharisees were show-offs! They prayed, not to worship God and advance His kingdom, but to prove their own great spirituality. With puffed-up pride, they entertained their admiring spectators with their lengthy orations.
In response, Jesus said, “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.” Instead of standing on the “street corners to be seen by people,” Jesus instructed His disciples to “go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:5–6, CSB).
Jesus was not prohibiting corporate prayer. In fact, notice that the Model Prayer contains only plural pronouns. “Our Father” ... “Give us” ... “Forgive us” ... “Deliver us.” We must pray privately, and we must also pray together with other believers. Jesus declared, “Truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19–20, CSB).
As we enter our Father’s glorious presence, either privately or corporately, we begin by worshipfully proclaiming that God’s name is revered as holy! Then we pray that His purposes and plans shall be accomplished.
Obviously, the Eternal God and King created His kingdom. He controls it, orders it, and holds it together. “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11, CSB).
Practically speaking, how should we address the King asking for the accomplishment of the King’s will and purpose?
First, the rule and reign of Christ is advanced and God’s perfect will is accomplished every time a lost soul is plucked from the eternal fires of hell. We must pray for the conversion of souls. Pray for your lost neighbor or friend. Pray that the evangelistic work of churches and missionaries would be effective and fruitful. Pray that you would courageously seize the opportunity to share the Gospel with a searching soul.
Secondly, the rule and reign of Christ is advanced and God’s perfect will is accomplished when believers submit to the King’s leading, when Christians are “transformed” and “not conformed to the world” (Romans 12:1). We must prayerfully surrender our selfish desires and submit to the King! When we pray as Jesus teaches, we will continually pray that our lives will honor and glorify our Father in heaven.
Still need a little help? “The Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26, CSB).