“Dear God, I pray that you will be with me in this maths test I am nervous for.” 

“I pray for my friend who is currently sick, may you restore her health.” 

“Lord, I pray for my future, that I may get into a good university and find a godly spouse.” 

If you’re anything like me, these prayer points probably sound quite familiar. I often find myself voicing out my needs and wants to God in prayer. However, the more I learn about and understand the true purpose of prayer, I realise the scary truth that many of us may be guilty of treating God as some mere magical genie that can grant us all our heart’s desires. 

Of course, it is not wrong for us to be voicing out our physical needs to God. He knows of those needs and will provide for us like he provides for the rest of His creation (Matthew 5:25-26). But, praying is so much more than that. 

Prayer is one of the most important means of grace, and it is through prayer that God guards and preserves the spiritual relationship between us and Himself. It is also through prayer that the Holy Spirit enables believers to receive Christ, and in Him, the blessings of redemption. 

Prayers Pointing Back To Him – The Lord’s Prayer 

If there’s only one point you take away from this article, let it be this: All our prayers should ultimately point back to God and His glory, because our life’s purpose is to glorify His name. 

Our church’s catechism class recently did an exposition on the famous Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), which is the prayer that Jesus taught us. It is a prayer many of us can probably recite off by heart, but how often do we really reflect on its structure or meaning of its lines? 

To put it briefly, the Lord’s Prayer can be split into two main overarching themes: concern for God’s glory, and concern for our needs. 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) 

The prayer begins with the expression of concern for God’s glory. We pray that God’s name be glorified as it should be through our understanding of His truth, and ask that God’s will and kingdom comes into our lives through the preaching of His Word and our obedience to it. Notice how the concern for God’s glory comes before petitions for any of our own needs? This prayer teaches us how we ought to pray –  with God as the priority right from the start. 

“Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:11-13) 

Next, the prayer speaks of concern for our needs. We can ask God for our needs for the day, because we are taught that all our physical needs are provided for by God. But even more than that, we are taught to ask for our spiritual needs, such as for His forgiveness and help during times of trial. 

“For Yours is the kingdom and power and glory forever.” 

The prayer ends with the doxology – the return of all things to God’s glory. Jesus teaches us here that after lifting up all our petitions, everything is ultimately for the glory of God. 

Reflecting on this prayer truly made me realise that though we don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer word for word in our daily prayers, we should pray with the same framework of heart. Whether we are praying for a hard exam or a good future career, may we not focus on the petitions themselves, but on the giver. Let us first seek Him (Matthew 6:33) and surrender everything to God so that whatever the result, it is in accordance to His will and brings glory to His name. 

Praying with Persistance 

We also often hear that we should continue praying in perseverance, but what does that even mean? Does it mean uttering the same prayers every day just as routinely as brushing our teeth? Not quite. Praying with persistence is to pray without ceasing. It means to keep praying even when we’ve had a long day and just don’t feel like it, or if our prayers yield no visible results. 

We have an assurance in God’s promise that if we pray with the correct attitude of heart, and with perseverance, He will certainly give us an answer. 

I am reminded of an analogy where persistent prayer is likened to a court case, where the plaintiff and defendant are both fighting hard for an outcome that they want. Even if the trial process takes years, they are patient and continue to persevere, putting in all their energy and resources until the final verdict is given. Much like us in our prayer lives, we don’t know when our prayers will be answered, or what the final ‘verdict’ will be. Sometimes we may be given what we want, other times we may be disappointed, or told to wait a bit longer. But in hindsight, whether the outcome is good or ‘bad’, we will discover that all things are part of His sovereign plan for our good. 

So, I challenge you to join me in praying with purpose and persistence. Not just praying for our physical needs to get through the day, but more importantly, raising petitions that align to the contents of God’s heart: for His will to be done in our lives. 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) 

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