Focus of Prayer
By: Paul George
Most people focus on prayer only in response or reference to how it works; prayer for us has become a means to an end and that end is usually a selfish one. Prayer is some sort of a last ditch effort, it is kind of like a spiritual insurance policy, you are glad you have it; you hope you never have to use it. However, prayer is more than that; prayer is more than just the privilege of communing with God. Prayer is and always will be first recognition of God’s majestic glory and an act of submission to it. All our petitions, all our passions, all our supplications, all our requests, all our needs, all our trials, our problems are all subject, to God’s will. Unfortunately, most people think of prayer as an effort to bring God into line with their own desires, and this is a very predominant movement today in the church.
The Pharisees, the scribes, and the Jewish people who followed their teaching had taken prayer from what God intended it to be, and they made it into a man made perverted traditional exercise by which they drew attention to themselves. They used their prayers hypocritically to show how spiritual they were. They assumed that in their prayers they were informing God of things He did not know. They created a prayer that was illegitimate, perverted, substandard, non scriptural, and Jesus then in confronting them sets the record straight. He says, you are not praying according to God’s standard, now let Me set it right, here is how prayer ought to be verse 9, “Pray then in this way; first, Our Father.”
God is our Father, He is not some kind of a cruel, capricious, immoral being stepping on those who are His opposed subjects, but He is a loving, tender, caring Father, at His disposal all the treasures of heaven, for the behalf of His saints that His name may be glorified. Our Father then means that God is going to hear because He cares, “Our Father who is in heaven,” means He can meet our needs because He has unlimited eternal resources. You do not have to hound God, you do not have to bang away and do something to get Him to respond. He is a loving Father; He is best illustrated in that character in Luke 15 verses 11 to 32 where you have the story called the prodigal son.
Second, “Hallowed be Your name.”
Hallow is to set apart from everything common and profane, to esteem, to prize, to honor, to reverence, to adore as divinely and infinitely blessed the true and only God, and you cannot speak of God in earthy terms, you cannot drag God down to the street talk. God must have titles that are fitting for His power and His holiness. How easy it is in our lifetime to go through it saying, “Hallowed be Your name,” and have no idea what we are even saying. The truth of such a petition is that God is to have the rightful priority place in our heart.
How do we hallow His name?
First, we hallow His name when we believe He exists. You can never honor God; you can never exalt God unless you believe God exists. However, it does not stop there. You can believe that God exists and still not hallow His name. When you doubt God, when you disbelieve God, when you question God, and why He did something you are not hallowing His name; wrong thoughts about God do not hallow His name.
When Job in the 30th chapter of Job, the 21st verse said these words, “You are cruel to me,” he accused God of being unloving. When you think wrong thoughts like that about God, when you do not understand who God really is, you have not hallowed His name. When you allow into your conception of God things that are wrong and unworthy of God you are not hallowing His name. Professing Christians can do this not only by thinking wrong thoughts about God but also by not knowing who God really is. If you do not really know whom God really is you are going to doubt Him; you are going to question Him; you are not going to trust Him; you are going to be disobedient, and you are going to cause others to doubt God, and in all of that, you are not hallowing God. In order to hallow His name you must believe that God is, you must be aware that He is who He is.
Second, we hallow His name, when we are constantly aware of His presence, so that we live everyday of our lives hallowing His name. For most of us, our thoughts of God are sometimes very intense sometimes totally absent. However, to hallow His name is to draw conscious thoughts of God into every daily thought into every daily word, into every daily action. Do you see God everywhere? Do you hallow His name in your living? Is He made manifest constantly, everything you do, everything you say, everywhere you go, do you see God manifest? To hallow God means that we must believe that He is who He is, and that we must be constantly aware of His presence. However, you could do all of those things and still not hallow God’s name if you do not obey Him.
We hallow God’s name when we live a life of obedience to Him. That is the final key. You cannot come to the fullness of hallowing His name unless you obey Him. To say, I believe that You are, I believe that You are who the Bible says You are, I am aware of Your presence in my life, and then to disobey Him cuts off the capability of a person to hallow His name. You see the prayer is not just that God’s name be hallowed in heaven, it’s not just that God’s name be hallowed around the world, it is not that God’s name be hallowed in me, this is the prayer that says, God may I be a vehicle for Your holiness? That is where prayer begins.
How do we hallow God’s name, when both our doctrine and our life are truly Christian? When we have the right thoughts of God, we are hallowing His name. The first part of this prayer is, God, teach me the truth, and help me live it. “Hallowed be thy name,” means in me God, manifest Your holiness by my right knowledge of who You are, and my right living in response to it. That is why First Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whatever you do, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” That is the way we are to live; Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). “Hallowed be thy name,” means God be manifested through me, let the light shine through me so that I may glorify You. How do you do that? How do you obey in that way? How do you really let God be manifested through you, first, by living in obedience to His Word? The Bible says we hallow God by confessing Him as Lord. Second, we hallow God by faith. Third, we hallow God by bearing good fruit. Fourth, we hallow God by praise. Fifth, we hallow God by contentment. Sixth, we hallow God by the proclamation of His truth. Seventh, we hallow God by evangelism. Eighth, we hallow God by unity. Ninth, we hallow God by demonstrating the majesty and the glory of God so that others in seeing us will make the right judgment about whom God is and be drawn to Him.
Lord, teach us to pray.