by Roger Severino
- We are encouraged to approach God as “Father.” That may not sound that significant to us, but it was pretty radical coming off the lips of Jesus to His disciples. Though the concept of God as Father is not absent in the Old Testament or prior to Jesus, the intimacy of “Abba, Father” is a drastic introduction. We approach a good, loving, and merciful Father. Prayer is relational.
- We must honor God as holy when we pray. To honor His name as holy is to honor God as holy, because in biblical language the name represents the person. Recognizing the holiness of God is recognizing that He is separate from us, and that He is perfect. The intimacy of calling God “Father” is balanced by the recognition that we approach Him with deep reverence and respect (even fear, in the right sense).
- God desires that we pray for His work to be done on earth. All things in heaven are in submission to God’s sovereign and perfect rule. Take one look around you, and it is pretty clear that this is not how things are where we live. What are God’s views about justice? About love? About people turning to Him and away from their destructive path? About the blessing of well-being for all, including those on the margins of society? How should this guide your prayer?
- We trust God for His provisions. We worry about a lot of things. Most of our anxieties in our society are first-world problems, not where we will get our next meal. Trusting God for His provision of our needs (not necessarily our “wants”) demonstrates that we have faith and trust in God, and that we are satisfied with what He provides. We pray for these things because it demonstrates our reliance on God for His provisions.
- Forgiveness is an important key to life. Most of us know that we are in desperate need to be forgiven by God, not because we are axe murderers, but because of the selfishness, lust, greed, and pride that reside within us. But Jesus doesn’t let us simply receive forgiveness. He demands that we demonstrate it to others. In fact, the test of whether we understand that we have received God’s undeserved forgiveness is that we forgive others in the same way.
- We look for God’s help to overcome evil. God’s great desire for His children is that we be conformed more into the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29). To become more like Jesus, we must surrender more of ourselves to God and allow Him to transform us. That means that we look to God to help us overcome temptations and to persevere through trials.