Putting God First in Our Requests to Him
“In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Jesus puts God first in this prayer with three requests: Make Your Name honored as holy, bring Your Kingdom, and do Your will here. As we look at the first of the requests that He teaches us to make on our own behalf, we can’t forget that “Father first” priority by which Jesus lived and grounded this prayer. Why do we want our heavenly Father God to give us our daily bread, one day at a time? It demonstrates trust that He will provide for us and empower us to see Him honored on earth and in our lives.
This prayer of Jesus teaches that we are to pray “this day” and “daily” when we present our creature needs to our Creator and heavenly Father. Jesus ends the sixth chapter of Matthew with this same emphasis in verse 34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Live one day at a time.
In this first personal petition the Lord is using the symbol of bread to represent all our needs. Bread is a metaphor that should not be limited to our need for food but applied to all the needs we have as creatures of God. We must have bread to sustain our bodies every day, and we must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time. The next three requests obviously apply to our spiritual needs: forgiveness, guidance, and deliverance. The spirit of this part of the prayer is: “Give us this day our daily bread, including our need for forgiveness, guidance and deliverance.”
According to James 1:13, God is not tempted with evil and He never tempts any man. Jesus is not saying in Matthew 6:13 that we need to beg God to not lead us into sin. Our sin-nature takes us there normally and forcefully. Instead, Jesus teaches us to pray “Lead us, Father, and we will be delivered from the plans the enemy of our souls has for us.” He gives us a way out.
Jesus taught us to begin and end our prayers with a God-first mindset: “Your kingdom come,” and “Yours is the kingdom.” “For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, Amen,” is a solemn pledge to God that the glory of answered prayer will always belong to Him.
The prayer Jesus taught challenges us to be sure to address our prayers to God the Father. We are not instructed to pray to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit. We are instructed to address God intimately as our perfect, loving heavenly Father. We are then to begin our prayers with three providential, or God-first petitions, which are: Your name, Your kingdom, and Your will. Those three providential petitions are to be followed by four personal petitions: Give us, forgive us, lead us, and deliver us. Finally, we are instructed to conclude our prayer(s) by confessing, “Because the power to answer my prayer(s) will always come from You, the result will always belong to You and the glory will always go to You. So be it!”
Do your prayers focus on God first? Which request in the Disciples’ Prayer do you often miss? Spend some time focusing on that request today.
Take a moment to pray the Disciples’ Prayer, meditating on each thought.
This post is adapted from a lesson of the Mini Bible College, an online study of the whole Bible. We highly recommend their audio resources and written materials, available in many languages, to anyone who wants a stronger understanding of the Bible.