To pray is to recognize that you’re weak, helpless and dependent on God. This goes against your natural inclinations, because since your childhood you have been taught to be independent and, as an adult, you read self-improvement literature. Praying goes against that natural trend; it is denial of self-sufficiency.
Jesus teaches that praying is not repeating words like pagans do. Praying is not hypnotic chanting like a Tibetan mantra, nor using magic words or secret formulas for releasing some kind of cosmic energy. Prayer is not the Christian's Shazam or Abracadabra. Praying is to communicating our needs unto God, sitting beside him and talking about them.
But why pray if God knows beforehand what we need or will ask? Because he wants to see dependence in us, and because he likes when we talk with him. God is a good listener. To pray is to do the opposite Adam and Eve did in Eden. They wanted to be independent from God, self-sufficient and masters of their own fate. Prayer puts us back in our original track.
Before teaching the prayer known as "Our Father" Jesus condemned the mere repetition of words, so the "Our Father" prayer is not to be repeated. It is a model of how to pray. It is not the "what" but the "how."
The first step is recognizing the position God occupies in heaven -- above us -- and of his holiness, a word that means separation from evil. It is the equivalent of acknowledging that our interests may not be the same as God's, who sees the whole picture from above and knows better than we do what is best for us.
This is the reason for the expression "your kingdom come" and nothing else. Heaven's interests should prevail over Earth's. First, we recognize what God is and that he has the first place. Then, we ask for the supply of our physical needs and protection, and between these two things there comes a plea for forgiveness.
This forgiveness is not the judicial forgiveness of our sins, which we receive by grace through faith in Jesus. Here it is a kind of parental forgiveness. It is the momentary condition upon which we receive what we are asking for. It's as if your father said, "My son, I won't give you the bike until you make peace with your little sister."
But how to forgive? With the forgiveness of someone who has already been forgiven themselves with the judicial and absolute forgiveness. To understand this better, see how the apostle Paul puts forgiveness in his letter to the Colossians: "as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." From the justice standpoint, I can only forgive because I have been forgiven.
Have you been forgiven of all your sins? This full and absolute pardon is only possible because Jesus died in your place and rose again for your justification. The first thing God wants to give you is forgiveness, so this is the first thing you should ask him for, if you are not sure you have been completely forgiven.
In the next 3 minutes you will hear about the treasure map.
"And the Lord gave me an answer, and said
Put the vision in writing and make it clear on stones,
so that the reader may go quickly.". Habacuque 2:2
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