“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
‘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 also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“…Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:7-13,31-34
Empty words and recitation of listed needs come from a shallow understanding of prayer, and minds caught in default fear, fretting, and performance. Jesus breaks into these meaningless habits and rote thinking with a fresh model for focus and order. He wants to be known, and calls us away from the crowd of public opinion and spiritual ‘experts’ to learn directly from Him how to pray so we will. It begins with worship.
When we approach Almighty God with an overflowing wheelbarrow of needs that we have contrived according to what we deem urgent or necessary, and dump the pile between us, the heap sits stale and blocks our view of the Holy One. We ask over and over the same requests like much song song, and fail to listen or consider new avenues of faith or work the Lord may be designing. We recite written or pre-made prayers like lines in a script, and wonder why we leave unfilled. What would happen if we came instead with empty, open hands, bowed knees, expectant and adoring hearts?
Would we first hallow the Lord Himself? Are we consumed with the Ruler and Master of all, His splendor, greatness, limitless power, glorious excellencies, infinite characteristics? Exalting His name will set our hearts aright, do away with triteness, capture our passion with eternity, and steer us with divine perspective.
Once I have claimed ‘my’ Father by faith, my prayer is God-focused until I’ve yielded to His will. Then turning to self, I bring my needs, confess my sins, and commit to fidelity, assuming His supernatural protection and strength. There are no empty words when our requests align with submission to His plans and methods. There is no worry, no anxiety, when His righteous kingdom is desired and sought. All our cares are swallowed in His superintendence of my life.
What names and attributes of my King will I extol and allow to penetrate my consciousness and desires, and shape my requests?
God Almighty, I revere and esteem You above all I can conjure on my own. Refresh my prayer time to bring You glory and avail much in line with Your good and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2; James 5:16)