I’ve been praying all wrong. Shocking, I know. A church staff pastor/worship leader/Christian artist praying wrong? Absolutely.
I know supposedly there’s no “wrong way” to pray, right? Well, I’m not so sure. To be clear, I’m not talking about our choice of words — whether or not filling sentences with old-timey English is required to talk to God, or if it matters if you cry out or whisper your prayers. I think those types of things are up to you and that God hears them all. However, what I realized about my prayers is that they were usually starting in the wrong place.
With coffee in hand, sitting on about the fourth row (which is worth mentioning because you get extra points for sitting in the first five rows at church) in a small but thriving church plant, the pastor dropped a quote that seemed to weigh 1,000 pounds squarely on all ten of my toes.
In a message about prayer, he said this: “If God were to answer all the prayers you’ve been praying, would it change anyone else’s life but your own?”
It was then and there that I realized that my prayers were not prioritized correctly.
You see, my life and the things that concerned only me were at the top of a very short list. It made me wonder, “How much of God’s miraculous power are we unable to experience because we never pray prayers that are bigger than us?”
Now, of course, God is concerned with the details of our lives, and what a glorious truth that is! But, He’s much more concerned with His kingdom, will, and glory being expressed through our lives as we activate His power through our prayers on behalf of others.
When Jesus teaches us to pray, the first request Jesus leads us to make to God is a request for the kingdom of heaven to be present in the earth. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I realized I was praying all wrong because I had been missing the priority and emphasis on the “kingdom” in the Lord’s Prayer. I found that I always skipped to the line that said, “Give us this day our daily bread…” — you know, the part where we ask for all the things we want. In fact, if I’m being honest, most of my prayers have always been “daily bread” prayers and not “kingdom come” prayers.
If we want to see more of heaven present in humanity, we need to touch heaven on our collective behalf, not just our own personal behalf. The world needs followers of Jesus praying beyond the scope of our own lives. We must pray kingdom prayers.
In the world in which we live, with the deep issues and problems we face, we often look to governments, kings, policies, presidents, and world systems to cure the symptoms of the spiritual depravity present in humanity. The truth is, we will always come up short hoping to cure the ills of society with man-made systems.
There are many strongholds that dominate our culture. We often point to a people group or a person on which to place all the blame for the issues of our culture. However, the Bible teaches us that it is never merely a person (“flesh and blood”), but spirits (“principalities and powers”) that we actually fight.
Spiritual issues require spiritual solutions. The answer to spiritual strongholds is prayer. It will do more than politics, protests, or even pulpits. Practical solutions are good and necessary to manage symptoms, but they are ultimately inadequate in overcoming them.
When we pray, let us pray kingdom prayers, prayers that invite the dominion of heaven to rule over the things of the earth. In the very spirit of Christ, let’s consider the plight of others before we submit requests for our own lives. Perhaps solutions to the deepest needs of humanity can be found in the prayers we have yet to pray.
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