Asking for the Best!

Posted on July 31, 2012 · Posted in Prayer

The word best is a commonly used word. But during Leap Year, best becomes even more common. Leap years occur every fourth year. In Leap Years since the beginning of the United States, we elect Presidents, all of our U.S. Representatives, one- third of our Senators, and countless other state and local officials. Since the advent of the modern Olympic Games, the Summer Olympics also occur during leap years. We hear the word best frequently! Who is the best candidate, the best swimmer, runner, jumper, skater, or the best ______?  So, in this election year, this Olympic year, how can you use the games to teach your children what is best in life? Only one person can win each Gold Medal, but we all need what is best in life.

Another context for the word best is often missed. God commands us to pray for his glory. He want us to bring every event, attitude, circumstance, action and thought into obedience to him, so that our lives will make his name the very best name of all. If his name, his kingdom, is considered the very best by his people, then we can give God no greater honor. Someone might be thinking, “I am not sure I remember that prayer.” Well,—you probably do remember the prayer, for it is the Lord’s Prayer!

The Lord’s Prayer, given in Matthew 6:9-13, is only fifty-seven words long. Its truth is clearly and simply stated. This prayer in Matthew 6 is a model, teaching us how to pray for what is best in life. Jesus says earlier in the chapter that the prayers of his people should not be like the babbling prayers of the pagans, which overflow with many words. “Many words” offer no guarantee that your prayers will be heard. Trust that your Father in heaven knows exactly what you need before you ask him. He knows what is best. While it is important to come to God in faith, with specific requests, it is also important to realize that informing God of how much you need something, with numerous words, will not improve the quality of your prayer.

This is an important lesson for your children to learn. God knows exactly what you need and what is best for you—before you ask. He is committed to helping you according to his will. He is not impressed with many fine-sounding words. What Jesus is teaching you about prayer is that prayers should be made with simple, direct words.

We read the words of Christ, “Our father in heaven.” From this we learn that God is our father. He is not our mother or best buddy, He is our father! And he lives in heaven. Therefore, he does not reside here, even though he is always here.

When you pray you pray to your father. He is in heaven but he is also here. He is in heaven but he hears your prayers. You have an earthly father, but you also have a heavenly father. He is in heaven so there is more to life than what we see on earth.

You are praying to Someone who is the best! His greatness is so great that there is no one to compare him to; he is simply the best.

Wow! You are praying to someone who is not like you and is not limited as you are. You are praying to someone who is wondrously great, the best. You are praying to someone who can actually answer your prayers. When you pray to God, you and your children are on hallowed ground. You are on the best ground there could possibly be.

Your Kingdom Come

The idea that sinful people like you and me can come before the holy God, ruler of the universe, the (ne who is best, and ask him to hear our concerns, should be a humbling experience. God in his faithfulness has not left us without clear direction in how we are to approach him in prayer. What a wonderful privilege and blessing; we learn that we can pray to our father and that Jesus tells us how to do it.

In verse 10 of Matthew 6 we read:

Your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

To pray effectively, in a way that honors God as hallowed, we must pray that God’s purpose and plan must prevail, not our own. In other words, praying for his kingdom to come is praying that he will bring about the best of everything according to his pleasure. Even though we should pray continually as I Thessalonians 5:18 directs, the reality is that we often come to God when we have a problem. This is often how your children begin to pray as well. It is vitally important to realize that the solution to our concerns lies not in our understanding of what is best, but in God’s understanding of what is best. If God is our heavenly father, if he is the King, then it is his plan, his rule that you should desire above your own. In other words, why would I want to trust my solutions as opposed to what God has planned?

Stress this point to yourself and to your children as you meditate on the meaning of this verse. By crying to God that you want his kingdom to rule and his will to be done, you are implicitly saying that his purpose and plan is better than your own, they are the best! Let me repeat that. God’s way is better than your way. As Jehoshaphat prayed over 2,500 years ago, we may not know what to do but our eyes are upon God. He alone is the one we can trust. He alone can do what is best.

It does not work to say to God, “Please do your will and mine.” This is actually a presumptive statement. It is God’s kingdom and his will that we must desire above all else. This thought ties directly to Christ’s words just a few verses later in the Sermon on the Mount; seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And, as we see in Christ’s most challenging moment here on earth, he submits to his father and says, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Christ was being totally consistent with what he taught his disciples.

So, when your child prays for a particular request, great or small, teach him what Jesus taught his disciples. It may be for someone to win a particular race or event. Or the prayer might be for the hamster not to be sick, it may be for the sun to shine, it may be for Mommy to feel better, it may be gratitude for the food God gives; it may be for God to safely bring home a loved one from war.

Whatever the prayer, the best conclusion is always that God’s will be done.

Teach your children that their prayers, their wants and desires are best met when God’s kingdom rules and his will is done. One can never be too young or too old to rest in this great truth.

Pray for God to bring his kingdom to those of us who so desperately need him, who need his best. This is a beautiful and comforting place to be for Leap Year—your kingdom come, your will be done. Then, when you celebrate all the special events of this Leap Year, remember that His kingdom makes any time and any place special.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.