When Jesus says this is how you should pray Christians should take notice! The idea that sinful people like you and me can come before the holy God, ruler of the universe, 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 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 and not our own. 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?
This is the point to stress to yourself and to your children as you contemplate the meaning of this verse. By crying to God that you want his kingdom to rule and his will be to be done, you are implicitly saying that his purpose and plan is better than your own. 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.
It does not work to say to God to please do his 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 lines later in the sermon; 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 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. The prayer might be for the hamster not to be sick, or it may be 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 answer 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. It is a beautiful and comforting place to be – your kingdom come, your will be done!