One day it happened that Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us how to pray, as John used to teach his disciples.”
“When you pray,” returned Jesus, “you should say, ‘Father, may your name be honoured—may your kingdom come! (JBP)
Our prayers can easily become mere shopping lists of requests or even demands. We put a coin of faith in the slot and expect answers to come immediately. Prayer becomes a transaction whereby I get what I want from God.
Nothing at all wrong with asking for things and sharing our heart’s desires with God. But if this is our priority, if this is what is most important, then we have misunderstood prayer and turned God into some genie summonsed to our aid when we pray. Our God becomes a means to an end.
When Jesus taught us a model of prayer, it is interesting that it begins with God not with us. We are not immediately plunged into the world of our felt needs and fond wishes. We first remind ourselves who it is to whom we pray. He is our Father. We then pray that his character, which is what “name” means here, is honoured. Presumably by our living in such a way that does honour him. And we pray that his rule or kingdom be extended as we live such lives.
In other words, it is all about him and not us. Of course we pray for things for ourselves and others, but it is a good practice to begin with praise and thanksgiving and an expression of a desire to live God’s way. If we make exaltation of God primary, all secondary things find their proper place.