Would you agree that, at times, the most challenging aspect of prayer is just getting started? What can we say that inclines our hearts to God's will so that we are actually communing with the Lord and not merely murmuring religious words? Our Lord Himself shows us precisely what kind of prayer pleases God. Let's consider His words. 

We Belong to a Family 

Take a moment and read the model prayer in Matthew 6. Scan through verses 9-13 and notice all the first-person singular pronouns. Look for words such as my, mine, me, and I. What did you discover? It is surprising, isn't it? They are not there!  

What we do find are first-person plural pronouns such as: "our Father in Heaven;" "give us this day our daily bread;" "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors;" and "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." These pronouns are more than just parts of speech; they send an important message. 

From the start of the Lord's model prayer, we discover a focus on community. Prayer is something we do with the mindset of a family and congregation. Of course, our salvation is personal, but we are saved into a family.

There is no doubt that individual prayer is good and fitting for Christians, but it should also be our regular practice to pray with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Likewise, it is appropriate to pray for your own needs, but Jesus also teaches us to desire to pray with others in mind. This should comfort us as we remember that we bear the burdens of others as they do the same for us. 

Our Family Has a Father 

We belong to a family, and our family has a perfect, righteous, holy, trustworthy Father. God is also our guide, protector, shield, and teacher. All the things we understand a faithful earthly father should be are perfectly exemplified in God. 

Knowing God in this way is a unique privilege and blessing to Christians. He is enthroned and highly exalted in Heaven, yet he is also near to us. You can say God is both transcendent (distinct from us) and immanent (near to us). While it is true that God Himself created all people and knit them together in their mother's wombs (Psalm 139:13-14), only those adopted through the work of Christ can truly call Him Father. We have both a master/servant relationship and a familial one. He is our God, yet also our Abba Father.  

Jesus teaches us to remember as we pray that God has adopted us as His own children.

We begin our prayers with the blessed knowledge that God loves us and has chosen us as His sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:4-6, Galatians 4:4-7). We belong to a spiritual family, and our spiritual family has a perfect Father. This should flood our hearts with a well-spring of gratitude. 

Our Father Rules Over All Things 

The good news of the gospel is that we are reconciled to God through Christ. God is our Father, and our Father is the One Who rules on the throne of Heaven. The blessed truth of the Lord's model prayer is not simply that we have a Father (as good as that news is), but the One Whom we know as our Father is the very God Who has absolute authority over all things. 

As believers, we know we are commanded to pray. Yet how we pray is important. We must engage our hearts and minds because the God Who hears our prayers deserves nothing less. He is the One Whom the Old Testament refers to as El Shaddai—the One with all the might (Genesis 17:1).

When we pray to the Lord, we are praying to the Ruler above all earthly powers. 

It has been said that God may not always be pleased with humanity, but He is never perplexed. Heaven is God's throne, and the earth is His footstool (Isaiah 66:1), so be assured that the pressures and problems we encounter in ministry do not confuse or intimidate our Father. It is with this confidence that we approach God in prayer. Our Father hears our prayers, and He is greater than anything we face. 

Jesus teaches us to begin our time in prayer by meditating on the name and character of our God. With the proper focus and heart, our prayers become stronger and more effective as the peace of God, which guards our hearts and minds, flows in! 

We Express Our Deepest Desire 

One essential detail must be recognized: the phrase "hallowed be your name" is not merely a declaration of praise but is instead the first appearance of a request in this prayer. Jesus tells us to pray in such a way that we ask God to display the glory of His name. No request is of greater importance than this. We begin our prayers by declaring the unrivaled character of God and asking Him to move in such a way that the world would give Him the honor He alone deserves. 

If we ask God to show the glory of His name, that would necessarily mean that we strive to live so that people see the greatness of God in us, not because we are pastors in ministry but because we are children of God. In Matthew 5, Jesus has just instructed His hearers to let their light shine so that people will respond by glorifying the Father. Now, one chapter later, He is giving us the first tool to make that happen: praying for it! So, when Jesus teaches us to pray, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name," He instructs us to recognize the spiritual blessing of belonging to God's family and to remember His mighty power. We ask the Lord to use us as the stage on which His glory is displayed. How could we not be passionate in prayer if we do so with these thoughts in mind? 

Understanding this most crucial call for God's glory sets the boundaries for all other requests.

Praying for God to make His name great through us decreases our desire to have our own agenda fulfilled. If we truly ask the Lord to use us as instruments of His grace and mercy, we will not hold grudges against those who have wronged us. Jesus rightly helps us see the importance of beginning our prayers by focusing on God, not because our personal needs are irrelevant but because His glory is our deepest desire. 

As you begin your next time in prayer, before you mention your frustration with the world around you or ask for the pain in your life to be alleviated, start by expressing your gratitude that God has adopted you into His family. Contemplate the power and might of the One you call Father. Take time to consider His majesty, and then ask Him to use your life to sing forth His praises. Express your desire to see the name of God revered, loved, and worshiped. This will impact your preaching, your care for the flock, and your service as a Christian. Allow God's greatness to energize your heart and mind as you pray. It will ensure your motives align with His desires—and that is when prayer becomes powerful.