Matthew 6:9–13 (NASB95)
9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”
We had a small but mighty band of prayer warriors at church last night for the National Day of Prayer. Special thanks to our Joe Leinen, and Jimmy & Beverly Augur (worship team), and Marty McGinnis (sound), who led us in song and in prayer as we sought the Lord for our beloved country. I was profoundly encouraged as we worshiped the Lord and poured out our hearts before Him. I know He was pleased as His children all over America came before His throne of grace.
Today I read a good book on prayer, “Fresh Encounters,” by Daniel Henderson. I met Daniel decades ago at Grace Community Church. He has developed several valuable prayer resources that you can find at www.strategicrenewal.com. One of them is something he calls the “4/4-Time” pattern of prayer. He bases it on the Lord’s Prayer in Mt. 6, utilizing the pattern a conductor follows when he leads a choir or orchestra in 4/4-time.
- Upward (Reverence). Begin with the upward focus of worship – “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” Effective prayer is worship-based, not need-based. Begin with the character of God and take time to focus on the wonders of who He is according to His Word. Pray with an open Bible delighting in the names and character of God. Reverence is a springboard to intimate worship and prayers of faith (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17). This stimulates us to seek HIM in prayer, not just what He can do for us. During this time, do not ask God for anything. Give Him the glory and honor due His name.
- Downward (Response). Respond to God’s character – “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This involves yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit and recommitting to God’s kingdom purposes. It is a time of introspection and surrender as the Spirit leads. Pledge obedience to the will and Word of God. Confession of sin could be a part of this segment. Read a passage of Scripture and pray it back to the Lord in humble submission.
- Inward (Requests). “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Share heartfelt requests with the Lord having the theme of provisions and purity. Trust God as the perfect definer and provider of your needs. A prayer journal is helpful at this time so you can pray specifically and keep track of God’s answers to your prayers. It is important that this step follows the first two (Reverence and Response) because worship and surrendering our wills to God give us the proper perspective on our needs. Remember to pray not only for God’s provisions but also for purity.
- Outward (Readiness). Before heading out into the daily battle we seek God for the spiritual resources needed to fight. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Recognize our own inability to overcome the temptations and attacks of daily life. This can be a time of meditation and memorization of God’s Word as we prepare for spiritual attack (see how Jesus handled temptation in Matthew 4 by quoting the Word of God). Having God’s Word in our hearts and on our lips gives us the resources to fight.
- Upward (Reverence). Conclude your time of prayer as you began – on a high note of praise. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Finish with a reminder of our awesome God to whom we pray and in whom we trust. Close this final stroke of prayer with songs of praise and declarations of His promises.
Implement this pattern of prayer but not in a rigid way. Focus on different attributes of God, read varied passages of Scripture, have special requests for specific days of the week, focus on temptations pertinent to that day, and sing songs that have themes similar to what you focused on in prayer. Enjoy balanced, biblical prayer for your soul’s good and God’s glory. And don’t just pray like this when you are alone. This pattern is great for prayer with your spouse, family, LIFE Group, etc.
Scottish writer Robert Law said, “Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth.” Let’s get God’s will done in our personal lives and in our church as we seek Him through biblical, worship-based prayer.