Always Worshiping – Step #3 in Learning How to Be Always Praying
So what does worship have to do with prayer? How am I suppose to do both at the same time? I’ll admit, I had no idea where Pastor Wilson was going with this in Lesson #4 of Always Praying. So far in this series (Lessons 1-3), it’s been made clear that if we truly become aware of three things we will inevitably find ourselves “praying always” as we are instructed.
- God’s presence
- The devil’s schemes &
- Our own sin
That’s great right? Just lift our worries to the Lord and we will get an A+ in Praying Always 101. Not so fast. Lesson #4 (Always Worshiping) helps us to see that there are wrong ways to say those prayers.
- Jesus knows all of our needs already and he prays to the Father directly (intercession) on our behalf. (Matthew 6:8, 25-34) It’s rather nuts to think we could ask for our needs better than the Holy Lamb of God; so don’t let personal, physical needs take priority. Jesus illustrates this clearly when the people asked Him to meet their physical needs with food. (John 6:26-40) He immediately pointed them to a higher need for the extraordinary Being, and the plan and will of the Father.
- He also doesn’t want you to bring attention to yourself when you are praying for yourself or others like the Pharisees did or like so many of our Facebook posts. (Matthew 6:5-6)
- Another warning is not to “heap up empty phrases”; using many words.
How Do I Pray Correctly?
Jesus told us to, “Pray in this way.” when he was referring to what we call The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). He wasn’t saying to just recite it. He wanted us to really look at the pattern and the principles of prayer. Historically, this prayer has been broken down into two sections with three requests in each section:
- Majestic Heights
- Request to make God known (Hallowed be your name)
- Request for His plan to be complete (Your kingdom come)
- Request for His will to be made known (Your will be done)
- Common Depths
- Request for our needs to be met (Give us this day our daily bread)
- Request for forgiveness (Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors)
- Request for protection against sin (Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil)
Section two’s needs are asked for so that their absence is not a distraction from the more important first section. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us God has the ‘needs’ part covered and how our faith can be seen in not worrying about it. He then immediately points us back to seek section one. Matthew 6:14, among other passages, stresses the importance of forgiveness as reflective of Christ himself. We’d never want to be non-reflective of the glory of Christ; which is the whole reason for the Gospel.
It is interesting to note that when Jesus says “us” in the second section, he is speaking to true believers not just everyone. We see this again when he used this exact prayer template in his private prayer to God just before his death. (John 17) Verse 8 says, “I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those (disciples) whom You have given Me.” Verse 20 says, “I do not ask on behalf of these (disciples) alone but for those also who believe in Me through their word (true converts).” [More on praying for Non-Christians.]
Start Your Prayers with WORSHIP
Not only does the content and audience matter; the order matters as well. Jesus starts with, “Hallowed be your name” because it is the most important. Many other prayers in the Bible use this same beginning*.
- cause to worship (the Father)
- cause all other things that compete for my attention to fade in importance (hunger, illness, relationships, money, etc)
- cause me to honor, respect, revere and submit (to the Father)
- cause me to really see who You (the Father) are: holy, righteous, merciful, gracious, patient, kind, judging and full of wrath against all unrighteousness (sin).
Pastor Wilson boldly makes the statement that if this is all you say in your prayers, then your prayer is complete. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing, etc) will be added to you”. (Matthew 6:33) “I Am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end [of everything]. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 21:6) It is God’s primary will to have worshipers. So, begin your prayers with the most important thing to God and leave the rest to Jesus.
Here are some examples of just how perfectly complete and God honoring a common prayer request can be when you put worship (hallowing) first as we are instructed:
- Death or Illness: Dear Heavenly Father you know Aunt Lydia is grieving the loss of Uncle Sam, please help her to worship you even in her pain. Help her to keep her eye on your kingdom to come and help her to know your will moment by moment so she feels your comforting. Strengthen her to withstand the onslaught of greedy relatives when the property is sold and the will is read so that they all see who and what she reveres most in life, you dear Lord.
- My Provision: Holy God you know my money troubles but I thank you anyway for all I have. Please increase my worship and thanksgiving, no matter how low my bank account gets. Don’t let these troubles take over my attention to your kingdom and your glory. Draw me closer to you and teach me to submit to your will for my finances and help me not to let gaining money take over my focus.
- Any Sin: Father above, I have not worshiped you as I ought to have. I feel so far from you. Please forgive my sin of flirting with that woman. I have not honored you or my wife. Please cause me to be aware that you are there and know who you really are. Show me your attributes and lead me back to you, whatever it takes. I want to be fully submitted to you and protected from evil temptations.