Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”(Luke 11:1-4)
Jesus’ closest followers came with an important request: “teach us to pray.” Surely, they had prayed before, but somehow they recognized their need for instruction on how to pray most effectively. Jesus’ instruction on prayer began with this familiar statement: “Father, hallowed be your name.” To hallow something means literally to “render or acknowledge, to set apart.” Jesus knew that we are designed to render and acknowledge something or someone who is bigger and better than us.
We see this concept play out every week as we “hallow” exceptional people and exceptional things:
- Fans will congregate in packed stadiums to cheer on exceptional athletes on football teams.
- Every evening people pack Broadway theaters, the Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall as they’re moved by exceptional actors, singers, dancers, and other performers.
- During 2009 and 2010 the movie Avatar grossed over 2.78 billion dollars as it wowed audiences with its exceptional 3D special effects.
- Each year 5 million visitors visit the Grand Canyon to marvel at its exceptional natural beauty.
We often “hallow” or worship worldly things, without realizing we were designed to hallow an exceptional God.
As we pray, our natural tendency is to begin by focusing on our needs or our struggles. God clearly cares about those needs and struggles, but our prayers will always be limited in scope and depth when we begin by focusing on ourselves rather than God. Fixing our minds and hearts on His glory, His power, His wisdom, His justice, His authority, His holiness, and His love is what gives us the proper context for everything else we pray. Notice how your needs and your struggles look different when you focus on God’s glory first.
Do your prayers begin with God as the focus or you? Take some time today to praise God for who He is and what He has done.