June 1, 2012

The Driving Force of Your (Prayer) Life

by Mike Riccardi

“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. …”
– Matthew 6:9 –

This first petition of “the Lord’s Prayer” (probably better termed “The Disciple’s Prayer”) is first by design. This premier petition that God’s name be glorified acts a controlling grid through which Jesus’ disciples are to pray. Everything we ask for in prayer and everything we do in our lives is to be asked for and done so that God would be glorified—so that the beauty of His manifold perfections would be magnified for all to see. The glory of God should not only drive us to pray; it should also shape all that we pray for.

This is the highest request we could ever attain to make of God, for it is this which is His own most foundational and most ultimate commitment. He Himself has stated that He does all He does with a chief regard for the glory of His own name.

  • Isaiah 42:8 – I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another.
  • Isaiah 43:7 – Everyone…whom I have created for My glory.
  • Isaiah 43:25 – I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake.
  • Isaiah 48:11 – For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.
  • Ezekiel 36:22-23 – It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.…I will vindicate the holiness of My great name.
  • Ephesians 1:11-12 – …according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

And He has given us the same command: to glorify Him—to make much of Him—in all that we do. Every way in which we conduct our lives must be controlled by the desire for God’s name to be hallowed by all people, for His glory to be magnified in the sight of all creation.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  • 1 Peter 4:11 – Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus Himself prayed this way:

  • John 12:28 – As He acknowledges that His soul has become troubled as He contemplates His work to be completed on the cross, the request He makes to God for the comfort of His soul is: “Father, glorify Your name.”
  • John 17:1 – As He began to pray concerning His crucifixion, He opened with these words: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.”

And so a great cloud of witnesses counsels us on what this instruction means for our prayer lives:

  • R. C. Sproul: “He is teaching us to ask that God’s name would be regarded as sacred, that it would be treated with reverence, and that it would be seen as holy. We must see this if we are to pray according to the pattern Jesus set for us.”
  •  John Piper: “We pray for ourselves and for other followers of Jesus and for the world that we would reverence and cherish the name of God above things. This is the first function of prayer — to pray that people would pursue the glory of God.”
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “It means a burning desire that the whole world may bow down before God in adoration, in reverence, in praise, in worship, in honour and in thanksgiving. Is that our supreme desire? Is that the thing that is always uppermost in our minds whenever we pray to God? I would remind you again that it should be so whatever our circumstances.”

Is that your supreme desire? Is that the thing uppermost in your affections, in whatever you do? May God grant that it would be so.

This first petition of the Disciple’s Prayer teaches us that we must re-orient all our thinking and all our desires to be entirely in tune with God’s glory. As a disciple of Christ, I want to follow Him. I want to think like He thought, and be concerned about what He was concerned about. And, as He makes evident both by His example and by giving priority to this first petition, Jesus was concerned about glorifying the Father.

Therefore, the desire for the name of God to be glorified in the sight of all people must drive all of our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. This includes our prayer lives.

Mike Riccardi

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Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
  • Christian Pinkston

    I love this verse because of the juxtaposition between the first phrase and the second.   To have Jesus tell us to refer to God as not just HIS Father, but OUR Father was almost unprecedented before Jesus came along.   Jesus paved the way for us to have that intimate relationship with God.   But lest we become too comfortable, He immediately tempers that thought with the hallowed phrase.   That God alone is to be glorified.   Those two thoughts provide a wonderful tension as we consider our relationship to Him.   

    • Amen, Christian. I’ve had that same thought. The great confidence we express at the beginning of our prayers is that the great and glorious God of the universe is our Father.

      And yet, our Father is in heaven. This should keep our confidence from becoming casualness. He is our Father, and thus vitally connected to us. But He is in heaven, and thus vitally removed from us. He is holy; we are sinful. He is in heaven; we are on earth. This safeguards us from treating Him as so familiar that we forget His awesome majesty and utter other-ness.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • ‘In Heaven’ — it also safeguards us from confusing Him with a baby daddy who disappears and disappoints us. Or worse than abandonment, one who abuses us.

        Thank you for this.  I long for this hallowing to drive all my life, but especially my prayer life. 

  • Mary Palshan

    Such a blessing!!! 

  • Michael Delahunt

    Thanks, Mike, for this invigorating read.  I’ve been realizing lately in fresh new ways how important this is – to seek God’s glory foremost in all things in my life – and that it is not an option for me if I want to advance “further inward and further upward”.  While this type of thinking is contrary to the way my mind works naturally, I am thankful to have the Holy Spirit do His work as He directs me back to the glory of God in various ways, including devotionals like the one above.

  • searchandtrace

    I was first helped to appreciate the truths contained in this verse approximately 40 years ago when I first read Thomas Watson’s book on “The Lord’s Prayer”. A free ebook of Watson’s exposition is available at http://www.searchandtrace.net/shop/page/11/

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